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Over the last few months, a couple of notable airlines have made news by declaring bankruptcy (Alitalia) or getting dangerously close to bankruptcy (South African Airways). Tuesday, we learned that yet another airline is on the brink: Air Berlin. The German carrier’s bankruptcy comes after the cash-strapped Air Berlin was denied additional funding by part-owner Etihad Airways, which provided 250 million euros (US$294 million) to keep the airline afloat just a few months ago.
In order to keep operations going in the short run, the German government quickly announced that it would be providing a loan of 150 million euros (US$176 million). This funding is expected to keep the airline operating for three months. So, you’re going to want to book a trip soon, especially if you want to take advantage of the Amex Offer of 20,000 Membership Rewards for spending $1,000 with Air Berlin.
We’ve known for a while that Air Berlin wasn’t doing well. It has struggled to differentiate itself in a crowded aviation industry. Would it try to cut costs and structure as a low-cost carrier to avoid competing head-to-head with Germany’s flag carrier Lufthansa? Or, would it act as a full-service carrier as a fellow member of the Oneworld alliance? Its identity struggle has persisted for years.
This marks another black-eye for Etihad Airways. The Abu Dhabi-based carrier has invested heavily in two money-losing European airlines, with a 49% stake in Alitalia and 29% in Air Berlin. These two cash-draining mistakes are a large part of the reason that Etihad’s former CEO James Hogan no longer holds his position at the helm of the Middle Eastern airline.
There’s no word yet on what the airline’s bankruptcy will mean for the Air Berlin TopBonus mileage program. Currently, the program is in the midst of a devaluation — with sweet spots open for flights booked until the end of August. For now, though, hold off on booking Air Berlin flights for departures beyond November.
The American Express Platinum card has some of the best perks out there: cardholders enjoy the best domestic lounge access (Delta SkyClubs, Centurion Lounges, and Priority Pass), a $200 annual airline fee credit as well as up to $200 in Uber credits, and mid-tier elite status at SPG, Marriott, and Hilton. Combined with the 60,000 point welcome offer -- worth $1,140 based on TPG's valuations -- this card is a no-brainer for frequent travelers. Here are 5 reasons you should consider this card, as well as how you can figure out if the $550 annual fee makes sense for you.
- Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
- Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
- 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
- 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
- Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
- Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
- $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
- Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
- $550 annual fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees