How much better is British Airways business-class availability using a new Companion Voucher?
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1 September 2021 brought huge changes to the British Airways branded American Express cards and their valuable Companion Vouchers.
The changes were especially interesting for the British Airways American Express Premium Plus Card. While the annual fee rose slightly from £195 to £250 per year, BA promised significantly more Club World and Club Suite business-class availability by opening up an entirely new fare class for redemptions using this voucher.
This availability should only be accessible for vouchers earned from 1 September onwards; vouchers earned before this date keep the same conditions as before the changes.
This week I earned my new companion voucher from the Premium Plus card, and I also have an older companion voucher from before the pandemic. I can run searches using either my new or my old voucher and, in theory, they should return different availability in business class.
Let’s try some searches to popular companion voucher destinations to check.
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Dubai for New Year’s Eve is always a popular option as the warm weather, school holidays and big parties held in Dubai bring plenty of Brits looking for a countdown to remember. When I searched using my old companion voucher there is no business-class availability on the date I chose.
When I then search again on the same date using my new companion voucher earned after 1 September 2021, I immediately get the following message, which is great news:
Sure enough, the popular BA105 flight is available in business class using my new voucher.
While trips to New York City are easy redemptions for your companion voucher due to the abundance of daily flights, trying to use your voucher for the West Coast of the United States is usually much harder. On my date in April, no flight has business-class availability using my old companion voucher.
When I search again using my new voucher, one of the daily flights becomes available.
The Lion City has been off-limits to British travellers throughout the pandemic, though a recent successful trial for vaccinated German visitors leads to hope that vaccinated British travellers could be allowed entry soon.
When I search without a voucher for a Saturday in April next year, no business-class availability appears.
When I use my new companion voucher, however, both daily flights become available in business class.
One of the most aspirational travel destinations in the world is also one of the hardest to use your companion voucher on. Unfortunately, on several dates I searched for, there was no business-class availability on any flights, whether using the new or old companion voucher.
Considering how many passengers on this route would actually pay cash for business class-tickets (such as honeymooners), this isn’t hugely surprising.
Another popular option for the winter holidays is Cape Town (CPT) in South Africa. Travellers will find warm weather, beautiful beaches and affordable restaurants and bars. When I search using my old voucher neither of the daily flights is available in business class.
When I search with my new voucher instead, both flights are now available.
Traditionally, one of the hardest routes to use your companion voucher on is London (LHR) to Sydney (SYD) via Singapore. This is because it is BA’s longest route and therefore the best so-called bang for your buck when redeeming a companion voucher.
Business-class seats on this route get snapped up the day they are released, 355 days in advance. Sure enough, searching using my old voucher for the very furthest date available, nothing can be booked.
Unfortunately searching the same date with the new voucher, the availability still shows now business class. I did think it would be too good to be true if Sydney (SYD) became available all of a sudden with a companion voucher.
Though I only checked a handful of popular routes on a handful of dates, I’m impressed that there is a genuine improvement in business-class availability using the new companion voucher compared with the old vouchers issued prior to 1 September.
While not every date will be available on especially popular routes, it is now much easier to use your British Airways Companion Voucher from your Premium Plus card.
Featured image by Christopher Loh/Getty Images
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