Late last week I asked y’all for advice about if/how I should use the British Airways companion certificate I have that expires in less than a month. I received the companion certificate for spending $30,000 in a calendar year on the Chase British Airways Visa card a couple of years ago.
The argument in favor of using the companion certificate is that I don’t want to “waste” it. The argument against the companion certificate is that it has to be used for travel on British Airways, which comes with hefty fuel surcharges, making a “reward” ticket feel a whole lot like a revenue ticket.
Well, I’m happy to report that I finally redeemed the companion certificate today, and for the first time in a while I put what I learned in my college economics class to good use. Admittedly I spent most of my economics class blogging, so let me make sure I got a proper grasp of the principles I utilized today:
- Sunk cost dilemma. I put a lot of spend on my British Airways credit card, and damnit, now I have to reap the benefits, even if it’s not a good value. Because otherwise stuff would sink, and that’s not good for anyone.
- Increasing returns. One companion certificate will take you roundtrip anywhere in the world. So go as far as you can and ignore how many Avios you pay and how much fuel surcharges are. The most important unit of measure is the one companion certificate you’re using.
- Opportunity cost. Other than flying British Airways, the next best use of my companion certificate is… nothing. Therefore I should redeem it.
In all honesty, I really struggled with redeeming the companion certificate. I knew I wanted to use it so I could review British Airways first class for the blog’s sake, as I’ve yet to fly with them in first class. Furthermore, I knew I wanted to fly somewhere warm, which is a top priority since moving to Seattle. As tempting as the Christmas Markets in Europe would have sounded while I lived in Florida, it’s not a place I’m dying to go during a dark Seattle winter.
After a lot of back and forth I originally decided on Istanbul. Roundtrip from Seattle the cost was cost 190,000 Avios (for both) and ~$1,000 per person. That being said Istanbul is far from warm this time of year, so then I decided on Cape Town. Sounded nice in theory, though a roundtrip would have been 330,000 Avios (for both) and ~$1,500 per person. Okay, United charges just 160,000 miles for roundtrip first class to South Africa without fuel surcharges and without a companion certificate, so that seems like a horrible value.
Then I looked at the Middle East. I took a trip to Dubai/Abu Dhabi last year using ANA miles for travel in Etihad first class, and I had a great time despite being sick. The weather in Dubai is downright beautiful this time of year, so it sounded tempting. The award would have cost me 270,000 Avios (for both) and ~$1,500 per person.
In the end that’s what I decided on. It would get me four segments in British Airways first class, plenty of time in the Concorde Room, and travel to a warm destination that I find interesting.
Except I changed my mind about 15 minutes after booking (and fortunately I’m a British Airways Gold member, which means there are no change fees).
So after rethinking it I decided to keep the outbound, which as far as I’m concerned gives me a good “taste” of British Airways. I have a long layover in London with Concorde Room access and two segments in longhaul first class, which should give me a very high chance of getting British Airways’ new first class on at least one of the segments. Then I decided to book an alternative return, which saves me 135,000 Avios and $750 per person in fuel surcharges.
So in the end I guess we’re paying 135,000 Avios and $1,500 for two passengers to travel first class from Seattle to Dubai. Is that a great deal? No, but it does let me finally experience British Airways first class and the London Concorde Room, gets me to a warm destination, and makes me feel like I didn’t totally waste the companion certificate.
Anyway, I’m really looking forward to returning to the UAE. We’ll do a couple of days in Dubai, then head to the desert for a bit, and then also spend a bit of time on Saadiyat Island. Both Park Hyatt and St. Regis opened resorts there in the past year or so (I actually toured the Park Hyatt right as it opened), and I think it’ll be a world class beach destination once fully developed. I’m looking forward to seeing it firsthand now that both resorts are open.
So, what do you guys think? Did I make the right decision on the companion certificate?