Moving beyond the classic frequent-flyer perks of upgrades, priority boarding, and bonus miles, airlines and credit cards are now wooing customers with another incentive: the companion pass. At specific mileage thresholds on select airlines or spending thresholds on choice credit cards, travelers are privileged to invite a “plus one” for free or at a deep discount when flying on the same itinerary. Below are some of the travel industry’s top companion pass programs, plus a few tips on how to land these awesome twosomes.


Frequent-flyer bonus

Southwest Airline’s Companion Pass Program is the industry’s most rewarding option for flying as a duo. After banking 110,000 eligible Rapid Rewards points (Southwest’s frequent-flyer miles) or completing 100 qualifying onAirlie-way flight segments, you’ll receive a free annual companion pass, entitling your designated “plus one” to fly by your side for free for at least one year, with no limits on the number of free flights. Don’t fly every week? Score your 110,000 Rapid Rewards points by signing up for both a personal and business Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Card by Chase during promotional periods, when each carries a 50,000-point bonus. Then, spend $10,000 and you’ll enjoy a year or more of free flights.

Sign-up bonuses

Numerous airline credit cards are currently offering single, discounted, or complimentary companion passes in their ever-growing rosters of sign-up benefits. Several of the new Citibank AAdvantage MasterCards arrive with a Free Companion Certificate valid on a round-trip coach fare on American Airlines above $299. The sign-up perks of the Virgin America Visa Card issued by Barclays Bank Delaware include a discount code for $150 off a companion ticket each year. New cardholders of the Delta Reserve Card and the Delta Platinum American Express are entitled to a complimentary companion ticket on any Delta flight in the continental United States in first or economy, respectively.

Spending thresholds

Select credit cards grant cardholders valuable international companion tickets as a thank you for reaching specified spending thresholds. For example, once holders of the Chase British Airways Visa spend $30,000 in a calendar year, they receive a “Travel Together” certificate to fly a companion for free on any British Airways international flight.

Member benefits

As a standard benefit to their customers, American Express gives Platinum cardholders a free companion ticket for each refundable international business-class or first-class ticket purchased through AmEx’s Platinum Travel Service. Unfortunately, most of the refundable fares offered through the Travel Service are top dollar, deeming this BOGO nearly void. That said, it’s still worth checking the price of two nonrefundable international first-class tickets on the Web versus the American Express BOGO.

Image Credits: Christian Lindemann.