Wow! Virgin Atlantic’s Companion Voucher Can Now Be Used Alongside Cash Fares

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Virgin Atlantic took time out yesterday to announce some very positive changes to how its companion voucher will now work but amidst the excitement of all the good news we were being fed at the time, one very important change to how the Virgin Atlantic companion voucher now works doesn’t appear to have been given the publicity it deserves – the companion voucher can now be used in conjunction with a cash fare.

The Virgin Atlantic Companion Voucher

The Virgin Atlantic companion voucher is a benefit that, for most people, comes with the various credit cards that are issued in Virgin Atlantic’s name.

  • In the US, the Virgin Atlantic Mastercard issued by Bank of America will issue a voucher when a cardholder spends $25,000 on the card in a year.
  • In the UK, the Virgin Atlantic cards issue a voucher after £10,000 or £20,000 of spending in a year depending on the card in question.

This voucher can also be used to upgrade a flight or as a one-off pass to enter one of Virgin Atlantic’s Clubhouses but, for the purposes of this particular post, I’m only going to focus on using the voucher for a companion ticket.

What Changed?

Historically, there have been two key limiting elements to the Virgin Atlantic companion voucher:

  1. The cabin of travel the voucher can be used in was limited by a traveler’s Flying Club elite status (entry-level members couldn’t use the voucher for travel in any cabin other than Economy Class and mid-tier members couldn’t use in for travel in any class higher than Premium Economy).
  2. The companion voucher could only be used in conjunction with an award booking (i.e. two award seats had to be available for the voucher to be useable)

As of yesterday, the voucher’s restrictions based on elite status were mostly lifted and, just as importantly, the companion voucher can now also be used alongside any ticket in any booking class.

I have to confess that I failed to grasp the significance of the phrase “any ticket in any booking class” until I went back over Virgin’s announcement last night. That’s when it struck me that “any ticket” and “any booking class” covers every single type of ticket that Virgin Atlantic issues..and that brings tickets that have been purchased with cash into play.

Note: Just in case anyone thinks that I’m reading too much into Virgin’s wording, the airline has confirmed that its companion vouchers can be used on cash fares so this isn’t a mistake and this is genuinely what Virgin Atlantic intended.

Using The Companion Voucher With A Cash Fare

The first thing I should point out is that the Virgin Atlantic companion voucher hasn’t been freed from the shackles of award availability completely – while the primary ticket being purchased can now be a cash fare, there still has to be award availability for the secondary ticket (companion voucher ticket) to be booked.

The restrictions for using the companion voucher with a cash fare are the same as they are when the voucher is being used alongside an award booking:

  • The voucher can only be used alongside Economy Classic bookings, Premium Economy bookings, and Upper Class (Business Class) bookings (it’s not usable with Economy Lite or Economy Delight bookings).
  • Flyers with Flying Club Elite status (Silver & Gold members) can use cash to book a ticket in any class of travel and can then use the companion voucher to receive a 2nd ticket for just the cost of the taxes and surcharges on that second ticket.
  • Flying Club members with no elite status (Red members) can:
    • Use cash to book an Economy Class or Premium Economy fare and can then use the companion voucher to receive a 2nd ticket for just the cost of the taxes and surcharges on that second ticket. Or,
    • Use cash to book an Upper Class ticket and can then use the companion voucher to receive a 2nd ticket for 50% of the miles usually needed to book the ticket + the cost of the taxes and surcharges on that second ticket.

What this all means is that you no longer need to find award availability for two people when trying to use your companion voucher (just one award seat has to be available if the voucher is being used in conjunction with a cash fare) and you now need considerably fewer Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles in your account to make the most of the companion voucher.

None of this eliminates the fact that Virgin Atlantic adds excessive surcharges to its award bookings so the companion voucher remains far from being a “free ticket”, but that shouldn’t detract from the fact that the Virgin Atlantic companion pass is now easier to use than ever before.

Bottom Line

A flyer’s elite status is no longer as big a barrier to using the Virgin Atlantic companion pass economically as it once was, and the companion pass is no longer limited to being used alongside an award booking – it can be used alongside a cash fare too.