There is some exciting news today for anyone who has a British Airways American Express 2-4-1 companion voucher.
BA and American Express have unveiled two important changes to how the companion vouchers work.
One of these is a genuine improvement (I’m less sure about the 2nd one!) and, even better, the changes are already reflected when you try to book at ba.com.
You can see the new list of card features in our British Airways Premium Plus American Express review here and our free British Airways American Express review here.
Here are the two changes:
- BA Amex change #1: The companion voucher can now be used by a solo traveller to get a 50% discount on the cost of an Avios redemption
- BA Amex change #2: You can now mix the percentage of Avios and cash used
Let’s get the key bit of small print out of the way first.
These changes only apply to 2-4-1 companion vouchers issued after 1st September 2021. These vouchers are different to older vouchers because:
- the voucher on the free British Airways American Express card can only be used to book Economy flights
- the voucher on the British Airways Premium Plus American Express card gets access to additional inventory in Club World which makes it a lot easier to redeem for business class seats
If you only have ‘old style’ vouchers on your account, nothing you are about to read will apply to you. You will need to wait until your next voucher is issued.
Your 2-4-1 companion voucher can now be used by solo travellers for a 50% Avios discount
This is the big one. It is, without a doubt, a response to the new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard which we covered here and which has a 25,000 Avios sign-up bonus.
In our view, the Barclaycard Avios Mastercard is the ideal card for people who liked to travel solo. This is because it comes with an annual BA Avios upgrade voucher which can be used by either a couple (to upgrade one leg of their flight) or a solo traveller (to upgrade a return flight).
I can imagine that American Express was starting to see a drift to the new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard from this group. This change means that solo travellers now have a good reason to stick with, or return to, American Express.
How does this work in practice?
It is as simple as you would expect:
- Go to the Avios booking page on ba.com
- Tick the box to say that you want to use your companion voucher (which we may now need to rename!)
- Search for availability for one person
This is what you will see:
There is now a message saying that you have activated the solo traveller 50% discount.
Whilst the message references the Premium Plus card, the 50% discount also applies to Economy bookings made using a new-style free British Airways American Express 2-4-1 voucher.
I did a dummy booking for a return flight to New York for one person on an off peak date. This would usually cost 100,000 Avios + £844 in taxes and charges.
Instead, you now see this:
You are charged 100% of the taxes and charges but only 50% of the Avios.
One benefit of this change vs the Barclaycard Avios Mastercard upgrade voucher is that it is valid for First Class travel. The Barclaycard voucher can only be used to upgrade an Avios booking from Economy to Premium Economy, or from Premium Economy to Business Class.
PS. There is one loophole which BA seems to have missed. You cannot use 2 x new-style BA Amex vouchers at once to book for three people, only one of which is the cardholder. You can do this if four people are travelling, but not three. I think it is worth the BA IT team having a look at this because, after all, there are plenty of families of three out there.
There’s nothing bad to say about this!
It is a 100% genuine improvement which offers a lot of value to some people without taking anything away from those who won’t benefit.
In Part 2 ….
There is another interesting feature in the screenshot above.
As you can see, you are offered ‘More pricing options’.
In Part 2 of this article on the British Airways American Express 2-4-1 companion voucher changes, we’ll look at what these options are.
Learn more about the American Express and Barclaycard Avios-earning credit cards:
British Airways American Express Premium Plus
25,000 Avios and the famous annual 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review
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
Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard
Get 25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £10,000 Read our full review
Barclaycard Avios Mastercard
5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £20,000 Read our full review