The biggest topic in my inbox at the moment, by far, is over possible further extensions to British Airways American Express 2-4-1 companion vouchers.
I have no inside information as to what is happening with companion vouchers. However, following BA’s announcement this week about the extension to Future Travel Vouchers, you can now articificially extend your 2-4-1 voucher to 30th September 2023.
EDIT: Unfortunately, BA pulled the rug from this strategy in March 2022. Read this article (click) to learn more.
What is the current position with voucher expiry?
British Airways has extended 2-4-1 vouchers on multiple occasions since the pandemic hit.
The last set of BA companion voucher extensions was announced in February 2021 but not everyone benefitted from this. At that point, all vouchers due to expire by 31st December 2021 were extended by a further six months. Vouchers expiring after 1st January 2022 were not touched.
This means that there are readers who have vouchers due to expire from Autumn 2021 onwards.
Will we see a further extension?
It isn’t clear. My strong suspicion is that we WILL see a futher extension.
The US is the key driver. The British Airways long-haul network is, to put it mildly, US-centric. As soon as the US reopens for vaccinated UK travellers I think that we will see a harder line on voucher extensions. Don’t expect much leeway just because South Africa, Brazil, Thailand, Japan etc are likely to remain closed for another year or so.
With no date in the diary for US travel to restart, however, it would be odd if BA didn’t give all unused vouchers a further grace period.
You can force through a 2-4-1 extension to 30th September 2023
In any event, you shouldn’t panic. There is, as a last resort, a way of extending your companion vouchers to 30th September 2023.
We covered this in our article on Wednesday on the extension of Future Travel Vouchers. I wanted to highlight it separately though as it was tucked away.
This is what you would do:
- book a flight from, say, London to Manchester, return, using your BA Amex 2-4-1 companion voucher. It will cost you 10,500 Avios + £70 return for a peak day flight.
- once the 24 hour ‘cooling off period’ has passed, cancel the ticket and select a ‘Future Travel Voucher’
As we explained on Wednesday, a ‘Future Travel Voucher’ is your old ticket, frozen.
When you come to rebook, you need to telephone British Airways. You can change the destination (no need to stick to Manchester!) and pay the additional Avios and taxes required.
A ‘Future Travel Voucher’ is valid for travel up to 30th September 2023. For clarity, you need to complete your travel by this date. It is not a ‘book by’ date or a ‘start your travel by’ date.
There are two catches, however
This method is a guaranteed way of extending your 2-4-1 voucher to 30th September 2023.
There are two catches, however.
- You will struggle to rebook a flight as soon as availability opens up. If you are the sort of person who books exactly 355 days in advance at midnight to guarantee the seats you want, you will be stuck. The only way to redeem a Future Travel Voucher is by calling BA. If you are ringing to book tickets at 00.00.01 precisely on the day of release, it is unlikely to work given the extra admin required to use the voucher. Someone else who wants those seats is likely to beat you to it.
- You cannot change the name of the 2nd passenger. The person you name as your companion on the dummy Manchester flight must be the person you travel with in, potentially, Summer 2023. Is your relationship that solid? 🙂
This 2nd point isn’t the end of the world. If you and your partner / best friend go separate ways, you can ring British Airways and convert your ‘Future Travel Voucher’ back into cash and Avios by paying the £35 per person cancellation fee. Your 2-4-1 companion voucher would immediately expire, however, if it was out of date at the time you do this.
I would strongly recommend that you do NOT follow this idea at the moment.
I am convinced that British Airways will extend companion vouchers further at some point. If they do you are wasting your time – and creating extra grief for yourself – if you unnecessarily turn your 241 voucher into a Future Travel Voucher now.
Wait until you get close to expiry, although don’t leave it too late because clearly you need to find Avios seats to do a dummy booking.
The point I wanted to make today is that you have a fall-back position if the worst comes to the worst, so don’t waste any time worrying about your voucher.
If you want to learn more about how to use your 241 companion voucher now you have the extension, this Head for Points artice is the definitive guide on everything you need to know about the British Airways American Express 2-4-1 voucher.
How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (November 2022)
As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios points from UK credit cards. Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!
In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.
You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:
There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:
You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points.
Run your own business?
We recommend Capital On Tap for limited companies. You earn 1 Avios per £1 which is impressive for a Visa card, along with a sign-up bonus worth 10,000 Avios.
You should also consider the British Airways Accelerating Business credit card. This is open to sole traders as well as limited companies and has a 30,000 Avios sign-up bonus.
There are also generous bonuses on the two American Express Business cards, with the points converting at 1:1 into Avios. These cards are open to sole traders as well as limited companies.
Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.