What are the benefits when traveling with an award ticket? And if it is offered?

Question asked by one of our readers following our previous post about airline stinginess on award tickets, “and if I travel with an award ticket, do I get the same perks as if it were a normal ticket?

A seemingly innocuous question that called for a simple answer, but that was before I got to the second part of the question “and if I offer an award ticket to someone, will they get the same benefits as if I were the one traveling?

To summarize, there are two issues here: the perks associated with an award ticket and the perks associated with a ticket offered to a third party.

Let’s start by re-specifying some basics.

The perks of a ticket depend on the class of travel and the status of the traveler.

There is an immutable rule in air transport: the perks that a passenger enjoys during his trip depend on two things.

The travel class : Economy, Business, Premium Economy and First class tickets include different perks such as lounge access, fast tracks and specific baggage allowances. There can also be differences within the same class depending on the booking class, for example airlines that sell tickets at a “business light” fare without lounge access.

Passenger status: if the passenger has a certain status in the frequent flyer program, he has benefits related to this status regardless of his travel class. These benefits are in addition to those of the travel class when possible. For example, a “double lounge access” does not make sense, but the baggage allowances are usually added together. A Flying Blue Gold or Platinum passenger traveling in Economy will enjoy basically the same benefits as a passenger traveling in Business…except during the flight of course.

So much for the general rules.

An award ticket is a ticket (almost) like any other in terms of perks

The above rules apply equally or almost equally to paid and award tickets.

It’s not really a perk in the first sense, but the award ticket is usually more flexible than a paid ticket: it can be changed and cancelled more easily, often with a fee, but with fewer limitations and restrictions than a paid ticket.

On the other hand, some benefits can sometimes disappear with an award ticket: for example, the Emirates chauffeur service is not offered to passengers with an award ticket.

Apart from these few differences, an award ticket functions like a paid ticket with regard to the advantages and services offered to the passenger.

If you have a business ticket, you have the perks of business, if you have an economy ticket, you have those of economy (or rather their absence).

As an Elite passenger, you have status-related benefits that will apply regardless of your travel class.

So there’s the second part of the question “and if I offer an award ticket, will the person inherit the benefits associated with my status?

Perks depend on the traveler, not the one who pays for the ticket

In fact, whether it is an award ticket or a paid biller does not change anything: the rules explained above apply.

What you have to keep in mind is that in order to know what a passenger will be entitled to, the passenger is taken into account, not the one who paid the ticket.

So if you offer an award ticket in Economy to a non-status passenger, he or she will get the standard Economy service.

If you offer him an award ticket in Economy and he is Elite he will have the benefits of his status. Which can sometimes be higher than the status of the “payer”.

But it’s exactly the same whether you pay for the ticket in miles or in euros.

Bottom line

The only thing to remember is that the benefits and services associated with a ticket depend on the class of travel and the passenger’s possible status in a loyalty program.

It does not matter if the ticket is donated by a third party or if it is an award ticket or a ticket.

Have a good trip!

Image : Emirates lounge in Dubai by Sorbis via Shutterstock

Bertrand Duperrin
Bertrand Duperrinhttp://www.duperrin.com
Compulsive traveler, present in the French #avgeek community since the late 2000s and passionate about (long) travel since his youth, Bertrand Duperrin co-founded Travel Guys with Olivier Delestre in March 2015.
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