Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Forums Frequent flyer programs British Airways Executive Club The ‘How to book the return leg with 2-4-1 companion voucher’ thread

  • annabh 45 posts

    I am in total despair with this process. I managed to book 2 seats for an outbound in business and have been trying and failing to book a third using another companion voucher for my wife. As it is Easter 2025 I guess it is very competitive. However I have tried all week and failed every night. I have dialled the US call centre as well as trying to book online and have failed to get through each time as it is clear now that they cut off the call at 00:55 if you have not got through.

    I am really in despair about this whole thing, it’s stressful and ridiculous to be doing this night after night, they really need to come up with a better way of doing it.

    I have my booking process down to under 20 seconds but I am still not fast enough to get the seat. I could try to phone the US even earlier but how long will they allow you to hang on the call for, half an hour seems crazy but that seems to be what it will take as phoning 20 mins before is just not cutting it.

    An idea of the destination would be helpful for people to give advice?

    As things stand it seems just too ridiculous – and this is even before I have to try and get return legs in 2 weeks time. I can quite see I will end up with 2 outbound business class tickets I cannot use unless I fly back economy or pay.

    Any other ideas? I wonder if it would be possible to get someone to code an automated bot to make the booking or something I am that desperate for ideas on this!

    Where are you trying to go to?

    travelmonkey 31 posts

    Just wanted to say thank you to NorthernLass and everyone else on this thread for sharing experience/advice.

    Confirmed the addition of my return leg just now with BA (1-800-452-1201 via skype) for London-Tokyo and feeling great. Called around 12:30 at first as I was fearing the lines cutting but got through to an agent around 12:40 who said I would have to call back as they couldn’t stay on. Re-dialled at 12:45ish and got through a couple minutes before 1:00 and managed the secure 2 CW seats with my CV.

    Good luck to everyone on securing flights!

    That’s so weird… last night I too called 1-800-452-1201 via skype to secure the return leg on a LHR-HND itinerary. I dialled at 12:35, spent 20min on hold then go cut off! There’s something odd with the telephone queuing system, as you clearly jumped me in the queue on your second dial.

    I called the Japan number just after midnight, got through to an agent about 1:05 and managed to secure the two seats I wanted. I suspect that was only possible due to the website maintenance preventing people from completing transactions online last night.

    baw187 8 posts

    Just wanted to say thank you to NorthernLass and everyone else on this thread for sharing experience/advice.

    Confirmed the addition of my return leg just now with BA (1-800-452-1201 via skype) for London-Tokyo and feeling great. Called around 12:30 at first as I was fearing the lines cutting but got through to an agent around 12:40 who said I would have to call back as they couldn’t stay on. Re-dialled at 12:45ish and got through a couple minutes before 1:00 and managed the secure 2 CW seats with my CV.

    Good luck to everyone on securing flights!

    That’s good to hear. I have the fear about having to call up in a couple of weeks to secure my return seats. I had planned to call early and hope to keep them on by getting hotel quotes. Did you try that or were they pretty adamant you had to call back? I dialled about 12.45 to do the outbound but never got through. Luckily I got the seats online but I don’t have enough Avios to cover the whole amount so will need to speak to an agent for the return.

    NorthernLass 7,985 posts

    @highflyer77 – I am also wondering where you are trying to travel to. If you’ve done your research here you should be well aware that getting desirable seats requires a great deal of tenacity and you need to be prepared to be flexible.

    Also – if the standard avios seats went immediately, there’s no guarantee of finding a 3rd, though more may be released later and the 241 may open more up in time (this could be several months away though).

    BA doesn’t guarantee anything anything other than releasing a certain number of seats, so it’s pointless getting frustrated and much better to devise a workaround for any situation you find yourself in.
    For a busy period like Easter you should always have a Plan B.

    totestornot123 49 posts

    Since the T355 is now into the ‘Peak’ area of next April, anyone know if the extra 10k avios when booking during peak dates is for the entire booking or per person?

    I can’t seem to dummy book to try for 2 people as I lack enough Avios. I am looking at HND to LHR if that helps,

    Thanks

    NorthernLass 7,985 posts

    Where are you getting the pricing from? E.g. Seatspy shows the avios price per person, per leg, so at peak time a return flight from LHR to MIA would be 200k avios per passenger in CW (so 200k for 2 if using a 241). Surcharges don’t change between peak and off peak.

    You should be able to do a dummy booking, but the avios pricing you can’t “afford” will be greyed out, unless this has changed at some point.

    travelmonkey 31 posts

    Since the T355 is now into the ‘Peak’ area of next April, anyone know if the extra 10k avios when booking during peak dates is for the entire booking or per person?

    I can’t seem to dummy book to try for 2 people as I lack enough Avios. I am looking at HND to LHR if that helps,

    Thanks

    It’s per person, but with a companion voucher that is irrelevant. Over the last 2 weeks I’ve booked 2x LHR-HND-LHR in CW using a 241.

    Outbound was 100,000 Avios (off peak) + £550 + £30 (phone booking fee) – would have been 200,000 Avios without the 241
    Inbound was 110,000 Avios (peak) + £550 – would have been 220,000 Avios without the 241

    Make sense?

    jakals92 4 posts

    Just wanted to say thank you to NorthernLass and everyone else on this thread for sharing experience/advice.

    Confirmed the addition of my return leg just now with BA (1-800-452-1201 via skype) for London-Tokyo and feeling great. Called around 12:30 at first as I was fearing the lines cutting but got through to an agent around 12:40 who said I would have to call back as they couldn’t stay on. Re-dialled at 12:45ish and got through a couple minutes before 1:00 and managed the secure 2 CW seats with my CV.

    Good luck to everyone on securing flights!

    That’s so weird… last night I too called 1-800-452-1201 via skype to secure the return leg on a LHR-HND itinerary. I dialled at 12:35, spent 20min on hold then go cut off! There’s something odd with the telephone queuing system, as you clearly jumped me in the queue on your second dial.

    I called the Japan number just after midnight, got through to an agent about 1:05 and managed to secure the two seats I wanted. I suspect that was only possible due to the website maintenance preventing people from completing transactions online last night.

    Definitely is luck of the draw, even on the agent you get. Weird how it seems I did skip ahead in the queue. Other half just pointed out that we might be on the same flight back home!

    To the others feeling it’s too hard of a battle, my advice is to read as much of this and other threads to prepare as much as possible. This was actually my first attempt at adding the return flight and I managed to book my outbound on the first attempt (online) too. Of course luck involved but being able to shave seconds off by knowing what to do can only help.

    Baw187, I had half a mind to try stall by asking other questions, but think I’d shown my hand by asking about the flight so didn’t try. That’s definitely doable I feel.

    travelmonkey 31 posts

    Other half just pointed out that we might be on the same flight back home!

    Alas I don’t think so. At midnight I saw two CW seats disappear for the afternoon BA6 787 flight, while I booked onto the morning BA8 A350 flight. Either way, I wish you an excellent trip!

    jamie 31 posts

    Apologies if I have missed the answer to the following queries, I’ve been looking through the thread all morning and may have missed them.

    I have outward Club World flights booked for LHR-HND using a companion voucher. I selected the 3rd option (with peak pricing at the time I booked) so 90,000 avios + £700. When I book the return (assuming I can secure club again), I intend to call and add the flights to the original booking as I don’t have enough avios to book separately and reclaim. When I do this can I use any avios + cash combination for the return?

    I know if I book as a separate booking I need to ensure I select the same avios + cash option as the outbound to be able to get the 50% avios refund. But If I am adding to the booking I already have will the agent inist on the same combination or do I have some flex?

    The other query is in a similar vein. If a booking for an outward flight is booked on Iberia and the return is BA, does that change any of the answer to the question above?

    TIA

    jamie 31 posts

    Apologies if this has already been answered, I have been looking through this thread all morning and may have missed it but I have a couple of queries about using the Amex 241 voucher.

    I have outbound flights booked LHR-TYO in Club World using a companion voucher. When I booked the flights I selected the 3rd option down, which as it was a peak day, cost 90,000 avios and £700.

    I’m hoping to book Club world flights for the return when they become available and plan to do this by phoning up and adding them to the existing booking (I don’t have enough points to book the return separately and get BA to link them and refund the 50%).

    My question is, will the agent insist on selecting the 3rd avios + cash option for the return to be consistent with the outbound or will I have flex to pick whichever combination I want? (I’m aware that if I go the separate booking & refund route it must be the same combination but I am not sure if that still applies if adding the flights to an existing booking).

    My other queries are related to this, namely does the answer to the query above hold true if I was to book PE for the return or alternatively book a return with iberia ie must I pick the 3rd option or do I have flex?

    Thank you in advance

    PeteM 737 posts

    My question is, will the agent insist on selecting the 3rd avios + cash option for the return to be consistent with the outbound or will I have flex to pick whichever combination I want? (I’m aware that if I go the separate booking & refund route it must be the same combination but I am not sure if that still applies if adding the flights to an existing booking).

    My other queries are related to this, namely does the answer to the query above hold true if I was to book PE for the return or alternatively book a return with iberia ie must I pick the 3rd option or do I have flex?

    Yes to the first two. I don’t believe you’d be allowed to combine an outbound BA with inbound IB.

    baw187 8 posts

    Just wanted to say thank you to NorthernLass and everyone else on this thread for sharing experience/advice.

    Confirmed the addition of my return leg just now with BA (1-800-452-1201 via skype) for London-Tokyo and feeling great. Called around 12:30 at first as I was fearing the lines cutting but got through to an agent around 12:40 who said I would have to call back as they couldn’t stay on. Re-dialled at 12:45ish and got through a couple minutes before 1:00 and managed the secure 2 CW seats with my CV.

    Good luck to everyone on securing flights!

    That’s so weird… last night I too called 1-800-452-1201 via skype to secure the return leg on a LHR-HND itinerary. I dialled at 12:35, spent 20min on hold then go cut off! There’s something odd with the telephone queuing system, as you clearly jumped me in the queue on your second dial.

    I called the Japan number just after midnight, got through to an agent about 1:05 and managed to secure the two seats I wanted. I suspect that was only possible due to the website maintenance preventing people from completing transactions online last night.

    Definitely is luck of the draw, even on the agent you get. Weird how it seems I did skip ahead in the queue. Other half just pointed out that we might be on the same flight back home!

    To the others feeling it’s too hard of a battle, my advice is to read as much of this and other threads to prepare as much as possible. This was actually my first attempt at adding the return flight and I managed to book my outbound on the first attempt (online) too. Of course luck involved but being able to shave seconds off by knowing what to do can only help.

    Baw187, I had half a mind to try stall by asking other questions, but think I’d shown my hand by asking about the flight so didn’t try. That’s definitely doable I feel.

    Good stuff, I’m going to give that a go. I’ll have to get ready with an extensive list of hotels I want them to price up for me!!
    Failing that, what is the Japan number that people are dialling and is that via Skype? I just tried dialling the number on the BA site on skype and I seemed to be getting a standard Japanese ‘you’re calling an invalid number, hang up and try again’ type message. I appreciate they will be shut currently but assumed I’d have gotten the BA message in English. I suspect I was dialling it wrong.

    NorthernLass 7,985 posts

    @jamie, you can indeed mix and match airlines with the 241, but in all likelihood you’ll be charged the same payment option as on the outbound. There are many instances here of this being a requirement (including on a booking I made recently) and only one where a different option was allowed, so you can ask but I think the agent in that case may have not known exactly what they were doing. You also risk the ticket being cancelled if BA spots any irregularity in the booking process, which would really scupper your holiday plans!

    Aston100 1,423 posts

    My question is, will the agent insist on selecting the 3rd avios + cash option for the return to be consistent with the outbound or will I have flex to pick whichever combination I want? (I’m aware that if I go the separate booking & refund route it must be the same combination but I am not sure if that still applies if adding the flights to an existing booking).

    My other queries are related to this, namely does the answer to the query above hold true if I was to book PE for the return or alternatively book a return with iberia ie must I pick the 3rd option or do I have flex?

    Yes to the first two. I don’t believe you’d be allowed to combine an outbound BA with inbound IB.

    Hi Pete, I was told you can do this.
    By three different BA phone agents on the Avios booking number in the past 6 days.
    I specifically asked about using a companion voucher with outbound on one carrier and inbound on the other.
    This includes flying in or out of London or Madrid into Haneda or Narita.
    I was very careful with my wording.
    Unfortunately, I didn’t think to ask about the mix of Avios & cash. Though given Iberia prices get progressively worse as you reduce the Avios component, I think you’d have to stick with the highest Avios option for both airlines.

    NorthernLass 7,985 posts

    People have posted that they’ve booked, e.g. BA plus IB or BA plus EI, I think mostly in the thread on using the 241 on other airlines.

    jamie 31 posts

    @PeteM, @NorthernLass & @Aston100 – thank you for the info, that is really helpful.

    travelmonkey 31 posts

    Failing that, what is the Japan number that people are dialling and is that via Skype?

    I used +81 3 3298 5209 (options 2 [for English] 1 2 1)

    I dialed from my mobile (probably an expensive 15 mins); I’m not aware it’s free on Skype but haven’t investigated. Probably cheaper to have done it using Skype credit, but I wasn’t expecting to need to call it.

    The Japan number only opens at midnight GMT, so is no good for grabbing seats in the first few seconds as you won’t have reached an agent no matter how quick you call. It only makes sense if:
    1. You couldn’t get through on the USA number
    2. You can’t buy online (ie. It’s the return and you don’t have enough avios to buy outright)
    3. There are still seats left

    I got lucky because the IT maintenance a couple of nights ago prevented anyone buying online. I could, however, keep searching online and see there were seats available while waiting for an agent. That might also work on your situation, but it’s probably a last resort, not a plan A.

    baw187 8 posts

    Thanks @travelmonkey for the number and information.

    I don’t have enough Avios to cover the whole return so will need to speak to someone. Hoping I get through to the US line.

    Do you know if I was to pay for the return leg with Avios and cash (to make up the difference) if they would refund the cash part as long as I used enough avios to cover when used in conjunction with the voucher? If that’s an option I’ll do that.

    travelmonkey 31 posts

    Do you know if I was to pay for the return leg with Avios and cash (to make up the difference) if they would refund the cash part as long as I used enough avios to cover when used in conjunction with the voucher? If that’s an option I’ll do that.

    I don’t have a definitive answer, but from what I’ve read I don’t think you’d get the cash part back if you tried to rebalance later? It sounds like they refund avois but ignore the cash part when stitching together the two bookings.

    baw187 8 posts

    Do you know if I was to pay for the return leg with Avios and cash (to make up the difference) if they would refund the cash part as long as I used enough avios to cover when used in conjunction with the voucher? If that’s an option I’ll do that.

    I don’t have a definitive answer, but from what I’ve read I don’t think you’d get the cash part back if you tried to rebalance later? It sounds like they refund avois but ignore the cash part when stitching together the two bookings.

    No worries, i didn’t think so. I’ll maybe call them and check for certain in advance but sounds like I’m in the call centre lottery! I have a couple of options to be fair so hopefully all ok.

    jamie 31 posts

    I have friends who have booked MAD-TYO outbound on Iberia using their Companion Voucher and are planning to book the return on BA when the flights become available. From looking though this thread this appears to be be possible. But I have seen (particularly toward the start of this thread so a couple of years ago), that when people phoned up to add the return leg on BA to their booking the original outward leg was repriced by BA increasing the cost. Is this still an issue or can they expect to pay the avios + cash they can see on BA for the return leg?

    highflyer77 3 posts

    @highflyer77 – I am also wondering where you are trying to travel to. If you’ve done your research here you should be well aware that getting desirable seats requires a great deal of tenacity and you need to be prepared to be flexible.

    Also – if the standard avios seats went immediately, there’s no guarantee of finding a 3rd, though more may be released later and the 241 may open more up in time (this could be several months away though).

    BA doesn’t guarantee anything anything other than releasing a certain number of seats, so it’s pointless getting frustrated and much better to devise a workaround for any situation you find yourself in.
    For a busy period like Easter you should always have a Plan B.

    It is Tokyo like many others here from the sounds of it. I have done a lot of research and fully prepared for it to be tough. However many have said the US call centre option works fairly easily and I was blindsided by the 00:55 closure, hence missed my dates.

    In terms of a plan b, what options could there be? I do not want to pay cash for a club world single return and hence use my companion voucher for a one way flight. So would you guys accept economy on the return or give up if it came to it?

    I notice someone suggesting Tokyo to Madrid. Would this work as a contingency option for the return? I am sure there are many here also constrained by Easter holidays and so continuing to extend the trip out until I get seats is not really an option. Would you start trying for the return days before you really want to come back or accept the risk of missing out entirely?

    What a pain British summer time is in this regard, as a few weeks ago the 1am closure of the US office would not be an issue. With so many people trying to secure newly released flights I can quite imagine that most callers at this time will be international customers trying to get reward seats at 1am. You’d have thought they might extend the opening by 15 minutes to accommodate this. But then you’d think any company with a customer service ethic would not schedule website maintenance bang on 1am when the flights are released and yet that’s what they did. Pretty sure that’s why I missed out on on that night.

    I have this horrible feeling that the returns on the last few days of the Easter holidays will be even more impossible than usual, due to the fact many will hold outbounds and will be willing to try days before they really want to come back, therefore artificially pushing up demand yet further? It really does feel like winning a lottery to get seats on this route.

    Any other suggestions welcome!

    travelmonkey 31 posts

    <
    It is Tokyo like many others here from the sounds of it. I have done a lot of research and fully prepared for it to be tough. However many have said the US call centre option works fairly easily and I was blindsided by the 00:55 closure, hence missed my dates.

    In terms of a plan b, what options could there be? I do not want to pay cash for a club world single return and hence use my companion voucher for a one way flight. So would you guys accept economy on the return or give up if it came to it?

    I notice someone suggesting Tokyo to Madrid. Would this work as a contingency option for the return? I am sure there are many here also constrained by Easter holidays and so continuing to extend the trip out until I get seats is not really an option. Would you start trying for the return days before you really want to come back or accept the risk of missing out entirely?

    What a pain British summer time is in this regard, as a few weeks ago the 1am closure of the US office would not be an issue. With so many people trying to secure newly released flights I can quite imagine that most callers at this time will be international customers trying to get reward seats at 1am. You’d have thought they might extend the opening by 15 minutes to accommodate this. But then you’d think any company with a customer service ethic would not schedule website maintenance bang on 1am when the flights are released and yet that’s what they did. Pretty sure that’s why I missed out on on that night.

    I have this horrible feeling that the returns on the last few days of the Easter holidays will be even more impossible than usual, due to the fact many will hold outbounds and will be willing to try days before they really want to come back, therefore artificially pushing up demand yet further? It really does feel like winning a lottery to get seats on this route.

    Any other suggestions welcome!

    Don’t know if you’ve been following the Tokyo thread too, but I was suggesting on there to consider connecting itineraries on Qatar or Finnair. More expensive than using a companion voucher, true, but less expensive than no voucher or cash. Also opens up Narita flights or open jaw options with Osaka or even Seoul!

    And yes, backup plans are wise. I currently hold both a direct BA flight home and a QR coding itinerary the day before in case I failed to secure to BA one. I will probably drop the QR award flights when BA actually proves the payment. (Which was delayed due to maintenance)

    totestornot123 49 posts

    Can anyone manage to search for reward flights (any class) from HND to LHR for the T355 dates? (April 7/8th 2025?) It keeps erroring for me, tried on multiple devices. I can search for other dates or other city combinations, just not this one.

  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

The UK's biggest frequent flyer website uses cookies, which you can block via your browser settings. Continuing implies your consent to this policy. Our privacy policy is here.