There has been a recent change to the British Airways Companion Award eVoucher, which is earned as a benefit on the RBC British Airways Visa Infinite Card upon spending $30,000 (CAD) in a calendar year.
Previously, the voucher was only applicable to British Airways Executive Club redemptions made for at least two passengers; however, as found buried in the card’s terms and conditions, any vouchers earned as of July 4, 2023 may now also be used for individuals.
British Airways Companion Award eVoucher Now Applies to Solo Travellers
The British Airways Companion Award eVoucher is a benefit offered on the RBC British Airways Visa Infinite Card. As a reminder, cardholders earn a voucher after spending $30,000 (CAD) on the card in a calendar year.
Previously, the Companion Award eVoucher could only be used to cover the cost in Avios of a second passenger’s ticket.
For example, if it costs 160,000 Avios to fly round-trip in business class between Toronto and London for one passenger, the Companion Award eVoucher would keep the cost at 160,000 Avios for two passengers.
In total, you’d pay 160,000 Avios for two passengers with the eVoucher applied; however, you’d still need to pay the full amount of taxes, fees, and surcharges for both passengers, which is around $700 (CAD) per person.
Historically, you could only use the Companion Award eVoucher when travelling as a duo, which meant that you’d have to find award availability for two passengers on the same flight. Depending on the routing, this could be challenging, although it’s worth noting British Airways consistently releases multiple award seats on all flights.
However, as of July 4, 2023, any British Airways Companion Award eVouchers earned on the RBC British Airways Visa Infinite Card may also be used for individual travellers. If you choose to redeem the voucher this way, the cost in Avios is reduced by 50%, which could be worthwhile in some situations, as we’ll explore below.
In a sense, using an eVoucher this way is similar to using an Aeroplan Priority Reward, in that the total cost in points is reduced by 50%. However, British Airways Companion Award eVouchers can apply to any class of service, regardless of your level of elite status.
(Unfortunately, British Airways doesn’t currently offer its First Class cabin on any Canadian routes, so you won’t be able to use it for this).
It’s worth noting that Companion Award eVouchers have been applicable to solo travellers in the US and the UK already – this recent change is uniquely relevant to the Canadian market.
This update could benefit travellers who value direct flights and fly between London and Canada frequently on British Airways. However, given the hefty spending requirement to have one added to your account in the first place, it’s likely not worth going out of your way to acquire one.
Save 50% on British Airways Flight Redemptions
Let’s take a look at a few examples to illustrate the value that the eVoucher can offer.
(The prices shown in the below examples don’t have a Companion Award eVoucher applied, so just divide the number in half to calculate the cost with an eVoucher applied).
Since British Airways Executive Club uses distance-based pricing for redemptions, you’ll pay more in Avios as you travel greater distances.
For example, a flight between Vancouver and London in business class typically costs 90,000 Avios. However, if you were to apply the Companion Award eVoucher, it would cost you just 45,000 Avios for the same flight or 90,000 Avios round-trip, although you’d still be on the hook for the full amount of taxes and fees.
If you wish, you could also tack on flights to another destination within Europe or beyond. For example, connecting onwards from London to Warsaw would cost just 55,000 Avios in business class after applying the Companion Award eVoucher, since the regular cost is 110,000 Avios.
Perhaps a more interesting example is using the eVoucher on longer itineraries, such as flying from Vancouver to Johannesburg via London with British Airways.
While a one-way flight in business class would normally cost a whopping 180,000 Avios, by using an eVoucher, the cost is reduced to just 90,000 Avios, which isn’t bad for flying 10,000+ miles in business class.
On the other hand, flying from Vancouver to Johannesburg via London in economy will cost just 30,000 Avios with the voucher applied, which is 50% of the usual 60,000 Avios this route would cost.
Indeed, you’ll get more value out of the Companion Award eVoucher as you spend more Avios to begin with. Following that, the most interesting applications of the eVoucher generally lie in premium long-haul cabins.
How to Earn & Redeem British Airways Companion Award eVouchers
One British Airways Companion Award eVoucher per year is available to all primary cardholders of the RBC British Airways Visa Infinite Card. The voucher is deposited into your Executive Club account upon spending at least $30,000 (CAD) on the card during a calendar year.
It may take up to eight weeks for the voucher to appear your British Airways Executive Club account. Typically, you’ll receive an email notifying you of its arrival, and from then, you’ll have 24 months from the date of issuance to use it.
Keep in mind that while you’ll enjoy a 50% discount in the number of Avios required for a redemption, you still need to pay for all of the surcharges, which can be hefty when you fly on British Airways, even if you don’t depart from London.
For example, it’s not uncommon to see the total cost of around $900 (CAD) for round-trip flights from Canada to Europe in business class. You can also expect to pay around $600 (CAD) in taxes, fees, and surcharges on an economy booking, which won’t necessarily result in outsized value over paying cash for an economy ticket instead.
Even for a one-way flight, you’re looking at $450 (CAD) departing from Canada, and even more if you’re leaving from the United Kingdom, thanks to the Air Passenger Duty (APD).
It’s important to note that the primary cardholder must travel on the flight to which the eVoucher is applied. This means you may not use the voucher to secure a discount for someone else.
As before, Companion Award eVouchers earned in Canada can only be redeemed for flights that originate in Canada. This means that you wouldn’t be able to use one for flights that depart from the United States, for example.
Interestingly, on the British Airways website, it’s listed that Companion Award eVouchers may only be used for flights with British Airways. However, the terms and conditions for the voucher on the RBC British Airways Visa Infinite Card state that it may be used on a wider range of airlines:
The Companion Voucher may be used for flights operated by British Airways and its subsidiaries EuroFlyer and CityFlyer; Iberia and its subsidiary, Iberia Express and its franchise partner, Air Nostrum; Aer Lingus and its subsidiary, Aer Lingus U.K. and its franchise partner, Emerald Airlines.
In Canada, this would really only apply to Aer Lingus, since Iberia doesn’t currently operate flights to any Canadian cities. However, while you could wind up saving Avios, you’ll still get stung by taxes, fees, and surcharges on Aer Lingus flights, too.
If you have an eVoucher in your account, you should be able to select it from the menu on the main British Airways Executive Club search page. Once the search results load, the prices should reflect the 50% discount.
As of July 4, 2023, any British Airways Companion Award eVouchers earned on the RBC British Airways Visa Infinite Card may be used for solo travellers, as well as pairs. This change first debuted in the UK and the US versions of the eVoucher, and it’s now available in the Canadian market.
Given the high spending threshold required to earn the voucher, shifting $30,000 (CAD) worth of spend each year onto the RBC British Airways Visa Infinite Card each year just for this perk likely isn’t a worthwhile exercise for most travellers.
However, if you prioritize direct flights between Canada and London, or prefer flying with British Airways to its other destinations, this change is positive, and could be worth pursuing.