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- The Amex International Airline Program is a lesser-known benefit available to Platinum cardholders.
- The program offers discounts on flights in first class, business class, and premium economy.
- You’ll also earn 5x Amex Membership Rewards points when you book airfare through this program.
- Read Insider’s guide to the best American Express cards.
If you carry
The program offers both special points redemption rates and discounted fares when you book premium-cabin seats on specific airlines. The devil, of course, is in the details, so let’s dive in.
What is the Amex International Airline Program?
The Amex International Airline Program gets you access to lower airfare with more than 25 participating airlines when you book in first, business, or premium economy class.
Fares that qualify for discounts
Amex International Airline Program special rates only apply to premium-cabin fares, including premium economy, first, and business class. Be sure to select the correct class of service in order to see qualifying fares for this program – for instance, you won’t see these discounts if you select economy class.
You can purchase Amex International Airline Program fares for yourself and up to seven people traveling with you on the same itinerary. However, you cannot purchase these fares for other people when you aren’t traveling with them. The discounts apply to both refundable and nonrefundable tickets.
Bonus Amex points
Beyond discounts on eligible flights, you’ll also earn 5 Amex points per dollar when you book through the program when you pay with your
Paying with points
You can spend your Membership Rewards points at a rate of 1 cent per point toward travel purchases with Amex Travel, and this includes special fares purchased through the Amex International Airline Program.
This rebate makes using points for flights a reasonable option to consider; for personal
Note that Amex International Airline Program fares may carry restrictions and offer different benefits than regular fares sold directly by the airline. So be sure to read the fine print!
For example, not all special fares are refundable, even in a business-class cabin. Special fares may also be ineligible for ground services such as limousine service or lounge access (as is the case with certain fares on Emirates).
Finally, note that Amex charges a $39 fee to make bookings over the phone, so it’s best to book online whenever possible.
Although flights from most airlines are available through Amex Travel, special Amex International Airline Program rates are only available from participating airlines.
If you’re traveling to a destination that isn’t served by one of the above airlines, you won’t be able to find a special rate with the Amex International Airline Program. However, because Amex Travel is a full-service travel agency, other fare options will be shown.
How to book through the International Airline Program
By default, when you search for flights through Amex, you’ll just get normal rates. To use the Amex International Airline Program, you need to go to the specific program link. Make sure to log in to your American Express account before you search.
If you search for premium-cabin flights, itineraries that are eligible for the International Airline Program discount will be highlighted in the search results. You’ll see the original price crossed out and the discounted price shown in its place.
The “original price” for this itinerary shown on the Amex Travel website matches what Delta is charging on its own website – in this case, the International Airline Program fare is more than a $400 discount compared to what Delta is charging for direct bookings.
However, just because it’s discounted doesn’t mean it’s the best fare – for these dates, American Airlines flights without the International Airline Program discount are still $135 cheaper than the discounted Delta/Virgin Atlantic flights.
When to use the Amex International Airline Program
If you need to book a cash ticket in premium economy, business, or first class and you have a
But the International Airline Program can also be a great way to use points to book discounted premium fares for less than you’d pay for an award ticket, particularly if you have the
One way to book this ticket is to transfer your Membership Rewards points to Delta and book an award ticket, which would cost 320,000 Membership Rewards points plus about $6 in taxes and fees.
A cash ticket on the same dates costs $3,919 – and with the International Airline Program, you’ll save another $478, making it $3,441 round-trip, or 344,120 Membership Rewards points.
If you have the
On top of that, you can earn miles for the ticket with the frequent flyer program of your choice. For example, if you credited these flights to Delta, you would earn 19,450 Delta miles, 6,591 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs), and 3,890 Medallion Qualification Dollars.
The Amex International Airline Program sometimes offers highly attractive fares for premium-cabin travel compared to the rates that are available to the general public. On top of that, you’ll earn 5x Membership Rewards points for your flight purchases. And if you have an
Will you want to regularly use this program? That depends on your travel patterns, but probably not. That being said, if you’re stuck buying a ticket, the International Airline Program is always an option worth checking, and you may be pleasantly surprised by the savings.
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