American Express Adds Priority Boarding and 20% In-Flight Discounts for Delta Amex Cardholders

by on August 2, 2011 · 35 comments

in American Express, Delta

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Chase recently announced Priority Boarding benefits with their new United Explorer and Continental Onepass Plus cards and today Delta announced the same for many of their Express cardholders.

According to today’s press release, Gold and Platinum Delta Amex cardmembers will soon receive priority boarding when flying with Delta. Priority boarding means early access to overhead bin space and a less stressful boarding experience. However, I imagine the “priority” boarding on many flights will now be over half the plane because his benefit extends up to 8 companions traveling with the cardmember, much like the First Bag Free benefit.

The priority boarding benefit will begin September 1st, as will another perk: a 20% discount on all eligible in-flight purchases for cardmembers and their travelmates. Examples of Delta in-flight amenities include; video games, beverages, movies, food and tv shows.

What are your thoughts on these new perks? As a Delta elite, I’m a little annoyed there will be more people with priority boarding, but frankly I am usually upgraded to first class and since Delta boards first class before elites, this shouldn’t affect me too much. Overall, I don’t think we should be too surprised – I think we all know how much the airlines value their credit card partnerships so I only suspect more perks will be given to cardholders as airlines compete for not only premium passengers, but premium passengers who spend a lot on credit cards.

If you are considering getting one of these cards, right now you can receive 25,000 miles when you sign-up (and add two additional cards) for the American Express Delta Gold card. There is a $95 annual fee, waived for the first year. Receive 22,500 miles (5,000 MQMs) when you sign-up (and add one additional card) for American Express Delta Platinum. There is a $150 annual fee.

Other Delta SkyMiles Credit Card Benefits and Features (per the press release)

American Express offers several Delta co-brand Credit Cards, including the Gold and Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Cards, and Delta Reserve Credit Card, which feature many benefits in addition to priority boarding and in-flight savings:

  • A free checked bag on every Delta flight – up to a $50 savings per person on a round-trip ticket – available for the Cardmember and up to eight people traveling in their reservation
  • One mile for every eligible dollar spent on the Card
  • Double miles for all Delta purchases
  • No limit to the number of miles Cardmembers can earn and miles don’t expire
  • Ability to “Pay with Miles” – Cardmembers can pay for all or a portion of the cost of any Delta seat with no black out dates or seat restrictions
  • Domestic companion certificate upon annual renewal of Cardmembership
  • Ability to redeem miles at discounted redemption rates on hotel stays, car rentals merchandise and more


Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • CatJo

    Interesting – I was planning to transfer 100k MR points (just signed up for Amex Platinum and Premier Rewards Gold cards) to Delta for 50% first-time bonus and 25k MQM which would get me to Silver Medallion status. All that really gets me, I think, is free checked bags and access to preferred seats in coach – pretty low on the totem pole for upgrades. I don’t think there are any priority boarding (or priority security) benefits for Silver Medallions; should I consider getting a Delta Gold card?

  • infamousdx

    Wow Priority Boarding for up to 8 companion is pretty crazy. I can understand extended the free first bag (like the old OnePass Plus card used to do) but holy crap, a few Delta Amex cards and the whole plane could have priority boarding.

  • Anonymous

    I would still rather have Silver medallion. I’m writing this on a flight from JFK-MIA and my seatmate is a silver and was upgraded. Plus if your flight is ever canceled, you will get better service as a Silver.

    That being said, if you’d rather use those 100k Amex on a different airline and get the Gold card, you’d get all the basic benefits of Silver anyway so I see your dilemma. My gut says get silver, but I don’t think you could go wrong either way.

  • CatJo

    Yeah, tough call right? I lean towards Silver medallion – an upgrade once in a while is nice (as you point out, it CAN happen ); and I can only take advantage of this 25k MQM offer once. Plan to have several more MR points over the next year or so and there’s no need to just leave them in there; I’d like to use these things.

    Besides, with four AMEX cards already (old/original Costco, plus Gold, Platinum and SPG all in the last month) I think it’s time to give new Amex applications a break :)

  • AD

    Good blog post. On another note, I think you’re overexposing self-evaluations of your own trips. Why does anyone care about what the lobby looks like in your hotel in the Maldives? This site is called “thepointsguy” Brian. Tell me how we can accumulate points and/or similar deals (like the one listed above). Look, its your site and you run it how you want, but if you’re asking one of your loyal readers his opinion, now you have it. If you want to throw in an occasional evaluation of a hotel/lounge, then fine, but don’t overdo it.

  • Anonymous

    I get a lot of positive feedback on my trip reports. I always tie in how I used points (and how other people can too). Its one thing to plan a trip using miles and points, but what if the destination is horrible? Was it really worth it then?

    So I appreciate the feedback, but I think its important that people think big picture.. miles and points are about travel (at least to me), so I like to highlight how I can live my travel dreams at age 28 like I never thought possible- courtesy of my points and elite status.

  • Anonymous

    Agree that its a lot, but really how many people travel with 8 companions?

  • Josh_brooks

    I’ve been silver for almost a year and get upgraded 35-50% of the time. Really depends on your flights. If you go through Atlanta a lot, you’ll never see an upgrade, but some of the more obscure routings do.

  • DonV

    I’d be “OK” with the priority boarding perk if it is to be zone 2… But I’m on a lot of flights where zone 1 boarding has a full FC and 60+ in zone 1 boarding. That’s over 1/2 the plane as is. I don’t want to lose bin space to someone who may not have Silver status… And with that, as Silver, I wouldn’t want to lose out either.

    So priority boarding with zone 3 and then general with zone 4. I’m sure that’s not how this will be implemented.

  • Anonymous

    I think its preboarding/infants, first class, zone 1 (all other elites and cardholders) zone 2, zone 3

  • Guest

    Please tell me cardholders are going to get Zone 2, not Zone 1. As a platinum medallion who flies out of Atlanta regularly to New York (thus only about 50-60% hit rate on upgrades with all the Diamonds in Atlanta), more undeserving people in Zone 1 is a terrible outcome.

  • Jessica

    According to this website below, it will be zone 2. I remember how excited I was when I first got silver status based on segments on Northwest 10 years ago; now it is just a $95 annual fee for most of the same benefits. At least silvers still have the upgrades and the better service in delays.

  • Alex

    I was actually wondering when Delta was going to jump on this. Since United does the same thing with their Mileage Plus Explorer card ( Doesn’t really bother me anyways. The card holders have no chance of getting upgraded unless they are available for purchase (which is rare), at least as a Silver, I have been upgraded about 90% of the time this year so far while flying through ATL. (Thanks to TPG for going into detail on how to pick your flights on some of his previous posts). Guess it is a wait and see game as always.

  • AD

    Brian, first of all, your site is excellent and I check it every day. It’s informative, consistently updated, clean, and provides a pseudo-encyclopedia of knowledge. But… just made my point. “I like to highlight how I can live my travel dreams at age 28…..” Your circumstances are distinctly different from the majority of your readership. Yes, most of us, myself included, want to use points to take vacations, but in the event that we do that, we can look at pictures and reviews on Tripadvisor.

  • Alanc2k2

    By all means, keep those super-detailed trip reports coming! Personally, I love reading about the lobby decor. Brian — one quick question: I’ve had a basic Delta Amex card for ages, and I probably got whatever bonus miles were offered at the time (this was years ago, before I even paid attention to miles and points). If I applied for the Gold Delta now (as a new application) do you think Amex would still give me the 25,000 points? I’ve read through previous posts and am a bit confused as to whether Amex awards bonuses once per Delta credit card customer or once per Delta credit card product. Any thoughts, guidance appreciated! And keep up the great blog! — alan

  • Mitch

    I’m DL Gold, on my way to Platinum, and hopefully able to requalify for Gold into 2014, so this won’t effect me for a while. However, I really do think they need to make the AmEx boarding after all elites but before non-cardmembers. Right now, it’s slated for Zone 2 with the Silvers, and I don’t think that’s a great thing to do.

  • Mitch

    Don’t underestimate the value of preferred seats. My life flying DL got a lot better once I got status.

  • Mark K

    I think they should have limited this new benefit to Delta Reserve AMEX holders or at leat Platinum and Reserve cardholders. This doesn’t seem to be good news for those of us who are Delta elites and sometimes get the perk of boarding earlier. I can just imagine a much longer Priority line now.

    The boarding lines are already confusing enough as it is (at least in NYC), and Delta doesn’t always follow the boarding procedures very well anyway. The last two flights I was on, they did pre-boarding and then called everyone else. And there are always the people that sneak on earlier than they are supposed to. All this makes for alot of pushing and grumbling. Now that cardholders get the benefit, they will have to start calling out all the zones and enforcing it better.

  • Heather ✈

    I like seeing your travel pictures. It makes me think outside the box at how we can travel… and travel smarter. So please continue posting your exciting pictures. Of course, I might look at Tripadvisor, but I like how you talk about the points and connect it with the points you used to get there. :-)

  • Mikes

    I enjoy living vicariously through the trip reports. I have an incredibly advanced ability to not read something that I don’t want to. ;)

    Maybe you could rename yourself thepointsandassociatedtravelrelatedsightsguy ?
    Uh… maybe not.

  • Ryan

    I would strongly disagree with AD. I am 25 and travel quite a bit and stay at nice places like TPG. His circumstances are not distinctively different from his readers. How do you make this generalization? Myself and many other people my age read his site for ideas on places to visit and tips for maximizing earnings on points. It helps to read reviews from someone whose opinion we trust. TPG, please keep posting your great trip reports!

  • Mikes

    My first reaction was “doh! we just traveling Delta a few weeks ago”… then I realized that we boarded last anyway, to give our twins tots more leg-stretching time and less seat time.

    Having been a premium traveller in a past life (about the time TPG was entering highschool, now that I know his age…) I’d agree that ‘earned’ status should have priority. I’d also say this should be limited to the card holder and immediate family. I’d also happily take a 2nd bag checked free in lieu of early boarding.

  • Loripig
  • SuzyD

    As you told Points Guy himself, “its your site and you run it how you want”… EXACTLY!
    It’s simple enough to skip over his trip reports, if you prefer Trip Advisor… although when you read reviews from the same reviewer, you get a feel for what kind of things that reviewer (TPG) likes and doesn’t like… and you can more accurately gauge whether or not you would want to visit the destination yourself.
    I, too, thoroughly enjoy reading the trip reports and it’s not because I’m in my twenties… because I’m not.
    I simply enjoy his style of writing. It’s just so much more satisfying to read a review written by someone who is educated and can put together a complete sentence without misspellings and grammatical messes.
    You said, “if you’re asking one of your loyal readers his opinion, now you have it.”
    Indeed he does.
    Please let TPG maintain his blog how he sees fit.
    Now… wasn’t this a piece on Priority Boarding and 20% In-Flight Discounts?

  • GLIE

    Keep doing what you DO TPG! Your blog is my motivation… worse case I can see places I cant go :D

  • Guest

    I am curious about when the actual priority boarding happens with cardmembers vs elites, as a United Elite its a good plus and if the start handing it out to everyone it lessens the value of loyalty.

  • Anonymous

    I am fine with the extra perk that Delta added to promote its amex cards. My gripe is with respect to the fact that Delta has consistently been downgrading the benefits given to Silver Medallion members. I work hard to get and keep Silver (as I do not travel for business, and pay for all of my flights). It bothers me that Delta has downgraded Silver in so many respects. Even in the original flight greeting on a flight, the flight attendant now thanks the diamond, platinum and gold medallion members only!

  • MJLouise

    I also enjoy the trip reports. Keep them up, especially when you can tie them in with how you’ve used points. Helps to fuel my imagination too :D

  • Aaron Klein

    No, tell me they are going to get Zone 3, for crying out loud.

    Zone 2 is practically the only perk that a Delta Silver Elite gets.

    If they screw that up, I seriously may have to change because the flight schedule out of my airport is not that great right now.

  • Aaron Klein


    I don’t care about getting thanked. But lumping silvers in with people who have a credit card is ridiculous.

  • mac

    Does anyone know if yo have to use the card to purchase the ticket to get the Priority Boarding? And if you don’t, how will you get Zone 2 printed on our boarding pass? I cannot find an explanation of this on the Delta or Chase site.

  • Mitch

    I don’t know why you’d be looking on the Chase site for information about an AmEx card.

    If the benefit is like the free checked bag, no need to use the card. When you log into your DL account, it will show what type of DL credit card you have (if you have one). As long as that’s there, you’ll get the priority boarding benefit.

  • mac

    Thanks Mitch. And my mistake regarding Chase, I was also looking at United’s similiar program via a Chase Card.. I hope you are right about the DL account and this being seamless.

  • Hali

    I currently have AmEx Gold Card and already get most of the perks listed above. Love the 1st bag free! Does anyone know if I switch to AmEx Platinum Card, is the companion certificate FREE once a year? Now I pay $99 for companion to fly. That may be worth the difference to upgrade… any other specific perks to upgrade for that I am currently not getting with Gold?

  • Bradyfigueroa

    I have the platinum card and pay $150 ayear and get a companion certificate each year.

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