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How to use a BA Amex 241 companion voucher to book an Avios flight – a beginners guide

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This is our guide to how to use your British Airways American Express 2-4-1 companion voucher to book a British Airways Avios reward flight.

Whilst we have a long-established ‘expert guide’ to using your British Airways American Express 2-4-1 voucher (click here) the number of emails we receive about using them made us feel that a ‘starter guide’ would also be useful.

The 2 for 1 companion voucher on the British Airways American Express cards is one of the most valuable credit card benefits in the UK. Let’s be honest – for those who know how to maximise its value, nothing else comes close.

How to redeem your BA Amex 241 companion voucher on a British Airways Avios flight

The companion voucher allow you to effectively ‘buy one, get one free’ on the Avios element when you redeem Avios for a British Airways flight redemption. This could save you as much as – for example – 300,000 Avios on a return business class flight to Sydney. If you believe that an Avios is worth 1p, this puts a substantial value on your voucher.

Unfortunately, you do still have to pay the full taxes and charges on your ‘free’ ticket – more on that below.

How can I earn a British Airways companion voucher?

As a reminder, you can earn the Amex companion voucher by:

Following changes in September 2021, the benefits of the companion voucher vary depending on which card it is earned on:

  • the companion voucher from the free BA Amex card can only be used on economy flights and is only valid for one year
  • the companion voucher from the BA Premium Plus card can be used in economy, premium economy, business or first class and is valid for two years. If you choose to redeem in business class, British Airways makes additional seats available for redemption which are not available to other members.

If you’re a solo traveller, you can also use a companion voucher to get a 50% Avios discount for one return ticket. This is a new change introduced in June 2022.

We have written two in-depth reviews to help you work out which card is best for you:

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

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

We generally recommend the Premium Plus card. Whilst it comes with a high annual fee of £250 (refundable pro-rata if you cancel), this is offset by:

  • a 25,000 Avios sign-up bonus
  • the ability to use your companion voucher in any cabin
  • access to additional business class availability when using the voucher
  • the two year expiry period on the voucher, versus one year on the free card and
  • a higher Avios earning rate (1.5 Avios per £1 vs 1 Avios per £1 on the free card)

It’s certainly not the best choice for everyone, but if you’re the sort of person who reads frequent flyer websites …..

Receiving your BA Amex companion voucher

A tracker on the American Express website, and a monthly summary on your statement, will let you know how close you are to triggering your companion voucher for your current membership year.

Once you reach the required spend threshold, Amex will drop your companion voucher into your British Airways Executive Club account within 2-3 days. You will receive an email confirmation but not for another few days.

To see how many vouchers you have on your account, log into ba.com and click on ‘My Executive Club’. Underneath your Avios balance you should see a section called ‘My eVouchers’:

How to redeem your BA Amex 241 companion voucher on a British Airways Avios flight

By logging into your Executive Club you can check the type of companion voucher you have, as well as the date issued and the expiry date.

Before we get started, there are a few basic rules about the Amex 2-4-1 companion vouchers you should know:

  • they can only be used on British Airways services. You can’t use your companion voucher to book a flight on Qatar Airways, Cathay Pacific or even Iberia. Codeshare flights are also not permitted.
  • you need to book AND fly the outbound leg of your redemption flight before the expiry date of the voucher. You can return at any time.
  • you cannot transfer your companion voucher to someone else: you must always be one of the named travellers unless you use two companion vouchers to book a flight for four people, in which case you must be one of the four people
  • you can’t change the name of your companion after booking
  • flights can be cancelled for the usual £35 per person fee, with your companion voucher, Avios and taxes returned to you

How to redeem your companion voucher online for a British Airways flight

The process of redeeming a British Airways American Express companion voucher is surprisingly simple, as long as you aren’t trying to book at the limit of the 355 day booking window.

The easiest way of doing so is via an online booking. In normal circumstances, the ONLY reason to call the BA contact centre would be if you want an open jaw ticket, eg flying into San Francisco and then returning home from Los Angeles. These cannot be booked online.

You can choose to use a companion voucher when you select ‘Book a flight with Avios’ on the BA website:

How to redeem your BA Amex 241 companion voucher on a British Airways Avios flight

You can use a maximum of two vouchers per booking.

Remember that ticking the ‘use a voucher’ box for a Premium Plus voucher issued after 1st September 2021 opens up additional business class seats. Even if you are just ‘testing’ ba.com to see what seats are there, make sure you go through the extra step of ticking the ‘use a voucher’ box so you see the full range of seats open to you.

How to redeem your companion voucher over the phone

You can also redeem your companion voucher over the phone. The British Airways phone lines in the UK are:

  • 0800 123 111 for Executive Club Gold members
  • 0800 408 0 009 for Executive Club Silver members
  • 0800 597 7580 for Executive Club Bronze members
  • 0800 597 7580 for all other Executive Club members

How to book Avios redemptions 355 days in advance

British Airways only guarantees a limited number of seats for Avios redemption per flight:

  • 4 Club World seats (business class)
  • 2 World Traveller Plus seats (premium economy)
  • 8 World Traveller seats (economy)

…. which become available for booking at the same time as cash sales begin, 355 days before departure. That said, more seats are likely to open up as the months pass.

On peak holiday routes you will often find that availability is snapped up 355 days in advance, especially in business class. Cape Town, the Maldives and Sydney are routes where booking 355 days in advance in peak season is likely to be required, although over school holidays this can apply to any destination.

If you want to avoid disappointment, there is one way to improve your chances of success booking your BA Avios redemption: by booking at midnight, 355 days in advance. Don’t worry if you can’t do this – more seats will usually open up later – but if you absolutely must travel on a certain day or at a super-peak period then booking 355 days in advance is the only guaranteed route.

By booking 355 days out, you will have your choice of all 14 seats available for Avios redemption.

Seats become available at midnight GMT, so 1am BST during the Summer.

How to redeem your BA Amex 241 companion voucher on a British Airways Avios flight

Whilst you can access this inventory online at midnight GMT, it is worth calling instead. This is because the call centre is able to hold seats whilst the agent completes a booking, whilst online bookings are only confirmed once you click the final payment confirmation.

Having the flights in your basket at ba.com counts for nothing until you click ’pay’. Multiple people can have the same seats in their basket at once. In many cases they will all be disappointed as someone else may have them ‘on hold’ via the call centre as they talk through all of their personal details.

There is only one problem with calling. The British Airways UK call centres are not open at midnight GMT. To get around this, you must call one of BA’s international call centres.

The best option is generally the US or Japanese call centres, as their time zones line up correctly. You can find BA’s international call centre numbers and opening times on their website here. Skype is the most effective way to call.

You will want to call around five minutes before tickets go on sale so that you can complete the necessary security checks and reach the correct department. You need to ask to be put through to the Avios / Executive Club team when you first call.

I have successfully redeemed my companion vouchers on popular routes several times now by following this method. This includes getting all four Club World tickets to Sydney for a family trip next Spring on my first choice of dates.

How do I book my return flights 355 days in advance?

The only problem with booking your outbound flights when tickets go on sale 355 days in advance is that you cannot book your return flights at the same time, as they are not on sale.

You have to wait until 355 days before your return date before you can book these.

There are two ways to do this. You can either:

  • book your return flights by calling the call centre at midnight GMT, which will be able to add them directly to your outbound booking
  • book your return flights online as a fresh booking, without your companion voucher. This will obviously cost the full Avios price. You can later call British Airways at a time convenient to you to merge the two itineraries, apply your companion voucher to the return flights and get half of your Avios refunded.

Unless you are Avios-rich, you will need to use the frst option. This is because you would need the full amount of Avios, for all passengers, in your account to book online via the second method.

For example, let’s assume you have booked two outbound tickets in Club World to Sydney with your companion voucher. You would have been charged 150,000 Avios for both passengers since you used a companion voucher.

To add the return flight ONLINE, you would need 300,000 Avios – 150,000 Avios per person – to book. The call centre would then reimburse you 150,000 Avios when you call up to link the bookings.

This table lists the Avios required per person by route. If you do not have enough Avios to cover both passengers then your only option is the first method – to pick up the phone to BA’s call centre who will be able to modify your original outbound booking to add the return flights.

How to redeem your BA Amex 241 companion voucher on a British Airways Avios flight

There is also a ‘taxes and charges’ consideration

If you call British Airways to add the return leg to an existing outbound flight, the taxes and charges due are the standard amount for a return flight. This sounds like an obvious statement, I admit.

However, if you use our alternative plan above and book your return flight online for full Avios and then call BA later to get half of the Avios returned, your flights are NOT merged. You retain two one-way bookings with two separate booking references. The taxes you have paid are the taxes and charges for 2 x one-way flights and not the taxes for a return flight.

For reasons too complex to explain, for cities in the US you will pay substantially more in taxes and charges with 2 x one-way flights than for a return. If you are redeeming to the US then you must call BA at midnight GMT to add the return to your existing booking if you don’t want a nasty taxes surprise.

For most other destinations, the difference should be more modest. Here is an example:

United States (best booked as a return flight redemption)

  • Return business class Avios flight to New York = £853 of taxes and charges
  • Cost when booked as separate outbound and return flights: £553 + £743 = £1,296 of taxes and charges

United Arab Emirates (little difference between the two methods)

  • Return business class Avios flight to Dubai = £716 of taxes and charges
  • Cost when booked as separate outbound and return flights: £468 + £285 = £753 of taxes and charges

If you have a companion voucher issued after 1st September 2021, it is possible to book your reward flight starting outside the UK. This would reduce the taxes and charges bill sharply, especially if starting from Dublin, as long as your stopover in London is shorter than 24 hours. You would need to travel to Dublin to start your trip, however – you cannot hop on the flight at Heathrow. Your ticket would be cancelled as soon as check-in closed in Dublin.

Conclusion

We hope this is a helpful beginners guide to using a British Airways American Express 2-4-1 companion voucher.

We recommend you also read our more advanced version here which looks at some of the other quirks of using a BA companion voucher, plus information on making cancellations, changes etc. Today I have been looking specifically at the original booking process.

If you have any questions or comments please post in the comments and we will update this article to reflect areas of confusion.

Key card information

British Airways American Express credit card

Representative 26.0% APR variable

Read our full review here. You can apply here.

British Airways American Express Premium Plus credit card

Representative 103.7% APR variable based on an assumed £1,200 credit limit and £250 annual fee. Interest rate on purchases 26.0% APR variable.

Read our full review here. You can apply here.


HFP-Barclaycard-Avios-Card

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (December 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:

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 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 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.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

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

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and unbeatable 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 10,500 Avios.

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

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.

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a £200 Amex Travel credit every year 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.

Comments (104)

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

  • PJJ says:

    Is the online booking process the same if you are booking a solo return flight ?
    Does it automatically reduce the number of Avios by half ?
    Or is it only done by booking on the phone
    TIA

  • Vit says:

    “If you’re a solo traveller, you can also use a companion voucher to get a 50% Avios discount for one return ticket. This is a new change introduced in June 2022”

    Rob, I was not able to catch up with hfp last few month I missed this one here. Are you able to post a link to article if you have written any? Anyway, still this is a good read as we now have 2 voucher (1 old and 1 new) to redeem.

  • NorthernLass says:

    Re the return surcharges from the US – if it’s a short flight (e.g. BOS), you’ve got avios to burn, and you can’t get through or don’t want to call BA, you can book the RFS option for 25/30k avios plus £50/75. I ended up doing this for our return from MIA at New Year as all award seats were getting snapped up as soon as they appeared. BA will refund the 50% avios. Domestic connections on these routes don’t seem to attract the RFS fee, either.

  • AJA says:

    Probably worth also pointing out that you can’t combine the old and new style (post Sept 21)companion vouchers which is an issue if you want to book 4 seats using 2 vouchers

    • Rob says:

      Had to draw the line somewhere between the starter article (this) and the more advanced one (linked).

  • Richie says:

    We are a family of 3 (me, partner + 3 year old) Voucher earnt in my name. What’s the best strategy for booking 3 seats, 2 using avois and one paid for. Will BA let me book my daughter on her own paid for seat? Can the bookings be linked together some how?

    • Rob says:

      No and No. Need to book you and child on the 241 and partner on a separate booking.

  • Lady London says:

    Guessing Rob decided not to mention as this isn’t written down anywhere official. Once you have earned the voucher and it is in your account it cannot be taken away if you then find the need to subsequently cancel the Amex it was earned on. Amex agents will swear you will lose it (for obvious reasons). You won’t. Decades now of this known as a fact in the frequent flyer community. What you still must do is pay any taxes etc., on an Amex, any Amex, anyone’s Amex (does not have to be yours) when you use it to book. We heard about a rare instance recently when someone used a Mastercard to book with the voucher and the system had accepted it but in the course of needing to deal with BA on the ticket later, the BA jobsworth noticed this and cancelled the ticket with no comeback.

    • sayling says:

      I think one of the terms/conditions state something about the card is required for proving validity, identity or similar. I’ve made a point of keeping mine after account cancellation, *just in case*

      • Lady London says:

        Yes, there is often a condition hidden in airline small print that you must be able to produce the card you used to book, at the airport. Apparently could be required even if expired.

        The few incidents I’ve seen of people actually being asked to produce the card, seemed to me to be highly likely to be checkin agents looking for opportunities to offload people off an overbooked flight without compensation etc. So carry even the expired card just in case.

  • grahaem brown says:

    I have already earned my 2-4-1 BA Amex voucher, my Barclaycard upgrade voucher and reached the spend for the Amex Gold miles bonus and Virgin upgrade voucher. What is the best card to use until each of these refreshes?

    • Lady London says:

      Carry on using the Amex Gold and then do a carefully timed upgrade to Plat?(ie on the cusp of the bigger spend completion for Plat? Oherwise the Marriott Amex as early in the year as poss to maximise the free 15 nights credit

      We could really do with a Hilton card back in the market.

    • Reney says:

      Lots of options, would help if you answer the following:

      What points do you need or want more or don’t need more of? Avios, MR, Virgin or something else?

      Is there a reason you don’t want to shut down the fee paying cards to get pro rata fees back and re open them later?

  • King of Sutton says:

    Last week I managed to get 4 x CW for next Easter to Orlando. However, I’ve noticed a bit of an issue… I had 2 x old style companion vouchers and thought I had applied them to the booking. I was rushing and it looks like I must have only selected one of the vouchers (I know I should’ve noticed it when it asked for 300k miles in order to proceed).

    I know that you can’t add 2-4-1s retrospectively so I assume I’ve got no chance if I phone up and ask them to correct my mistake? I really thought I’d selected both but clearly I’ve not done that + I’m reluctant to risk cancelling and hoping that the seats re-appear.

    Is it even possible for the call centre staff to do this retrospectively? Don’t really fancy spending an hour or two on hold for something that has got pretty much zero chance of succeeding.

    • Reney says:

      if you read the advance article or another question earlier in the chat, they will both tell you don’t bother, no way.

      • Rob says:

        However … if you cancel the seats there is a very high change, this far in advance, that they return to inventory and can be rebooked on Avios. Obviously some risk though …

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