Amex International Airline Program: Tickets Now Bookable Online

Filed Under: American Express, Credit Cards
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The International Airline Program is one of the lesser known benefits of The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Business Platinum® Card from American Express. However, it’s also one of the perks that I’ve found to be the most valuable, as it has saved me a significant amount of money.

Now American Express has made this even better.

What is the Amex International Airline Program?

With the Amex International Airline Program (IAP), you can get exclusive savings on select airlines when booking through American Express. This is valid for international itineraries in first class, business class, and premium economy.

This can be used on both refundable and non-refundable tickets, and is valid for the purchase of 1-8 tickets on the same flight. The discount is available for flights originating in the US, and from select Canadian gateways.

Amex claims that the average savings are $150 roundtrip in premium economy, $300 roundtrip in business class, and $600 roundtrip in first class.

Which airlines is the Amex International Airline Program valid on?

The Amex International Airline Program is valid for select itineraries on the following 25 airlines:

  • Aeromexico
  • Air China
  • Air France
  • Air New Zealand
  • Alitalia
  • Asiana Airlines
  • Austrian Airlines
  • British Airways
  • Brussels Airlines
  • Cathay Pacific
  • China Airlines
  • Delta
  • Emirates
  • Etihad
  • Iberia
  • Japan Airlines
  • KLM
  • LATAM
  • Lufthansa
  • Qantas
  • Qatar Airways
  • Singapore Airlines
  • South African Airways
  • SWISS
  • Virgin Atlantic

How do you book Amex International Airline Program tickets?

Up until now, the only way to inquire about fares and to book was to phone up Amex Travel:

This was a rather time-consuming process, since you had to call every time to even find out about the fares. Furthermore, if you actually wanted to book, there was a $39 service fee.

The savings are almost always more than that, but that still eats into them a little.

That’s where there’s an exciting update. Amex International Airline Program tickets are now bookable online through amextravel.com. When you search for an itinerary, eligible flights will automatically reflect the lower price. You’ll be able to tell that an itinerary is eligible based on the “INTERNATIONAL AIRLINE PROGRAM: PLATINUM CARD BENEFIT” message at the top of the itinerary.

For example, take a Boston to Delhi business class itinerary.

When you get to the results page you’ll see a Qatar Airways itinerary where the standard price is $3,450, but through Amex IAP you pay only $3,133.

This is an awesome development. Not only do you save $39 if booking, but this also makes it significantly easier to search fares without having to pick up the phone.

Note that not all eligible itineraries may show discounts online, so in some cases, it could still make sense to call and make sure they don’t see discounts by phone when they don’t appear online.

International Airline Program + Amex Pay with Points

You can pay for an Amex International Airline Program ticket with points (either partly or completely — if redeeming partly, you need to redeem at least 5,000 points). The value you get depends on the card you have.

On the surface, both the Amex Personal Platinum Card and Amex Business Platinum Card offer one cent of value towards the cost of a ticket. That means a $2,000 ticket would cost you 200,000 Membership Rewards points, which isn’t a very good deal.

Fortunately, the business version of the card has a 35% rebate on this feature, with some restrictions:

  • Valid for first and business class flights on any airline, or for any flight with the selected qualifying airline
  • You can get up to 500,000 bonus points per calendar year using this method
  • The 35% rebate is refunded after the fact, and will appear 6-10 weeks after the purchase appears on your billing statement

In other words, if you redeemed 200,000 Amex points for $2,000 worth of travel, you’d get 70,000 points back. So you’d essentially be paying 130,000 points for $2,000 worth of airfare, which is a value of ~1.54 cents per point. That’s a pretty solid deal and could be worthwhile, depending on what you’d otherwise do with your points.

Earn 5x points on airfare bookings

One of the other awesome things about booking through the Amex International Airline Program is that if you pay for your ticket with the Amex Personal Platinum Card or Amex Business Platinum Card, you’ll earn 5x Membership Rewards points.

I value those points at 1.7 cents each, so to me, that equates to an 8.5% return on those purchases, which is excellent.

Bottom line

The Amex International Airline Program is a fantastic value, and I’ve saved thousands of dollars with this in the past couple of years. It works on most premium fares on the above airlines, so I’ve had several situations where I found a good business class fare to begin with, which only became better with the discount.

The fact that this is now bookable online makes it all the more valuable.

What has your experience been with the Amex IAP?

(Tip of the hat to Zach Honig)

Regarding Comments: The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.
Comments
  1. That’s wonderful. Especially in combination with the Business Platinum. Essentially, you’re getting the same pricing as Chase (~1.54 c/point) with the IAP discount on flights as a bonus.

  2. You may be getting 5x amex points on flights but no travel insurance, which could be a risky proposition.

  3. “Up until now, the only way to inquire about fares and to book was to phone up Amex Travel:” Online chat was an option for months.

  4. This is an improvement, but without a way to filter out “first” class on the domestic carriers, and a calendar view, it’s still not great.

  5. Flexible date searching not available. This was an issue over the phone as well.

    Maybe best to search with kayak/ITA matrix and go check on amex?

  6. I recently tried to use this for lax-tpe and they quoted me 12k for 2 business class tickets on ANA. Instead I booked aircanada for 5k. I’ve tried to use it on a few trips and have always been disappointed.

  7. Oh man this is fantastic news!

    I’ve never used IAP before because it was such a pain.

  8. My searches on AmexTravel are showing some discounts far higher than advertised by this program. I wonder if that’s a bug?

  9. After my rant in the Comments below Ben’s Westjet review (complaining that we can’t get on that flight using any kind of points) it’s worth noting that the Canadian version of the Amex International Airline Program includes fewer airlines than the USA version, but in Canada, Westjet is among them. So, one could use Amex points to book Westjet and enjoy some discount. Sadly, Canadian Amex Platinum cards offer only 2x for Travel. Because Canada.

  10. I’ve tried using the service in the past, but they usually actually gave a more expensive quote. Only very occasionally would it be cheaper. I got tired of wondering if I’d win the discount lottery when talking to them for a given route, so I stopped wasting my time with IAP.

    Either give a discount all the time, or just don’t give one at all. When a company plays games like that, they’re insulting your intelligence by trying to pull a fast one on you.

    It’s not how a company with integrity behaves, but then the sales and marketing folks waltz in and…

  11. So far I found most fares cheaper elsewhere than Amex after ‘discount’. It remains a bit of a greedy high fee company with cards not in many places accepted.
    I use the card mostly for hotel bookings not booked through Amex.

  12. FANTASTIC. I bought Qatar round trip Jfk-MLE in J today as a result of this article. Thanks for the heads up. Got a great deal!

  13. This is excellent news. I usually save $500-1k per year on international business class tickets in total. The old way of having to call in was a total mess. The agent would ask you which airline they should search on — instead of offering up options. So I had to find what seemed best generally online, note the airline, and have the agent search on it.

    I have no idea why it took them so long to do this — letting people book online saves AmEx money for staffing up the call center also. Or maybe this benefit isn’t used by many customers? I’ve used it on flights with Air China, KLM, Delta, and Air France all in the past year.

  14. Amex really need to improve the U.K. offering, when it is still £450 but like lacking so many of the US card’s benefits and including such things as foreign exchange fees.

  15. I have also found the program disappointing. Every time I have called, F or C tickets are usually discounted off unrestricted fares and are nowhere near the A and Z/P fares I have been able to get direct with airlines. Checking online for a few upcoming dates in the fall the only International Airline Program highlighted flights are on Delta/KLM. Are the discounts reliably
    available on all airlines?

  16. All is well until you need to make a change and have to deal with the untrained agents @ AmexTravel.com which are not the same agents as American Express agents. I’ve been in the travel industry as an executive for 30+ years. I’ve owned several consumer websites as well as a chain for brick and mortar travel agencies. I know this space well. The problem is the agents and supervisors simply do not understand basic industry rules. On the reservation I’m traveling, I’ve been told that, British Airways does not allow stopovers in London on biz class tickets. If you need to change your ticket, you are left to deal with AmexTravel, who are simply call center people with some automated system. You can’t change the ticket with the airline, you can’t change with normal American Express, you are stuck with robots who do not have sufficient training, nor are they willing to learn. When I speak to the Centurion Amex agents, they give apologies but say there is nothing they can do. There are unintended consequence for using AmexTravel.com, and they are not good ones.

  17. Im sorry, every search I do on amextravel, the quoted price is 25% more expensive, I doubt I will ever use that.

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