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You can’t combine ‘new’ and ‘old’ BA Amex 241 vouchers – and why it is an issue

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Yesterday we looked at why the changes to the British Airways Premium Plus American Express cards may be better than we originally thought.

The changes to the British Airways Premium Plus credit card are outlined in this article from Tuesday.

Today, just to be contrarian, I want to show you why the Premium Plus changes may, for the first couple of years, not be better for you and could actually be worse.

British Airways BA American Express Amex credit cards

Tucked away in the small print on the British Airways website, on the ba.com page discussing the changes to the 2-4-1 companion voucher, is this wording:

“Only Companion Vouchers of the same type can be combined and redeemed on one Reward Flight booking (e.g. If a Cardmember holds a British Airways American Express Companion Voucher earned before 1 September 2021 and a British Airways American Express Credit Card Companion Voucher earned after 1 September 2021 they will need to be redeemed on separate bookings. If a Cardmember holds two Companion Vouchers of the same type e.g. two British Airways American Express Credit Card Companion Vouchers earned after 1 September 2021 they can be combined and redeemed as part of the same Reward Flight booking).”

You can’t mix ‘old’ and ‘new’ companion vouchers

These are the rules about who can use your companion voucher:

  • redeem one voucher, and the travellers must be the Amex cardholder and one other person
  • redeem two vouchers at once, in the same transaction, and the passengers must be the Amex cardholder and THREE other people
  • if you are in a Household Account, the additional passengers must be a member of the Household Account or on your Friends & Family list

If you are a family or group of four and want to use 2 x 2-4-1 companion vouchers from the same person on the same trip, you need to book in one transaction to get ‘1+3’.

But you can’t do that now ….

Companion vouchers issued from 1st September cannot be combined with vouchers issued before 1st September.

This will impact whether you decide to trigger your next voucher before or after 1st September.

Let me use myself as the example:

  • I have an existing BA Premium Plus 2-4-1 voucher waiting to be used
  • I am currently £9,000 into my current spending year
  • Virtually all my personal travel is with my wife and two children

As you can see, I have an interesting decision to make.

  • I could trigger my next 2-4-1 voucher before 1st September. The advantage of this is that I can use it with my existing voucher to travel with my family on a booking for four people. The downside is that it won’t qualify to take advantage of the additional Club World seat availability offered on vouchers issued from 1st September.

or

  • I could trigger my next 2-4-1 voucher after 1st September. The advantage of this is that I can use it very easily, due to the additional Club World seats that will be offered on ‘new’ Premium Plus vouchers. The downside is that I can’t combine it with my existing 2-4-1 voucher.

In the second scenario, the only way to use my ‘orphaned’ 2-4-1 voucher would be to book for two of us. I would need to use cash or 100% Avios to book the other two tickets. Availability will be tricker, however, due to lack of access to those additional Club World seats.

I am genuinely confused as to what I should do

I honestly don’t know what option is best.

I am excited by the prospect of being redeem for any I-class Club World seat, which would make Avios availability very easy to find. I would need to wait until 2022 before I had two vouchers available to travel with my family though – and what would happen to my existing voucher?

On the other hand, the idea of ‘wasting’ my existing 2-4-1 – or needing to book the two additional Avios seats I need at full rate – doesn’t appeal.

One solution would be to get my wife a British Airways Premium Plus card again (her two years without the card are nearly up). This would give us extra flexibility, as a 2-4-1 triggered on her card would allow her to book for herself and my daughter and I could book for myself and my son. I would have worse availability on my legacy voucher but I’d only need two seats – my wife would have access to better availability for the extra two seats.

British Airways could easily have avoided this situation

It would have been VERY easy for British Airways to convert existing 2-4-1 vouchers into ‘new’ vouchers on 1st September.

It may have led to a short-term rush on I-class seating but, given the current flight market, I doubt it would be a major hit for the airline.

I would also imagine that literally 99% of BA Premium Plus cardholders won’t read the small print and won’t realise that ‘old’ and ‘new’ vouchers can’t be combined. Most won’t even realise that the vouchers are different. It could all get a bit messy.

Ask me in 8 weeks which way I decided to jump. For now, I am halting BA Premium Plus spending and will decide nearer 1st September whether to push through the last £1,000 to trigger the voucher before or after that date.


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Comments (107)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • The Savage Squirrel says:

    I actually wonder whether it will be enforced as, just like the public, call staff may not be aware (they’re hardly going to be expert on changes at Amex and will think it’s the same 2 for 1 as always). It will certainly lead to some irate phone calls for them to endure if so. Of course that doesn’t help with planning strategy as we have to assume it will be enforced until proven otherwise, so no BAPP spend for me until Sept now.

    • sayling says:

      These are BA changes, though, not AmEx changes, aren’t they?

  • GT says:

    And how will BA present this availability on BA.com – they find the simplest of IT/web things challenging (including the reset to 1 person and economy class drop down when amending a search option) – how the h3ll are they going to display availability for i class when a new voucher is used vs an old voucher (and if there is one seat in redemption and one in I)

    • SammyJ says:

      Wonder the same thing. I guess (somehow) it will just show the availability depending on the type of search you do, ir a basic Avios search, or if you’ve already selected a voucher to use.

      It’ll be rewardflightfinder/seatspy that will struggle I suppose.

    • Rob says:

      It will be merged into one display when you select the correct voucher, in the same way that a BA Gold sees the extra cash seats booking in Economy shown seamlessly with Avios tickets open to all.

      • Jonathan says:

        I would add that the additional Gold availability (V fare bucket) doesn’t appear in BA’s Reward Flight Finder (on the App at least) so you have to select the nearest dates with availability in standard redemptions then cycle through days.

  • WaynedP says:

    I would take comfort from concrete confirmation that new Companion Vouchers triggered after 1 September WILL continue to enjoy +6 month expiry date promised earlier by BA.

    If so, my sweet spot for next conversion is 6 week window after 1 Sept.

    If any doubt that new companion vouchers will get extra 6 months then that sweet spot shifts to the last 2 weeks of August.

    • Yusuf says:

      Is there an article discussing the 6 month extention for companion vouchers triggered post 1st Sept?

      • meta says:

        Any voucher triggered until the end of 2021 will get 6 month extension.

      • WaynedP says:

        Thanks, yes am aware of that helpful statement.

        Perhaps I’m being over-dubious, but my question is will that be good enough to force BA to honour that undertaking if unexpected consequences of new voucher means IT not able to add +6 months lifespan ?

        It’s too late to find that out after 31 August if you’ve foregone the option to trigger by then, and BA discover that all they can do is bung you a few Avios in compensation for a real inability to give extra lifespan to your new BA companion voucher.

  • Chris Heyes says:

    Rob In my opinion you will have to trigger your 241 spend before Sept (as will I)
    I presume 4 of you will be traveling (same as I next year, booking this)
    If you don’t ?
    You will find your 241 is of no use .
    Unless BA change their stance maybe some pressure ? you never know well you should know 1st lol

    • chris1922 says:

      I’m in exactly the same position, three vouchers in my account at present, with one about to trigger. Two existing vouchers expire early next year so of little to no use. I’ll be triggering my new voucher before 1st Sep, to make sure I have two same vouchers to use at the same time for my family of four.

    • Rob says:

      I can still use my old one, I would just need to either pay 100% Avios for the other two family members or buy cash tickets.

      • AJA says:

        In which case Rob, for you it is a case of deciding whether the saving in Avios using an old 2-4-1 outweighs the extra flexibility gained from I class inventory on the new voucher. Fairly simple choice really if you have a high Avios balance especially as you also have extra award availability as Gold anyway.

      • FatherOfFour says:

        Now that 4 CW are guaranteed, I would have thought that taking the voucher now, so that it can be combined would be sufficient. (Unless you are not booking at T-355 or somebody else nabs 1 or more tickets)
        Same dilemma with only 2 “guaranteed” CW, but with the prospect of being able to get I-class then this would be an even bigger conundrum?

  • geoff says:

    I can’t see why they couldn’t let you combine an old voucher, using old availability, and a new one using either standard or new availability.

    • Memesweeper says:

      Waaaaay too hard for the puter programmers… and only for a transitional period so hard to justify the effort.

      I still think this is insufficient notice for a change to be reasonable, and might be subject to successful challenge from someone with one voucher in hand and significant commitment to number two via prior spend… like Rob.

      I’ve booked a few “double companions” before and I’m looking forward to that being easier in future as I’ve no vouchers in the bank (albeit two are spent on a booking with one leg cancelled at the moment…)

      • meta says:

        This poses problems for families for sure, but for couples/groups of two it doesn’t matter. It might create a problem for those couples/ groups of two who intend to nest 2 vouchers to benefit from lower taxes as until you use all old vouchers you will still have to pay higher cost on one voucher.

    • Rob says:

      IT. No more, no less.

  • Ian says:

    I have wasted vouchers before and I will now.

    Have no massive desire to use Avios as if you do bang goes status. I might to Europe but not long haul.

    Sure, some of us are gifted Gold, and for the rest of us we need to buy cash tickets.

    • pauldb says:

      What do you need gold for if you by a mix of avios and cash CW tickets?

    • Peter K says:

      So status to you is worth more than saving hard cash? Every person’s view is different and some don’t put that much value on gaining it.

    • Alex W says:

      Upgrading premium economy tickets is often the best value available, particularly if you want to maintain status.

    • Rob says:

      Now that Avios have an explicit 0.8p cash value you can justify this to yourself easily enough. I see US West Coast in First Class for £1600 in the BA sale launched today – this makes Avios a poor deal (valuing them at 0.8p) and you get a huge slug of tier points towards requalification.

  • Tim Tinsley says:

    Rob, I think this has been made easier by the recent increase in guaranteed seats available. I would trigger the voucher before the cut off date as I suspect you will still find four CW seats available.

  • Yorkieflyer says:

    Ok so the other moving part is one I’ve forgotten. When is the cut off issues date for the 6 month extension to vouchers?

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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