A lot of credit cards offer a companion certificates or companion pass opportunities. Some of these are issued on an annual basis automatically but others require you to earn them with a bit of spend.
The Barclays Aviator companion certificate is one of those that you have to earn with your hard-earned spend. In this article, I will tell you everything you need to know about this companion certificate, including whether or not it is worth it.
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What is the Barclays Aviator companion certificate?
The Barclays Aviator companion certificate is a special perk you can earn by putting enough spend on a Barclays aviator credit card. The certificates come in different forms depending on the type of card that you have:
|Card Name||# of certificates||Price||Spend Requirement|
|AAdvantage Aviator Silver||2||$99||$20,000|
|AAdvantage Aviator Business||1||$99||$30,000|
|AAdvantage Aviator Red||1||$99||$20,000|
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Is the Aviator companion certificate worth it?
$20,000 is a lot and spend for many people so you want to make sure that you are putting your spend to good use for this perk.
Since this is a companion certificate, you obviously net more value by purchasing a more expensive fare.
A good way to analyze your value proposition is to consider the $99 fee plus the taxes and fees which may average around $130.
So to break even you basically want to purchase a ticket that is more expensive than $130 which should not be very difficult to do since you can use this for roundtrips.
For many card members, it’s not very difficult to get a couple of hundred dollars in value from this perk by purchasing a ticket between $300 and $500. For many domestic roundtrips in economy, that is probably a nice sweet spot to shoot for.
Note: the terms do exclude the most expensive economy fare classes.
Remember that the annual fee for the Aviator Red is $99 so if you were trying to offset that annual fee, you would need to purchase a ticket for at least ~$230. Again, that is not a very challenging task which is why this benefit allows these cards to be “keeper cards” for people who fly American Airlines.
Aviator companion certificate rules
The $20,000 (or $30,000) in spend needs to be met during your account anniversary year (not calendar year) and the terms state that your account must remain open for at least 45 days after the anniversary date. As long as you meet those two requirements, you will be good to go.
Receiving the companion certificate
The terms also state to allow 8 to 10 weeks for the delivery of the certificate. This is on top of the 45 days you will be waiting after your anniversary date, so it could take a little while for your certificate to arrive after your anniversary date.
Don’t be surprised if it takes about two months from your account anniversary date for the perk to appear.
Your companion certificate should arrive in an email and the snail mail and it will provide you with directions on how to book.
Domestic routes in economy class
The companion certificate must be used on domestic routes only. Also, it is only valid for economy class fares. So if you want to experience American Airlines first class, this certificate won’t help you out there.
If you happen to be a resident of Alaska or Hawaii, the eligible travel is defined as a round-trip originating in either Alaska or Hawaii and continuing to the lower 48.
$99 minimum payment
When you use the companion certificate, you will have to pay $99 for the companion ticket plus any taxes and fees. Typically, these fees will range between $21 and $43 so be prepared to shell out a bit more cash for the ticket.
This is very similar to the Alaska Airlines companion certificate which also requires a similar payment.
Eligible routes and airlines
Eligible travel is defined as travel within the lower 48 (contiguous United States) but see the Hawaii and Alaska exception above.
The flights will need to be marketed and operated by American Airlines or marked it by American Airlines and operated by one of the following:
- Compass Airlines
- Envoy Air
- Republic Airline
- SkyWest Airlines
- Mesa Airlines
- PSA Airlines
- Piedmont Airlines, Inc.
Note: the certificate is not available for travel on codeshare flights booked with an American Airlines flight number but operated by another airline.
One drawback to this perk is that you may have to contend with black out dates when booking. You can check out the prior blackout dates below that were found (among other helpful details) via middleagemiles.
- 2019: Jan 1-3; Feb 15-19; Mar 8-11; Mar 15-18; Mar 22-25; May 24-28; Jun 28-30; Jul 1-7; Nov 27-30; Dec 1-2; Dec 14-23; Dec 27-31
- 2020: Jan 1-3; Feb 14-18; Mar 6-9; Mar 13-16; Mar 20-23; May 22-26; Jun 30; Jul 1-6; Nov 25-30; Dec 12-23; Dec 27-31
Upgrades are not allowed per the terms of the certificate. However, some have had success getting upgraded with elite status. This may not be the norm but you can certainly give it a try with the gate agent and you might have some luck.
14 days in advance
You will have to book your flights using your companion certificate at least 14 days prior to your departure.
You will also have to mail in forms which will need to be received seven days before your departure so slackers be warned, this is not a perk that you want to wait until the last minute to use.
The companion certificate will be valid one year from the issue date. This means that you must make your booking and complete your travel by the expiration date. Once your companion certificate arrives, you should be able to view the travel expiration date.
One of the biggest drawbacks to this perk is that if you use the certificate and then cancel your flight, you will not be able to get your certificate replaced. So you need to be extremely careful when making a reservation.
How to book the companion certificate
When you receive your email, you will see the American Airlines meeting services phone number which is 800–433–1790.
You will need to have all of your reservation details on hand when you call this number including your flight details, AAdvantage number, and your companion certificate number.
As soon as you make a reservation, you need to mail in your companion certificate within the required time frame. American Airlines will need to receive this signed certificate within 14 days of your phone booking. If you fail to mail it in, your flight will not be ticketed.
(The agent on the phone should provide you with the address to send the certificate to.)
After you send off your certificate, be on the lookout in your email inbox for your eTicket.
Yes, you must pay for your tickets with the credit card that you earned the companion certificate with.
The terms state that you will not earn miles or elite credits on the flight but in practice some people have earned both redeemable miles and elite qualifying miles.
The terms and conditions state upgrades are prohibited but in practice some people have had success with obtaining upgrades. Your mileage may vary in this area.
The companion certificate will expire one year from issuance and the date of issuance will often be around two months from your anniversary date.
No, basic economy fares are excluded.
This perk is a great way to offset the annual fee and to come out on top in terms of value. If you can book tickets of $200 or more, you can completely offset the annual fee and make up for the fees associated with this perk.
The major drawback to this perk is that it does require you to jump through some hoops for the booking and is a bit old-fashioned with forcing you to mail in a physical signed certificate.
But if you can deal with a little bit of legwork, this can be an awesome benefit to use every year.
Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned travel expert covering destinations along with TSA, airline, and hotel policies. Since 2014, his content has been featured in publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, and CNBC. Read my bio.