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A BA Amex 241 companion voucher question I can’t answer – any takers?

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My email inbox is a decent guide to what is currently causing issues in the travel loyalty industry, and it’s also a way of teasing out problems which we hadn’t previously considered.

Over the last few weeks, three people have emailed me with the same question about the ‘new’ British Airways American Express 2-4-1 companion vouchers.

I have no idea about the answer, so I’m turning it over to you in case you have solved the problem.

British Airways BA Amex American Express

Amex changed the 2-4-1 companion vouchers last September

First, a quick recap.

The two British Airways American Express credit cards come with a ‘companion voucher’ when you hit an annual spending target. These vouchers allow you to book two Avios redemptions for the points of one, although full taxes and charges must be paid on both tickets.

(We have an incredibly detailed Q&A here on how the BA Amex companion vouchers work if you want to know more.)

Following changes last year, vouchers issued after 1st September 2021 work like this:

  • BA Premium Plus American Express card – spend £10,000 in your card year and you receive a 2-4-1 companion voucher valid for 24 months (ie outbound flight to be taken within 24 months) on a flight in any cabin on British Airways
  • Free BA American Express card – spend £12,000 in your card year and you receive a 2-4-1 companion voucher valid for 12 months (ie outbound flight to be taken within 12 months) on an Economy flight on British Airways

There was one other change made in 2021 …..

There was one other change made in September 2021 which I initially dismissed as being of zero value to 95% of our readers.

Previously, all travel using a 2-4-1 companion voucher had to start in the UK. This wasn’t unreasonable, given that the vouchers are only offered to UK residents.

This restriction has been removed on new vouchers. Your 2-4-1 trip can now start from anywhere.

The obvious beneficiary of this is anyone who is within easy reach of Dublin, Paris, Amsterdam etc. They could book a redemption flight which goes (Aberdeen home -) Dublin – London – Miami etc. This would save you £185 per person in Air Passenger Duty on a business class flight, albeit at the cost of getting to Dublin / Paris / Amsterdam and the extra Avios needed for the redemption.

It’s not something I would do with my family but it may work for some people, especially those who live outside London and were facing connecting flights anyway.

British Airways BA Amex Premium Plus American Express

Here’s the question …..

Given that the 2-4-1 can be used to book flights starting outside the UK, there is another option available to you now.

You could book your return flight to the UK even if there is currently no Avios availability for the outbound flight.

It’s not an ideal situation, but you can see the attraction. You can lock in your return flight and then potentially set up a SeatSpy alert to let you know as soon as outbound flights come up.

However, is this possible?

Is it possible to add an extra flight, from a different country, IN FRONT of an existing flight?

There is no problem, at all, adding a flight to the BACK of an existing trip. Many, many HfP readers book their outbound 2-4-1 companion voucher flights as soon as the tickets come up (355 days before departure) and then call BA later to add the return when it is available.

Adding a flight to the front of an itinerary is different, however.

The taxes charged on your ticket may depend on the ‘point of sale’, eg the country where it is ticketed. Legally, a one-way flight from New York to London may be ticketed by BA in the US. If you tried to add a flight from London to New York in front of your New York to London flight, there may be issues with the original ticket.

Perhaps this isn’t a problem for BA in reality. Perhaps it is. I don’t know, and I don’t trust BA to know if I ask them.

Can you help?

So, the question to you, our readers, is this – have you successfully managed to add an outbound flight from the UK to an existing, already booked, inbound flight using a new-style American Express 2-4-1 companion voucher?

If so, were there any quirks with ticketing or reticketing, or with the way the taxes were worked out?

Thanks in advance for your feedback.


How to earn Avios points from UK credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (May 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. You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:

British Airways BA Premium Plus American Express Amex credit card

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable card perk – the 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

British Airways BA Amex American Express card

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up and an Economy 2-4-1 voucher for spending £12,000 Read our full review

You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points.

The Platinum Card has doubled its sign-up bonus to 60,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert to 60,000 Avios, if you apply by 1st June 2022.

American Express Amex Gold

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points (SPECIAL OFFER) and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

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.

Capital on Tap Visa card

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

10,500 points bonus – the most generous Avios Visa for a limited company Read our full review

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.

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express card

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

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.

Amex Platinum Business American Express

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.

(Want to earn more Avios?  Click here to visit our home page for our latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios this month from offers and promotions.)

Comments (109)

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

  • Cavallinorampante says:

    While I have not tried to book a return leg first on a new BA 2-4-1 voucher, I think it should be possible. I have recently booked outbound online first, then return using no voucher, and called to get the flight added to the first on the 2-4-1 booking. This used to be combined with a grudging torturous process on the outbound booking with that booking reference, but now they retain both outbound and return booking references but link them to allow both to have the 2-4-1 benefits, and refund half the Avios the return booking. It may well be that this change was made intentionally to permit outbound bookings to be added to previously-booked return 2-4-1 reservations.

    • Rob says:

      Works well except for US routes, where the one way taxes are monstrous!

      • David A says:

        Rob,
        I have LHR-SAN (5,470 miles), outbound on 2-4-1, then BDA-LHR (3,430) inbound using Avios. The “gap” SAN-BDA is 3,020 miles so I’m assuming the itinerary is within the 2-4-1 rules. Even though BDA (Bermuda) is not in the USA, if I merge the inbound into the 2-4-1, will the additional taxes still be “monstrous”, or is BDA treated more like Caribbean countries? Thanks.

        • Rob says:

          If you merge existing tickets, your taxes remain what you have already paid. Nothing changes. You simply get half the Avios you paid for the return refunded.

      • KK says:

        Why are the taxes so high? Because the market will bear it / oligopoly pricing? Or as a way to punish US residents who have much higher points earnings on US credit cards due to sign up bonuses and uncapped interchange?

  • Claire says:

    I didn’t start outside of the UK but did have to book a seperate flight to meet my 2 4 1 companion in London to travel to Singapore as they were coming in from Amsterdam and I from Edinburgh. All flights were booked through BA. BA now has a rule that you cannot check your bags all the way through for flights on different booking references, meaning you are not considered as a connecting flight passanger. You’ll need to have enough time to collect bags and pass through security again. If planning to use a voucher soon given the current issue at some airports with delays the taxes may be worth it.

    • ChrisC says:

      BA has had that rule – no interlining on separate tickets – since 2017!

    • NorthernLass says:

      I’m not sure why you couldn’t book EDI-LHR-SIN one on ticket?

      • Mark says:

        Presumably because both tickets on a 2for1 have to be for the same flights – you can’t start in EDI for one person, and LHR for the other.

    • JH says:

      Not sure if that checked baggage rule is true. I’ve checked my baggage all the way through several times on different booking references, including as recently as last month, and each leg was in a different class.

      • SamG says:

        their system “Fly” can in some cases recognise you are the same person with two BA flights and the agent can check you through. What I believe is not possible is to “force” this to happen or to check through to other airlines

  • MCO says:

    Just out if interest if I book LHR-MIA now and then add on MIA to LHR later do I pay the return taxes from the UK or the ridiculous $700-800 one way taxes from the USA?

    • Rob says:

      If you ring BA and get them to add the return to the existing ticket, you pay the ex-UK taxes that a return would cost.

      If you book the return on a separate booking and then ring BA to get half the Avios on the return refunded, you will have paid the higher figure.

      • Charlie says:

        In the case of HKG which I am interested in doing (eventually, when COVID clears up), I believe it makes sense to book the return on a separate booking, to benefit from the lower taxes and charges. Then call up BA to move it into an existing 241 booking and claim neck half the avios. In practice does this work ok? Do BA ever try to charge the full taxes and charges?

      • Ronster says:

        Hi Everyone

        Hope your Easter has gone well

        With limited availability on some routes, I often wonder whats the best combination? Taking on boards Robs above points and that you might not be able to book a compete return 2-4-1 immediately online, is it best to :-

        1) Add the 2-4-1 voucher at the same time your booking the outbound ticket online. Then contacting BA to gain the avios refund to the inbound flight as well?

        2) Add the 2-4-1 voucher to the inbound flight availability and then contacting BA to gain the avios refund to the outbound flight as well?

        3)Take the hit with bigger taxes but gaining the time/reducing the risk of availability disappearing , by booking the outbounds or inbounds online and then adding the 2-4-1 with an agent?

        4)If time and route availability are NOT an issue, to take advantage of the lower taxes; is there a specific BA country customer service number, that the group would recommend making the call after midnight if the available outbound/ inbound can be added and the appropriate 2-4-1 if not added already?(Question 1-2 depending)

        Thank you to everyone for their input

        Kind regards

        Ronster

        • Ronster says:

          I forgot to point out that the above questions should be applied to a USA return avios 2-4-1

  • Небоход says:

    …£500 is hardly oligarch level spending –
    unless it’s an oligarch that has fallen on hard times, perhaps…

    • Rob says:

      Doesn’t get you far in Zegna though – one pair of trousers potentially. There was a jumper I liked last Winter but £990 seemed a tad excessive given that there was nothing particularly clever about it ….

  • Lady London says:

    With cash tix, generally you cannot reverse the direction and stay same ticket. You can add a return leg usually but that’s all. Avios tix generally still obey the ground rules for ticketing that cash tix do.

    If you want to add an outgoing later that’s not available then the way to do it is first to create the correct ticket structure by booking a dummy outbound instead.

    If the leg you will want to add later outbound, will end up being flown as DUB-LHR-LAS, then the dummy outbound should not be just DUB-LHR but should be DUB (or other Irish airport)to any final destination, ideally LAS but probably another longhaul destination is OK. Most will go via LHR anyway. But DUB-LAS uses married segments, ie a specific filed fare priced as one leg DUB-LAS, so you create that structure on the dummy outbound (that you will later replace when the date you want comes up,).

    Depending on the fare type that’s issued (as thay is what gives any more flex) the above should mean it’s just a change to existing ticket when the flight you want comes up, and not something messier requiring skill and possibly some rules to be broken, when you come to book the outbound you really want.

  • Bobby Stodel says:

    I do not know the answer to the question but have a different question. I believe that a 241 CV booking can have four segments. Can I book Iceland to London, London to Johannesburg, Johannesburg to London and London to Athens?

  • Jody says:

    Sorry, my brain is struggling a bit at the moment (blame the thyroid brain fog!). Just wondered if anyone has any bright ideas for maximising the use of our 2 for 1.

    Currently have a 1 way trip booked in business from Rio to Heathrow using the companion voucher. We only needed the one way, as we’re coming back from a cruise. Was a comparative bargain for the taxes/charges at only £400 for both of us.

    I’ve been thinking it feels like a bit of a waste only using the companion voucher one way, and was wondering if I could maximise it by booking another leg to somewhere at another time. Wasn’t sure how that would work with charges.

    If anyone has any pointers before I start looking into it, that would be great. Open to anything really, would just like to get the most out of my companion voucher whilst paying the least possible amount of charges!

  • Max says:

    Anyone can advice me on how to cancel a reward booking online with Aviosfor partner flights? Whne I click cancel booking on Manage my Booking page it asked me to fill a form to apply for a voucher.
    However after filling the form, I only get a email telling me the booking is not eligible for a voucher and booking was not cancelled.
    Thanks!

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

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