The RBC British Airways companion ticket

British Airways speedmark in the 787-9 cabin - Photo Credit: Stuart Bailey / British Airways

If you have an RBC British Airways Visa Infinite card you know you get a lot of perks. One of those perks is the RBC British Airways companion ticket. Using it in an efficient fashion with all of the constraints can be challenging. In this post, I will share with you some options that make sense.

The RBC British Airways companion ticket is a great perk if you hold the RBC BA Visa card.  I wrote a review of the RBC British Airways Visa Infinite. It's one of Canada's best travel credit cards. It is very beneficial if the card holders are couples or  families who fly British Airways on a regular basis.

What's the RBC British Airways companion ticket?

RBC British Airways Visa card holders who reach an annual spend of $30,000 in a calendar year will receive a Companion ticket. It's also known as a Companion Award eVoucher. The companion ticket will post into the member's British Airways Executive Club account up to 8 weeks after meeting the spend requirement. The Companion Award eVoucher allows the member to book a companion airfare without having to pay for its required Avios miles.

As an example, the Companion Award eVoucher for a Calgary-Dubai return flight will save a member 58,500 Avios.  The same redemption without an eVoucher would've cost the member and their flying partner 117,000 Avios. They still need to pay the taxes and charges for both. For the same period, February 2018, the cash value of the airfare for both travelers costs $2,178.

Flight redemption using the Companion Award eVoucher Calgary to Dubai with British Airways
Flight redemption using the Companion Award eVoucher Calgary to Dubai with British Airways

This brings up the issue of high taxes and fees that handicaps Canadian travelers.

The RBC British Airways companion ticket 3 main constraints you need to know about

The Companion Award eVoucher has three major constraints that we have to address. We will look at them individually. You need to be aware of them as we look at the best ways to work with them.

Any redemption flight has to originate out of Canada 

Since the companion ticket is associated to a Canadian credit card, this rule is expected. Not only does the travel have to originate from Canada but it also has to end in Canada.  That means flights out of Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto or Montreal. However you can redeem a multi-destination (also called multi-city) itinerary by calling British Airways Executive Club at 1 800 452 1201. For example, you can book an outbound Vancouver to Istanbul flight with an inbound Madrid to Vancouver flight. Multi destination or stopover airfares are a great way to see more places without having to backtrack for the return leg.

It's applicable to flights operated by British Airways only 

The second constraint in my opinion is a real pain. It restricts the use of the companion ticket redemption to a booking with flights operated only by British Airways. That means that oneworld and interline partner flights are totally excluded. This not only reduces flight options but also will keep taxes and fees high. Which brings us to the last constraint.

Super high fees and charges on reward tickets

British Airways reward flights are reputed to have one the highest fees and charges in the business. It is a bummer for Canadians who want to cross the pond with a reward ticket.  But we know that crossing the pond with a reward ticket is very tough since most carrier impose very high charges. With the exception of a small minority such as Turkish Airways that will fly you to Istanbul for $73.45 or Swiss, you are better off buying the ticket. If you're able to get a 50% discount on the reward flights then it'll be as good as it gets with crossing the pond. It would be the same for Middle-Eastern destinations. Indeed, British Airways has very agressive pricing which makes Dubai, Istanbul, Abu Dhabi or Muscat at the same price as any Western European city.

Conclusion

The RBC British Airways companion ticket or eVoucher is one the many perks the credit card offers. Is it the best one? In my opinion no. Too many constraints handicap its use.  Also, it does not address the issue of trans-Atlantic flights high fees and charges for Canadian travelers. Other airlines do a better job in that respect. I personally will use it for flights to Middle-Eastern destinations in the future. 

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