How To Earn And Use The Alaska Airlines Companion Fare
One of the great perks of the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card is the so-called “Famous Companion Fare.” Each cardholder year, members get a unique discount code letting them book an Alaska flight and add a companion for just $99 plus taxes starting, which start at $22.
Alaska Airlines makes it quite easy to use this perk too. The unique code is deposited into your Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan account. That means you don’t have to worry about finding an email or physical coupon when you want to use it—and there are few restrictions on how you can use the discount code.
If you can use this perk each year, you can easily justify the $75 annual fee on the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card. Let’s show you how to earn and use the Alaska Airlines Companion Fare.
How To Earn the Alaska Companion Fare
The only way to earn Alaska’s “Famous Companion Fare” is to hold select Alaska Mileage Plan credit cards. Currently, there are two cards that offer the Companion Fare: Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card and Alaska Airlines Visa® Business Credit Card*.
Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card
New Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card cardholders will earn an Alaska Companion Fare as part of the welcome bonus. Then, cardholders will earn another Companion Fare each card anniversary.
Alaska notes that your first Companion Fare code will be deposited in your account 6 to 8 weeks after qualifying for the welcome offer. However, it’s likely to be much faster than that in practice. When I signed up for a new Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card in fall 2020, my Companion Fare was deposited just days after I met the spending requirements.
To earn the cardholder anniversary Companion Fare, your account will need to be open and with active charging privileges on your account anniversary—which can be 6 to 8 weeks after you originally opened your card. Per the terms, the Companion Fare discount code should be deposited in your account within two billing cycles after your account anniversary. Although, in practice, I’ve found that the code usually deposits within a few days of your card anniversary.
Alaska Airlines Visa® Business Credit Card*
If you have a small business, you can sign up for the Alaska Airlines Visa® Business Credit Card*. As with the personal card, you’ll earn a Companion Fare as part of the sign-up bonus and then each subsequent year.
The first Companion Fare will be added to your account 6 to 8 weeks after you meet the spending requirements. Then, you’ll get another Companion Fare each year on your account anniversary.
Canada-issued Alaska Airlines Cards
The Alaska Companion Fare isn’t just for Americans. Canadians can also get a Companion Fare on both of Alaska’s Canadian credit cards:
- Alaska Airlines World Elite® Mastercard®
- Alaska Airlines Platinum Plus® Mastercard®
As with the U.S. cards, you’ll get the first Companion Fare after meeting the initial spending requirements and then each year after that.
Rules for Booking Alaska’s Companion Fare
For such a valuable perk, you might expect a bunch of restrictions. However, Alaska only places a few restrictions on using the Companion Fare.
Perhaps the most critical is that you need to book both passengers at the same time. This sets the Alaska Companion Fare apart from the Southwest Companion Pass, which lets you add your companion after booking the original passenger’s flight.
The Companion Fare is only valid for economy bookings, so you won’t be able to get buy-one-get-one-almost-free on first class fares. And, speaking of fares, you must book a published airfare. That means you can’t book any crazy routings or flights between airports where Alaska doesn’t sell flights.
Finally, the Companion Fare can’t be combined with other discounts and isn’t valid for award bookings. That means you can’t book any of the incredible Mileage Plan sweet spots and add a companion fare using a certificate.
What is allowed when booking Alaska Companion Fare?
Alaska lets travelers use the Companion Fare for other travelers. For example, I’m using this year’s Companion Fare to book two friends on the same trip that I booked with last year’s certificate. When using the Companion Fare for others, the only limitation is that the holder’s credit card must be used to book the reservation, which is likely a step to prevent fraud.
Although you can’t use miles or discount codes to reduce the cost of a Companion Fare booking, Alaska lets passengers apply any valid Alaska travel funds to the booking. So if you had to ditch a trip due to the pandemic, you can use flight credits to reduce the cost of your Companion Fare booking.
And good news for mileage collectors—both travelers will earn miles and elite credits from the flight. Elite travelers are even eligible for upgrades to first class. However, both travelers must travel together in the same cabin,so there needs to be upgrade space for both travelers.
How long is the Alaska Companion Fare valid?
The Alaska Companion Fare expires at 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time on the stated expiration date, which is set based on when you earned the Companion Fare
Don’t worry if you can’t travel by that date. As long as your booking has been ticketed before the expiration date, you have up to 12 months to complete travel.
How To Book the Alaska Companion Fare
To get started, log into your Alaska Mileage Plan account. Under “Account,” click the dropdown box and select the “discount/companion fare codes” link.
Click the “shop” button on the discount code you want to use. This will launch a search using that unique discount code.
Alaska will automatically default to two adults, and you’ll get an error if you change the search to more or less than two travelers. The search also defaults to a round-trip, but you can book a one-way or multi-city trip instead. Enter your origin, destination and dates. Then click “find flights” to launch a search.
The flight results will look a bit different to those that are used to the Alaska flight search engine. You’ll see two prices for each flight. The top price is the cost (including taxes and fees) for the original passenger. The price for the companion is shown below that. The flexible-date search bar above the flight results helpfully shows the total price for both passengers.
As you can see in the screenshot above, you can book either Saver or Main cabin fares. The Companion Fare is the same ($99 plus taxes) for either option.
You can’t mix and match Saver and Main fares between the outbound and return flights. Instead, you’ll need to choose Saver or Main for both directions of a round-trip. Also, since first-class fares can’t be booked with a Companion Fare, Alaska shows these fares as “N/A”.
Once you’ve selected your flights, click “add to cart” to proceed to checkout. Here you’ll see the fares for both the primary passenger and the $99 companion fare. In this example, you’re saving over $150 thanks to the Companion Fare discount.
Once you confirm the flight details, click the “next” button at the bottom of the page. On the next screen, enter the personal information for both travelers and click “continue” to move to seat selection. With your seat selected, the next step is to enter payment to complete the purchase.
How To Maximize the Alaska Companion Fare
Now, let’s get into the fun part: maximizing the Companion Fare. As you can see, booking the Alaska Companion Fare is fairly straightforward and can all be done online. As long as you can price out an itinerary on Alaska’s website, you can book it with the Companion Fare.
Book a Multi-leg Trip
One of the fun ways to maximize the Alaska Companion Fare is by booking two trips in just one ticket. For example, if you’re based on the East Coast, you can book a trip to visit both the West Coast and Hawaii in the same trip.
Another option—you can depart from New York City and visit both Seattle and Hawaii for a few nights each before returning to NYC. This trip currently costs $482 round-trip in Saver or $652 round-trip in Main Cabin.
After adding the $99 Companion Fare plus taxes and fees, you could pay just $620 round-trip for two passengers in Saver class or $790 round-trip for two in Main Cabin.
Book the Alaska Milk Run
This year I used the Alaska Companion Fare to book Alaska Airlines’ famous “Milk Run”. Each day, Alaska operates flights 61-67,each of which makes multiple stops in small towns in southern Alaska on the way between Seattle and Anchorage. As these flights carry vital supplies to these towns, these flights have earned the “Milk Run” nickname.
And yes, you can use the Alaska Companion Fare to book these flights. Just make sure to use the Multi-City search tool to force your way onto one of the Milk Run flights.
Unless you live in Seattle or Anchorage, make sure to book your positioning flights as part of the same booking. The $99 Companion Fare will be the same no matter how many flights you add. You’ll effectively get buy-one-get-one-free on your positioning flights as well.
The Alaska Companion Fare is a rewarding perk of Alaska co-branded credit cards. If you can use it each year, this perk alone can help justify the reasonable annual fee on these Alaska credit cards. The other perks of these cards—from free checked bags to discounts on in-flight purchases and lounge passes—are just a bonus on top.
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