Everything you need to know about maximizing the Alaska Airlines Companion Fare
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Perhaps the only thing better than scoring a deal on your own vacation is finding a way to bring someone else along for less than half the cost of your own ticket. That’s why I want to highlight the long-overlooked, shockingly-simple-to-use Alaska Airlines Companion Fare. It’s saved me hundreds of dollars year after year and totally makes the $75 annual fee on the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card or Alaska Airlines Visa® Business credit card well worth the cost. It’s also a big reason we have the consumer version listed on our best airline credit cards guide.
If you ever travel with Alaska Airlines, this deal is for you. With the Alaska Airlines Companion Fare, you can save big on an Alaska Airlines airfare purchase for you and a friend, partner or anyone else you might want to bring along. On longer and/or more expensive itineraries you can mean hundreds of dollars of savings.
Guide to using the Alaska Airlines Companion Fare: Get $900+ in value
The Alaska Airlines Companion Fare that you can earn with the personal Alaska Airlines credit card and the Alaska Airlines business credit card is a code you can use to bring a companion along on an Alaska Airlines flight for as little as $121 ($99 fare, plus taxes and fees from $22). You can use it on any Alaska Airlines round-trip coach flight, but there are a few booking restrictions (more on that in a bit).
That’s a killer deal – and one of the best parts is that you’ll still earn Alaska Airlines miles on the flight. Alaska Airlines miles are awarded based on the distance you fly, so there is potential to get outsized value if you can find a cheap longer-distance flight. Some of the best ways to redeem Alaska miles include flights to Asia or Australia on partner airlines like Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines and Qantas. When you use Alaska Airlines miles to book award flights you also can add in a stopover for free, even on one-way tickets.
The only way to earn a Companion Fare is with the Alaska Airlines Visa credit card or Alaska Airlines Visa Business credit card. Both currently come with a sign-up bonus of 40,000 Alaska Airlines miles plus the Companion Fare after you spend $2,000 or more on purchases in the first 90 days of opening your account. And right now the personal card also comes with a $100 statement credit after you meet the minimum spending requirements.
I’ve had both of these cards in the past and consider them to be long-term keepers because of the annual companion code. After signing up for one of these cards and paying the annual fee, the Companion Fare will post in your account automatically. As soon as the promotional code appears in your account, you’re ready to book.
Things to remember about the Alaska Airlines Companion Fare
As mentioned before, the Companion Fare is actually a unique promotional code that you apply when searching for fares on the Alaska Airlines website. There’s no physical certificate (thank goodness, since I always lose those) and the code will be automatically stored in your Alaska Airlines loyalty account. To see if you already have an available Companion Fare, navigate to “Discount and Companion Fare Codes” in your account.
Here are some rules and restrictions you should know about the Alaska Airlines Companion Fare:
- Can only be used for coach travel on Alaska Airlines operated flights
- Both tickets must be booked into the same fare class, at the same time
- Companion Fare codes expire one year after they are issued and must be booked by the expiration date (though travel can occur any time in the future)
Those are the rules, but here are some of the benefits which make the companion fare particularly exciting:
- Although travel must be booked in coach, you can use Gold guest upgrades to upgrade your flights to first class. If you have Alaska Airlines elite status, both passengers are upgrade eligible.
- Both passengers earn miles (both redeemable miles and elite qualifying miles) for the flights.
- There are no blackout dates. So those peak travel times (like the day before Thanksgiving, or the week after Christmas) are Companion Fare eligible.
For a full rundown of the rules and restrictions, check out the Alaska Airlines FAQ page.
Best uses of the Alaska Airlines Companion Fare
There are good ways to use the Companion Fare – and then some killer ways. Generally speaking, cross-country flights and trips around peak travel dates are the most strategic for saving on your second passenger’s airfare. You can also use the companion ticket for open-jaw tickets, or tickets with stopovers, to extend your adventures.
For example, you could fly from New York to Seattle and stop for a weekend, on to Los Angeles for a week, then return to Washington and use a Companion Fare to bring a friend along. As long as the general travel direction is consistent, you can make multiple stops to get tons of value from your companion fare.
Last summer, my wife and I traveled from Washington to Maui for a family reunion during peak vacation season. That round-trip fare (routing through Portland) was in the range of $1,000 per person in coach. Ouch! Prices were similar regardless of airline, and saver-level award flights were impossible to find. So I turned to Alaska Airlines, armed with my newly earned Companion Fare.
Fortunately, the itinerary we wanted was available for two passengers in the same booking class. I had a Companion Fare, easily applied it, selected the flights and made out like a bandit paying ~$1,100 for two round-trip flights instead of $2,000+.
You can even do better than that, although the Companion Fare’s terms specifically exclude multiple stopovers, I was able to easily find an itinerary with two stopovers and an open-jaw. The flight below is for a three week vacation from Chicago to Kahului, with a 4-day visit in Portland on the way, returning from Honolulu with a three-day stopover in Seattle.
This same itinerary would have cost $850+ more without the discount code and it was super easy to find. I plugged in random days and had my choice of just about any flight time available on the first search.
Companion fare tips and tricks
If you can’t make use of an expiring Companion Fare, you can use the benefit for any other two people traveling on the same itinerary, but you must pay for the tickets using the fare owner’s Bank of America Alaska Airlines card.
You can use MVP Gold elite status guest upgrades or Alaska Airlines miles, to upgrade flights booked with the companion fare. When I booked last year’s Maui trip, I used four Gold guest upgrade certificates to upgrade our flights. Those four upgrade certificates in conjunction with the companion discount meant that we flew round-trip, 10-12 hours each way, in first class for about $500 per person.
We loved that trip so much that we’ll be returning, but now we will be flying nonstop from San Diego (our new home) to Maui with our 6-month old daughter in tow. Because infants under two years old fly for free on your lap, we’re getting three passengers for the price of one — another score
I could go on and on about how awesome the Alaska Airlines Companion Fare is if you use it strategically. With Alaska Airlines’ broad route network and flexible schedules, most folks can leverage this benefit.
Remember, you can only get it through the Alaska Airlines Visa credit card or Alaska Airlines Visa Business card. I’ve personally saved thousands of dollars planning travel using the Companion Fare. And we’ve been fortunate enough to upgrade long trips to first class, too.
Have you been able to use an Alaska Airlines Companion Fare code? How much money did you save?
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