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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 initial version 18 months ago was very popular so we’re updating it today.

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 allows you to effectively ‘buy one, get one free’ on the Avios element when you redeem Avios for a British Airways, Iberia or Aer Lingus flight redemption. This could save you as much as – for example – 340,000 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.

You can see the current features of the two BA cards in our British Airways Premium Plus American Express review here and our free British Airways American Express review here.

How can I earn a British Airways companion voucher?

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

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 was a 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 £15,000 Read our full review

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

30,000 Avios and the famous annual 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, 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 or app (if it appears – it can be buggy), 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’. With the new-look website you will see under ‘Your dashboard’ it says ‘Executive Club vouchers: 1’ (in my case) and when you click through you see:

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, Aer Lingus or Iberia services. You can’t use your companion voucher to book a flight on Qatar Airways, Cathay Pacific, American Airlines or any other oneworld partner. 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:

You can use a maximum of two vouchers per booking.

A quick reminder about the ‘extra’ business class availability

Remember that ticking the ‘use a voucher’ box for a Premium Plus voucher 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.

If you have a subscription to a reward seat notification service such as SeatSpy, note that it cannot identify these ‘extra’ seats for 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:

  • four Club World seats (business class)
  • two World Traveller Plus seats (premium economy)
  • eight 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. The best US number is usually 1-800-247-9297 at the time of writing.

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 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 link the two itineraries, apply your companion voucher to the return flights and get half of your Avios refunded. You will retain two separate booking references and if you later cancel you would need to pay two lots of cancellation fees.

Unless you are Avios-rich, you will need to use the first 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 peak date tickets in Club World to Sydney with your companion voucher. You would have been charged 170,000 Avios for both passengers since you used a companion voucher.

To add the return flight ONLINE, you would need 340,000 Avios – 170,000 Avios per person – to book. The call centre would then reimburse you 170,000 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

Be careful with ‘taxes and charges’ if booking the outbound first

Following the last set of (genuine) improvements to the Companion Voucher, you can now pick and choose which combination of cash and Avios you use.

For example, for a Business Class one way flight to New York I see (for two people, when using a voucher):

For reasons which are not clear, the call centre often has problems adding a return flight to an outbound if you want to use a different combination of cash and Avios for each leg.

Ensure you have enough Avios in your account to be able to use the same ‘cash and Avios’ combination for the return flight.

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

The representative APR is 31.0% variable.

Read our full review here. You can apply here.

British Airways American Express Premium Plus credit card

The representative APR is 139.9% variable, including the annual fee.  The representative APR on purchases is 31.0% variable.

Read our full review here. You can apply here.


How to earn Avios from UK credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (July 2024)

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

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

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £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

30,000 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 £15,000 Read our full review

You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points. These points convert at 1:1 into Avios.

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

40,000 bonus points AND (to 27th August) £400 to spend at Amex Travel 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

10,000 points bonus – plus an extra 500 points for our readers 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 an annual £200 Amex Travel credit 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 (96)

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

  • Paddy says:

    I live in Northern Ireland and want to travel to Cape Town in May 2025 to visit relatives. I have a BA Companion Voucher. I don’t travel a lot so this site and associated comments are always very helpful!
    It looks like I need to book the outbound flight at 355 days out to ensure 2 business class tickets. For the return flight, as the London to Belfast leg will be a day after leaving Cape Town i.e. 356 days out at the time of booking, I won’t be allowed to book the whole flight back. My question is – can I phone up at 355 days to just book Cape Town to London and then phone again the next day to book the London to Belfast flight? Or, do I have to wait a day and book the whole journey of both flights at 354 days out and hope 2 business class seats are still available? Hope that makes sense. Thanks.

  • Paddy says:

    That’s brilliant. Thanks Rob.

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

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