Alaska Airlines is a great airline, that’s about to become so much better with their pending acquisition of Virgin America. The credit card, however, is really only good for two reasons: the sign-up bonus and the annual Companion Pass. Here are 10 simple steps to redeem the Alaska Airlines Companion Pass.
First off, get the Bank of America Alaska Airlines Visa
If you don’t already have the Bank of America Alaska Airlines Visa credit card, now is the time to apply because that is the only way to get the Alaska Airlines Companion Pass. You’ll get a decent bonus for very little spend, whose value more than offsets the $79 annual fee. I can’t link directly to the card, but you can use my affiliate link to apply for the Alaska Airlines Visa card from Bank of America. If you do apply, please write to let me know of your results!
What is awesome is that the Companion Pass automatically gets deposited into your Alaska Airlines account each year that you renew your Alaska Airlines Visa. Unlike the benefits of many cards, this benefit is yours to use each and every year!
Booking a flight with the Alaska Airlines Companion Pass
I’m going to go through the process of booking a flight to Liberia, Costa Rica using my Alaska Airlines Companion Pass. Timmy is heading into school soon, so I’m going to take him on a little Father/Son vacation before school starts again.
Follow me through the 10 steps to book with the Alaska Airlines Companion Pass. Although I am booking a flight for Costa Rica, these are the same steps for any destination you might pick.
Step 1 – log into your Alaska account & choose “Discount Codes”
Log into your account manually, or use AwardWallet to automatically log into your account. In the upper right corner, click on your name and then click on “Discount Codes” to reveal the discount codes available to you.
Step 2 – choose your Discount Codes
Your discount codes will show up here. This section will also list when your discount code expires, so make sure you don’t miss out. Click on “Shop” to use your Alaska Airlines Companion Pass discount code. Be mindful that blackout dates may apply.
Step 3 – Pick your destination
With the Alaska Airlines Companion Pass, you can use it to fly anywhere that Alaska flies. However, you cannot choose to fly on partner airlines the way that you can when redeeming Alaska miles. For this example, I am booking a flight to Liberia, Costa Rica for August 2016.
Step 4 – Pick your flight
Notice that the $99 fee for the Companion Pass and the associated taxes are already baked into the prices.
If you didn’t have the Alaska Airlines Companion Pass, this is what the flight selection and prices would look like for each passenger (aka you will need to double these prices below to get the cost for 2 tickets).
Step 5 – Coach or First; Refundable or Not?
You can choose the lowest fare or choose one that is refundable. You used to be able to redeem the Companion Pass for First Class flights on Alaska Airlines. That was an amazing opportunity to fly First Class for an affordable price, but that option was discontinued.
Keep in mind that, even if the purchased ticket is refundable, if you cancel your reservation, you will lose the Companion Pass. However, you do have the option of changing your flight to another date, so keep that in mind if you need to cancel your original reservation.
Step 6 – Review the cost of your flight
When you review the cost of your flight, you will see that your companion is charged $99 for their ticket, but BOTH of you will have to pay the necessary taxes for the flight.
Step 7 – Enter your name and which program to credit your miles
When you enter in your information, remember that you don’t have to credit your flight to Alaska Airlines. You can credit to other partner carriers, like American.
Step 8 – Choose your seats on the plane
Just like a cash fare, you’ll have to pay extra for premium seats with extra leg room, so choose wisely.
Step 9 – Optional add-ons available for purchase
Airlines are always looking to get a few extra bucks out of you, so they offer high-profit margin items like trip cancellation and travel insurance. In almost every circumstance, you’re better off declining those options and buying something yourself on the secondary market, if you feel that you need it.
Step 10 – Pay for your tickets and confirmation
Here is where you pay for your tickets and receive confirmation of your flight.
Pro Tip: Although the Companion Pass was earned with the Bank of America Alaska Airlines Visa, there are no rules stating that you must pay for your ticket with the same card. Use a card that provides the best benefits or allows you to offset the price of your ticket.
If you were to pay cash for these two tickets, the price would have increased from $667 to $964. The Companion Pass saved $297, or $222 after paying the $75 annual fee.
If you wanted to book this reservation using Alaska miles instead, it would have cost 140,000 miles + $92, 40,000 miles + $568, or 20,000 miles + $764. Please note that all of these miles + cash prices are for two tickets.
THESE ARE HORRIBLE REDEMPTIONS. The 40k option only saves you $99… and 40k miles are worth WAY more than $99! The 20k option is even worse since it would cost 20k miles PLUS it would be $97 MORE expensive than using the Companion Pass.
Please save your miles for something more worthwhile… and possibly extravagant… like a roundtrip to Australia, which can be had for as little as 80,000 + $348 on FIJI Airways or 85,000 miles + $140 on Qantas.
Which card should you use to pay for the tickets?
The Alaska Airlines card provides 3x spend on Alaska Airlines, which is nice, but that isn’t necessarily the best option to pay for your ticket.
The Citi Prestige also provides 3x on travel spend. However, the Citi Prestige Thank You Points are more flexible and are valued much higher considering their transfer partners, the ability to redeem for cash, or when you redeem for airfare, they’re worth up to $1.33 per 100 points. Each calendar year, the Prestige card also provides you with $250 in airfare credits, which would offset a big portion of this ticket on Alaska.
Another great option is the Barclay Arrival because you get $400 in travel credits as a bonus when you apply. That would offset more than half of the discounted ticket price!
I cannot link directly to these cards, but I would appreciate it if you used my affiliate link to apply for these cards or any other card that works best for you. If you do apply, please write to let me know of your results!
Do I have to fly or can I buy the ticket for someone else?
I looked this question up on Alaska’s FAQ page and confirmed that the owner of the Alaska Airlines card DOES NOT need to be one of the fliers when redeeming the Companion Pass. However, if you are not flying, then you must be the purchaser of the ticket.
Do these tickets earn miles?
Per the Alaska Airlines FAQ, you cannot use miles to pay for the ticket you have to buy, but BOTH tickets will earn miles. That’s a pretty great benefit! And, just like a ticket that you paid cash for, you can credit your miles to Alaska Airlines or any of their partner airlines.
Rules and Restrictions
From the Alaska website:
- This fare is nonrefundable.
- Reservations require immediate purchase and may not be held. Fares and availability are subject to change without notice until purchased.
- Changes/cancellations: If travel hasn’t begun, you can make one change to this itinerary, or you can cancel and refund it to original form of payment within 24 hours of original purchase with no fee.
- Changes to this itinerary are subject to additional fare and taxes. A fee of $125 USD per person will also be assessed for changes and cancellations made on or after June 22, 2016. Change fees are waived for travel wholly within the state of Alaska on flights operated by Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air, and for all MVP® Gold members.
- The companion must travel with the primary passenger on all flight segments.
- This fare is only valid for travel on flights operated by Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air and on Pen Air between Anchorage and Dutch Harbor.
- Until this reservation is purchased, the discount code is subject to expiration and/or disqualification according to the terms of the discount code. View discount code terms
- Government regulations require specific travel documents for international travel.
- In addition to the taxes and fees in your ticket price, the following fees may, depending on the carrier, be collected per person at the airport in Costa Rica:
- Boarding tax $27.00
- Baggage inspection fee $2.00
The Bottom Line
If you’re looking to save some money on your next Alaska Airlines flight, then the Companion Pass is a great way to save some money, while still earning miles for the flight. The Companion Pass is much more flexible than most realize. And using the Companion Pass instead of miles is a good way to save your miles for more aspirational travel.