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For years, one of the benefits of The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN has been access to the “International Airline Program,” which got you 2-for-1 first & business class tickets.
This is a benefit a lot of people got excited about, but then ended up being disappointed over. That’s because the 2-for-1 deal only applied when booking a full fare first or business class ticket, which was almost always more than twice the cost of two discounted tickets.
In other words, being able to buy a business class class ticket between the US and Europe for $10K, and then getting the second ticket for “free” wasn’t much of a deal. I suppose there was value in this for the very small subset of the population that could buy full fare tickets for work directly, and be reimbursed for them, but most people in such a situation have to book through some sort of a travel department, which would prevent taking advantage of this.
Well, as of June 1, 2017, American Express has revamped the International Airline Program. It no longer offers a 2-for-1 deal, but instead gets you discounts on first class, business class, and premium economy tickets.
The program is now valid for travel on the following airlines:
The basic terms of the new program are as follows:
- Valid for first class, business class, and premium economy tickets booked through Amex Travel, including both refundable and non-refundable tickets
- Valid for the purchase of 1-8 tickets
- A $39 service fee applies, which is waived for Centurion Card members
- Only valid for travel originating in the US and “select Canadian gateways”
- You can use the “Amex Pay With Points” benefit to book tickets through this program
- To get quotes using this deal, you need to call 1-800-525-3355 if you have the Amex Personal Platinum Card, or 1-800-553-9497 if you have the Amex Business Platinum Card
Previously the program had zero value to me, given that it was only valid on full fare tickets. So I was curious to see how the new program compared. I phoned up Amex Travel and priced out a couple of itineraries — I’m really impressed.
I picked two reasonably priced, discounted tickets as examples (there are much better fares to be had, but I just wanted to have something off of which I could test this out).
For example, I found Delta business class tickets from New York to Dublin for $2,091 roundtrip. Amex Travel could book these for $1,880 through the International Airline Program. Those aren’t huge savings, but I’ll certainly take the discount off what’s already a good fare.
I’ve been wanting to try Air France first class again, and found a roundtrip ticket from Los Angeles to Barcelona for $6,097. That’s a lot of money, but for Air France first class it’s a solid deal, in my opinion. Amex Travel could book this ticket for $5,347 through the International Airline Program. Wow, that’s $750 off!
This new International Airline Program from Amex is a real improvement. Being able to score a discount on an already discounted first or business class ticket is awesome, especially since you can use this in conjunction with the “Pay With Points” feature. It sure seems like this will work on just about any discounted premium cabin ticket, so you can bet I’ll use this the next time I see a fare sale I want to take advantage of.
Presumably Amex has access to discounted fares and/or gets a commission on most of these bookings, and is just passing most of that on to customers.
The next time you’re booking a premium cabin ticket on one of the above airlines, be sure you give the new program a try. If you do, please report back with your findings!
(Tip of the hat to View from the Wing)