Successfully Used US Airways $99 Companion Certificate

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I posted a few weeks ago that I was going to be in a travel situation where the US Airways MasterCard $99 companion certificates would likely be helpful, but I couldn’t find them.  I blame the dog, or the kid, or a gust of wind, or the monster in the house that eats every other sock and helmets off of all the Star Wars toys.  Thankfully, it seems that it is pretty easy to get a replacement certificate, so I posted that process here, and my new certificate has since shown up in the mail.

Today my travel plans finalized and we pulled the trigger on some non-stop flights on US Airways metal for later this summer.  I successfully used my $99 Companion Pass, so I want to share how that process went in case you are able to use yours in the future.

You get a certificate within a few weeks of opening your US Airways MasterCard and then you receive one annually when your account renews (or close to that time).  It is good for two companions to fly for $99 when you purchase a ticket for yourself.  Here are some of the key requirements for using the certificates:

  • Valid for round trip coach class travel within contiguous 48 states or the 48 states to Canada
  • Must be on US Airways operated flights (no partners like United)
  • 14 day advance purchase required
  • Minimum two night stay and maximum 30 day stay
  • Ticket purchased must be at least $250
  • Blackout dates apply – 2013 dates include: Jan 5, 6; Feb 15, 24; Mar 8, 10, 15, 17, 28, 29; April 1, 6; May 24; June 28, 29; July 6, 7, 28; Aug 4; Dec 1, 2, 20, 21, 28, 29, 30

Here was how the booking process went for me:

  • You cannot make the reservation online.  You have to call in to do so (the 1-800 number is helpfully printed on the certificate).
  • I was not charged a phone booking fee, nor was one even brought up.
  • Once you call in you can stick with the automated system for a while, but eventually you will need to talk to a real person (just hit 0).  It was still helpful that I gave the automated system some of my desired flight information as it cut down on the length of time I had to talk to the booking agent (who was very nice).
  • She immediately knew what to do when I told her I needed to book using the $99 companion certificate.
  • You absolutely need the physical certificate.  The first thing she asked for was the SHARES reference code printed on the certificate.
  • She entered our US Airways frequent flyer numbers and the certificate states that you can only use the certificate to accrue miles in that program, but we’ll see what happens…
  • When she asked for my credit card information to pay she did not specify it had to be a US Airways card, though the certificate does stipulate that.  I used mine, but it is possible another would have worked.
  • The $99 companion certificates came to about $117 each including taxes and fees.
  • My fare priced out exactly as it appeared online for the cheapest economy ticket.
  • I was told that the certificate has to be postmarked by the next day, and physically mailed to an address printed on the certificate.  Though it says ATTN: US Airways – TBM and it is supposed to say US Airways – TBC.  I was told my reservation would be cancelled if that was not done.

The process was painless and efficient.  There were no extra fees to book over the phone and the pricing they saw matched what I saw online.  The agent knew what she was doing, and all I have to do now is go drop the certificate in the mail.  My ticket for relatively peak summer travel cost a little bit more than I like at about $450, but it is very much off-set by getting the second two for just $99 each.  It turned what could have been $1,350 in airfare to about $700.  Still not cheap, but much more affordable for a family of three.

This is a real benefit that isn’t going to make sense for everyone every year, but it can be extremely useful in certain situations.  Have you ever been able to use your certificate?  Was the process the same as mine or different?

Comments

  1. Never. I have received 4 of these over the years and have never had the opportunity to use any of them.

  2. Use mine every single year since the card’s inception, including years I held several cards (and therefore certs) at once. Never a problem.

    The postmark rule is crap. Some claim tickets never get cancelled if they don’t mail in the cert but I always have within a week.

    The requirement for using the US credit card is supposedly enforced by the system. When booking an award online, to receive the 5000 mile discount the website will insist on use of the US Airways card – enter a different number and it will fail. This is why it is assumed the SHARES interface that phone agents use will similarly enforce this for companion certificates.

  3. smitty, I didn’t use mine last year, but it sure was handy this year. Maybe it will help you out at some point in the future!
    ArizonaGuy, good for you! Wouldn’t shock me if the system required the card use. Have you ever credited to UA or other *A when using the certs?
    Angelina, glad to hear it!

  4. So can it be used for a first class ticket?

    I’m looking at a route that has a RT F for $696 per ticket.

    Two Y tickets would cost me $796. So really for the same price as Y, we can fly F.

    • Mike, sorry for the confusion. It is for coach travel only. For a while the Alaska companion ticket was valid for F travel, but even that has now been restricted to Y.

  5. Used ours for YVR this winter that otherwise cost ~$750 (and the full price ticket was reimbursed by my partner’s work – score!). The $99 price came out higher w int’l taxes – about $188 each I think. Still worth it, especially for getting the full PQMs.

  6. i use it every summer to fly my family from chicago to wilmington, nc (except for the 1 year AA ran a nonstop) .. typically saves me anywhere from $300-$500

    the calling in and then mailing the certificate seems like a very dated process .. but the agents have always been friendly and i’ve never had any problems

  7. Have used them for travel to Chicago with my family. Sure does save money when my wife and I both have US airways cards and we get 4 at the $99.00.

  8. I typically fly from a USAir hub, so for me these certificates always work out well. I have used mine every year for the past 4-5 years, this year with a $560 transcontinental ticket. There are never any hassels. I think it’s a great perk to get with the USAir Mastercard and I’m wondering what will happen after the merger. I suspect it will go away, as most good things eventually do.

  9. Do you have to buy both your own ticket and the companion ticket at the same time?
    Or can you buy your own ticket on expedia and then buy the companion ticket by calling USairways?

  10. So, if the flight says something like “Operated by Mesa Airlines dba US Airways Express” it’s not eligible for the certificate, right?

  11. Glad to see you were able to use them. I’ve been trying to use mine for a while now, but it never seems to work out. USAirways always gives me prices that are much more expensive than other carriers, offsetting the money I’d save with the $99 companion pass.

    But thanks for the advice on how to do it, and again, congrats on being able to use it! I’ll keep trying.

  12. Had an absolutely perfect, seamless experience flying six people to Orlando for President’s week for less than $200 each. Booking agent actually helped me find the (slightly higher than lowest) fares that were just over the threshhold to help me maximize value. Kinda regretting cancelling the card now (trying to set myself up for another signup bonus … oh, well).

  13. I used mine for a trip we’re taking from Boston to Phoenix – was great – for the 3 of us, the RT cost was $700 – a huge savings.

  14. I have used my certificates every year for four (4) years now. The only “problem” I’ve ever had is maximizing the value by getting two (2) people to join me (usually on a trip from NC to CA’s Wine Country) and reduce the actual cost of my portion by dividing the total cost by three (3). So let’s say the full-fare ticket costs $600 and, with taxes, etc., each $99 fare ends up costing $150. Each person would end up paying $300 for a $600 ticket — a win-win situation.

  15. To confirm, the companion pass can be used for up to two other people when purchasing a ticket for yourself at >$250?

  16. I used mine last year, never mailed in the certificate. Had no problems, and even credited the miles to Aegean. Not mailing it in was an oversight, not intentional, but my tickets were not canceled. Received my new one for this year a week ago, can’t wait to figure out how I’m going to use it.

  17. I haven’t found these companion passes useful. I just have their card for the miles. I’ll churn the card in 3 months, and start collecting American miles for a bigger payoff. Does anyone have any idea how the US Airways miles will transfer after the merger?

  18. I successfully used 2 US Airways companion passes for a trip next month from Dallas to Arizona. It worked out nicely. The agent did require me to use the US Airways Mastercard to book the flights though. The first time I called I got all the way through the flight booking process but when it came time for payment time the agent told me I needed to use the US Airways card (of course it was at home and I was at work).

  19. I have used several of these and credited mileage to United no problem. I just put my mileage plus number in online after booking.

    These are great for bringing your friend/wife on a business trip with you when the primary ticket is paid by your company 🙂

  20. Thanks to everyone for sharing their experiences! I will put my UA number in and report back on how that goes. Hopefully it will be as seamless as it sounds like it has been for others. I would assume you could upgrade them as they are paid tickets that earn miles, but I haven’t tried that myself.
    My certificate was good through early 2014 I believe.

  21. One question, I have is, can you put your own US Airways number in online for the one or two companions and earn miles? Or does each separate flyer need a unique number? I don’t really want to apply for numbers for my young kids, since I have a hard enough time keeping up with my own miles expiration dates.

    • Mark, that probably won’t work. I have a number for my daughter so just plugged that in….though I will hopefully credit to UA as that is where she earns the bulk of her miles. Even if they are only flying once a year or so if you are crediting to one carrier it will be fine. Can’t credit them to you though.

  22. Ditto on being told by the agent that I needed to use my US Airways card. As the cardholder, I credited my miles to USAir, but my companion’s posted fine to United.

    The agent told me that if you’re not yet at the $250 mark, they will work with you to try to find a flight that qualifies. Might be worth the effort to call in even if you’re under the threshold…although its rare to find a flight that cheap anymore!

  23. Unfortunately, the companion tickets come in pairs, and can’t be used individually. If I pay for one fare, and my friend use a companion ticket, the remaining companion ticket goes to waste, unless we want a threesome.

  24. If the lowest fare is under $250, another option is to use Expertflyer or KVS Availability Tool to find a fare basis that is (hopefully) just over $250. Then quote the actual fare basis code to the res agent.

  25. I always credited my ticket to US. But my companions credit all over. Primarily it was my ex-wife in most previous years and I put her miles in UA. Yes, it says companion ticket isn’t supposed to earn, but she always did.

  26. Wanted to use a companion ticket for SFO to Costa Rica, but only then did I find out it was good only for lower 48 and Canada. Not such a good deal as I had hoped. Also, US Air only flies a VERY limited schedule to Costa Rica after September. Example: Saturdays only, beginning Nov 2, 2013

  27. I was able to book a coast-to-coast flight with two companions from our local airport. The “dba US Airways Express” affiliation doesn’t matter. As long as the airline (Piedmont or whatever) has a US Airways Express flight designation, it’s eligible for the companion certificate requirement of being on US Airways metal. (FWIW, open-jaw is not allowed — it has to be a straight round-trip.) We saved $400 per ticket with the companion certificate for a flight we had to take anyway. Cross-country round-trip from our local rural airport for under $270 per person. Sweet!

  28. Does anyone know if I have to be one of the people flying – or if I can use my $99 companion ticket to purchase a regular flight for my daughter and a companion ticket for her significant other?

  29. I got this card after getting sucked into a timeshare in Mexico and thought I could use this for my next trip back. Bummed it can’t be used for flights to Mexico or Hawaii. 🙁 Outside of the companion pass, can you use miles accumulated on CC for flights anywhere thru USair?

    Also, do you get this companion pass each year or just the first year of enrollment?

  30. Are flight miles automatically accumulated when you use this CC or do you have to keep track and notify them after each flight. New to miles program.

  31. I have had the card for 6 years and never able to use. I made the mistake of opening the account in late July. That made my certificates good from August 1st to July 31. My problem is I normally can only get away for travel in August. This year I need it to go to my son’s wedding in September and need the tickets for my granddaugters traveling with me. I couldn’t book with the certificate that expires 7/31 and the new certificate valid 8/1 only”went to the printers after 7/31″, I’m told. So I am entitled to a certificate valid back to 8/1 but they take there sweet time sending it out. My card was renewed in July and the $79 paid then. That is when they should have “sent it to the printers” so I would have it on the first. In July I was told I would have it, now they are saying I just need to wait another week or so. Now i need to book travel for a party of 6, 3 adults and 3 children ( 2 on a certificate ) and the prices go up daily. I need to keep us together so I can’t book the other flights either. Customer service is of NO help. Moral of the story, don’t sign up for this card during your travel period, pick a couple months you will never travel, allow for 2 months to get the certificate in hand, then it may work for you. Part of me wants to cancel the card and get my $79 back. They won’t even work with me to adjust my anniversary date so the certicate can be used in the future. 🙁

  32. Does anyone know if you can use miles to book the “main” ticket and then use the companion ticket? My miles will only cover the main fare.

  33. Someone had asked the question before, and I didn’t see it answered, but can the pass be used on US Air flights that are operated by another entity, like Air Wisconsin? Out of DCA almost all the flights are operated by non-US Air companies dba US Air.

  34. Just called to have my PNR changed to give me yet another day to mail the certificate back. (Want a tracking number; post office closed over the holiday weekend then I managed to forget with the hectic first day back to school.) No problem.

    BUT – the agent confirmed the certificates must be mailed to: US Airways – TBC. The agent I booked the flights with didn’t give me that information; these are brand new certificates that arrived last week but still have the old address. This agent said the old code would “probably” have gotten it to the right department.

  35. Can you buy a ticket for a family member instead of yourself and buy a companion ticket for their traveling mate? Or is the companion ticket only good for the card holder?

  36. I am planning on using the companion ticket for a flight where the rough trip is $300 but each leg is only $150. Can I use the companion or does each leg have to be $200?

  37. New bookings are charged $139.60 for the “free” companion ticket. Travel to San Diega SAN cost $550.60 per ticket March 2014. Looking at Kayak similar booking would have cost nearly the same on SW without the companion tickets…

  38. Successfully used my companion passes! I think I saved about $1200 by using them to fly hubby and teen to Montreal over Christmas to visit family. We had to tailor our travel around black-out dates but would never have considered paying the rack rate for the tix – about $720 each. Arrived in Montreal right after an 8″ snowfall so we got to see the city in fresh snow beauty. Visited a couple of the Luminotherapie installations and ate a steaming bowl of ramen before heading north to Mont Tremblant.

    http://www.quartierdesspectacles.com/en/luminotherapy/

  39. Does anyone know if you can use 3-4 companion passes at $99 by buying one full price ticket? My wife and I both have US Airways cards and we have two sets of companion tickets.

  40. Does anyone know if the companion ticket benefit is here to stay. I thought I had ready that US Air is doing away with that.

  41. I can see how the companion ticket will work for me. USAir did not offer companion tickets from our local airport and the nearest one is LAX (90 miles away). The quoted price form LAX with Companion ticket was about the same as cheaptickets from Santa Barbara. At the end of the day it would cost more to use US airs Companion ticket benefit.

  42. can’t get them to honor the online fair they want to charge me $200 more. also getting thru to them with a nightmare called 3 different times on hold four times greater than 30 minutes each time

  43. Used last night, worked very well. First, my opportunity to use it to fly from DFW to CLT came up as my card was expiring so I was in between the old certificate being expired & not having received the new one. Called Barclays, they were very understanding, maybe because we were flying to visit a very sick relative, the rep gave me everything I needed from my certificate to book. Called USAir they booked the flights at the online price. When she gave me mailing instructions for the certificate I explained I did not have it yet. She said no worries, simply put the flight confirmation #, Date departing, & travel cities on an index card & mail it. She was pretty firm in telling me to have it postmarked on Monday, day after I booked. Will write back if any issues but I am not expecting any & I was very pleased with Barclays & USAir.

  44. I’m considering this card, just curious: do you have to spend $250 plus for the ticket to qualify or can you use miles to purchase the ticket?

  45. I just had the worst experience with customer service for my USAirways Platinum visa card. I can’t find my information that was sent to me a while back for my companion ticket and called to ask them to resend it or e-mail it to me. Was on hold yesterday for 45 min one time and she couldn’t help me (basically had no idea what I was talking about) and gave me another # to call. Was on hold another 35 min and then transferred me to the wrong dept. Called again today and was on hold for another 45 min and finally someone told me they’d resend it by next week. Now I am waiting so I can book a flight. Anyone know if I can book a flight in April if I don’t get the voucher info until March? I saw Rick post that he was able to book a flight without having his voucher. How did you do that? Did you have the voucher #?

  46. Trying to find out if I can book a flight for my sister & myself using the companion ticket with different departure airports arriving in the same city.

  47. I just wanted to say THANK YOU for posting this. I couldn’t for the life of me, figure out how to use the companion fares. Just booked a trip for my daughters and myself – and am so thankful to YOU!

  48. Incredibly helpful!
    Useful information, well-written and well laid out.
    Thank you very much! This is just what I needed!
    *Fingers crossed that this year’s blackout dates are very similar!

  49. Can someone with a 2014 companion certificate please let me know the BLACKOUT DATES FOR 2014? I’ve been told I’ll receive my certificate in 2 weeks and I’m planning on using it the day I’ll receive it to book a trip thirty days our. If the dates I need are blacked out, it makes sense to book now. Traveling June 16-20. THANKS!!!

  50. I recently received the flyer in the mail, that with the merger, American will be canceling the companion passess in 2015. You will still be able to use your 2014 passes, whenever you get them. But that will be the last go-around. For me, this is the single greatest benefit of this credit card. Would anyone like to start a petition of some kind to the NEW American to request that they keep this benefit? Not sure how this could get going… but worth an ask.

  51. Should the $250 minimum purchase is counted for primary card holder ticket price or total price of the group tickets excluding the two companions’ tickets?
    e.g. I plan to book a round trip ticket which costs $200 per person. I can use CP for my spouse and 3 yr old kid.

  52. Anyone know what happens if you have to change or cancel the voucher flight (and main flight)? Does US Airways give you a “credit” to use later or are you out of luck?
    Thanks for any help.

  53. Thanks!

    your outline helped and I purchased two companion tickets yesterday. tip about TBC during mailing is important. even my certificate (received mid-2014) says TBM.

  54. Do you have to be the one flying?

    I booked two friends on an Alaska companion pass, and just had them pay me back. They might be interested in using this one as well. Is that a possibility?

    I’m thinking about flying my parents TO me.

  55. Has anyone had luck with the companion certificate in this scenario:

    Main Passenger and Companion depart on same date however the return dates are different?

    Thanks!

  56. Yep, same experience, even to the losing of the voucher.
    Of course, they are doing away with this feature after my credit card expiration date. And I did have to use the US Air card which was not a problem.

  57. I read that the USAiways Mastercard companion fares will go away once the card changes to American. You can use any existing companion fare vouchers now through Oct or Nov 2015. Can anyone confirm?

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