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I’ve written about the changes coming to the Barclays US Airways card and how some of its benefits are changing. One major change is the discontinuation of the annual Companion Certificate that comes with the card at the end of 2014.
The certificate lets you bring up to 2 companions with you on US Airways operated flights for $99 plus taxes and fees, as long as you’ve paid at least $250 for your round-trip ticket. You can use it to fly coach within the US (not including Hawaii and Alaska) and Canada.
Emily recently applied for the Barclays US Airways card and received her Companion Certificate in the mail. There’s a lot of fine print and some tricks to booking with it, but I’ll show you how!
How Do You Use the Companion Certificate?
1. How Long Is It Good For?
After you’ve made your 1st purchase and paid the annual fee on the Barclays US Airways card, you’ll receive the Companion Certificate in the mail. It looks like this:
You have 9 months from the date of issue of the certificate to book your flights, and 12 months from the date of issue to travel. This also applies to certificates issued on current cardholder’s anniversaries (you get 1 Companion Certificate each year).
But remember, new certificates will NOT be issued after December 2014.
2. When Might You Want to Use the Certificate?
Sometimes, award tickets aren’t available and you have to buy a paid ticket. Even though these tickets might be expensive, if there are 3 in your group you’ll save a significant amount of money. And remember, you’ll earn miles on both the paid ticket and companion tickets!
And while there are many blackout dates, you CAN book a ticket just 14 days before you leave and use the certificate to add on 2 greatly reduced fares.
If you can travel during off-peak times, this could be terrific deal. Some ideas that come to mind are:
- A last-minute getaway for a couple’s anniversary
- 2 parents and a child flying to a family reunion
- A young couple visiting Grandma for her birthday
- Grandma and Grandpa flying to see the birth of their grandchild
- Mom & Dad flying to see their child’s university graduation
3. How Do You Book Your Tickets?
You can NOT book tickets online if you want to use the Companion Certificate. You have to call US Airways at 800-428-4322 to buy the tickets. You’ll also need to quote the SHARES reference code on the certificate.
You will NOT be charged a telephone booking fee.
Before you call, you can check for the flights you want on the US Airways website. Note the flight numbers and dates you want (and be sure the flights are all on US Airways or US Airways Express).
Your ticket must be round-trip and cost at least $250 before taxes and fees. Up to 2 companions can fly with you (on the same itinerary) for $99 each, plus the taxes and fees they would have paid on a full fare ticket.
But there are quite a number of restrictions! Here are some of the rules:
- Travel must be within the continental US or Canada (not Hawaii, Alaska, or Puerto Rico)
- Flights must only be on US Airways or US Airways Express aircraft (NOT American Airlines or other partners)
- You must use your Barclays US Airways card to pay for the tickets
- After booking, the Companion Certificate must be mailed to US Airways
- Tickets must be purchased at least 14 days prior to travel
- You must use the certificate – it can’t be given to someone else
- You and your companions will earn US Airways miles on the tickets (they’re treated like paid tickets, not award tickets)
In addition, there are a lot of blackout dates, both system-wide and for specific cities. They’re mostly on major holidays and busy travel periods. Here are the dates you can NOT travel:
- 2014: Jan 3, 4, 5, Feb 14, Mar 16, 23, Apr 13, 27, May 22, 23, Jun 19, 20, 22, 26, 27, Jul 6, 7, 27, Aug 3, Oct 10, 19, Nov 30, Dec 1, 19, 20, 26, 27, 28
- 2015: Jan 3, 4, Feb 13, Mar 15, 20, 22, 26, 27, 29, Apr 2, 3, 6, 12, May 21, 22, Jun 25, 26, Jul 5, 6, Oct 18, Nov 20, 29, 30, Dec 18, 19, 26, 27
And for the 2015, these specific cities have blackout dates as follows (the dates for city-specific blackout dates in 2014 have already passed):
- Jan 15 from Dallas
- Jan 29, 30 to Phoenix
- Feb 2, 3 from Phoenix
- Feb 13 to New Orleans
- Jan 15 from Dallas
- Feb 18 from New Orleans
- Apr 7 from Indianapolis
- Apr 30, May 1 to Louisville
- May 3 from Louisville
It’s a wonder that folks are able to use these certificates with all the restrictions! That said, if you can find a way to make it work, you could save a lot of money if you’re traveling with companions.
Note: Folks on Flyertalk complain that it’s become increasingly difficult to find routings that are exclusively on US Airways aircraft. Because of the merger, many routings involve flights on both US Airways and American Airlines planes. You can NOT use the Companion Certificate on American Airlines flights!
You have 9 months from the date of issue to book flights using the US Airways Companion Certificate. And travel must be completed within 12 months of the date of issue.
Tickets must be booked over the phone by calling 800-428-4322 and giving the agent the reference code on the certificate. Your ticket must cost at least $250 before taxes, and your companion’s ticket(s) cost $99 each, plus the taxes and fees on a full-fare ticket.
There are lots of restrictions and blackout dates for travel. And all flights must be on US Airways or US Airways Express aircraft.
If we can get around the restrictions, Emily and I hope to use the Companion Certificate later this year. Have you had success using the Companion Certificate?
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