Extended: Amex Platinum cardholders can book discounted domestic airfare through March
Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available.
Great news for Amex Platinum cardholders: Through the end of March, The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Business Platinum Card® from American Express can book discounted domestic airfare through Amex Travel.
The discount works similarly to American Express' International Airline Program, which offers discounted premium cabin airfare on international flights. This promotion, however, applies the discount to both economy and first-class travel.
This promotion was originally valid on flights booked by Dec. 31, 2020, for travel through March 31, 2021. It's since been extended through March 31, 2021 for travel between Jan. 10 and May 31. The promotion is currently offline but will be available for booking starting Jan. 10.
The discounts are widespread and offer pretty substantial savings — even on last-minute tickets. Here's a closer look at the promotion and a handful of sample routes.
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Booking discounted domestic airfare with Amex Travel
In my research, I found that only flights operated by American and Delta are eligible for discounts.
Amex states that discounts up to 20% are possible. In practice, I was able to find discounts on both first and economy class tickets, with some discounts being at high as 15% off the price advertised by Google Flights.
You can find discounted flights at the last-minute and when booking far out from your date of departure. Just note that all flights need to be booked by March 31 and the discount is only valid on tickets departing on or before May 31.
Again, the promotion is currently offline, but will be available starting Jan. 10, 2021.
Unfortunately, not all routes are discounted. During the 2020 promotion, I had the most luck searching for flights between major cities, but it's worth searching regardless of where you're flying.
It's also worth noting that Amex doesn't sell basic economy tickets, so all economy tickets show prices for standard economy.
How to find discounted domestic flights on Amex Travel
Finding these discounted fares is easy.
As discussed in the intro, all you have to do is search the Amex Travel website for your flight of choice. Make sure you're logged into your Amex account before you search, so the discounts show up. You may also want to search Google Flights at the same time to cross-check pricing.
You're likely to find the best discounts on flights marked as "Recommended Flights" in the search result. This is shown right above the flight's timing.
One word of warning before you search: try and stay away from Insider Fares. These are discounted rates that can only be booked with your Membership Rewards points at a rate of 1 cent per point, which isn't a good deal, since TPG values Membership Rewards points at 2 cents per point.
Examples of Amex Platinum flight discounts
So, what type of discount can you expect? It turns out, Amex is offering a hefty discount on many routes.
For example, I searched for an economy class round-trip flight from New York (LGA) to Chicago-O'Hare (ORD) departing next week. The cheapest nonstop flight on American Airlines was $317, according to Google Flights.
Amex Travel showed the same flights for $282, giving you a $35 discount over booking direct.
I also searched for a flight from New York-JFK to San Francisco (SFO) departing in early March. Google Flights showed a Delta flight pricing at $333 round-trip in economy.
On Amex Travel, the same flight priced at $286. This means that you get a $47 discount by booking through the portal with your Amex Platinum.
Unfortunately, not all discounts are so exciting. This New York (LGA) to Miami (MIA) round-trip flight on Delta costs $277 when booked through Google Flights.
You can book the same flight for $269 through Amex Travel, for a discount of $8. It's a nice discount to have, but you'll have to deal with Amex Travel if you need to change or cancel your flight.
You can score a discount on premium travel too
You'll find discounts on domestic premium cabins too. This early January New York-JFK to Los Angeles (LAX) flight on American Airlines costs $1,197 on Google Flights in business class, which is a pretty normal price for this route.
Alternately, you can use your Amex discount to book the flight for $1,020. This means you're saving $177, which is a great discount for a premium flight.
An American itinerary from San Francisco (SFO) to Miami (MIA) is showing a discount too. This round-trip first-class itinerary costs $764 through Google Flights.
The flight costs $719 on Amex Travel for a discount of $45.
Some shorter routes are discounted too. This first-class flight from Chicago-O'Hare (ORD) to Atlanta (ATL) on American Airlines is $418 when booked through Google Flights.
Amex Travel prices the same ticket at $377.50, giving you a discount of roughly $41.
Oddly enough, I can only find discounted first class fares on American Airlines. Other airlines — including Delta — are all pricing premium flights the same as Google Flights.
It's great to see Amex continue to add benefits to the Platinum Card during the coronavirus pandemic. Offering discounted flights during this time means more business for the airlines and more value for cardholders, which seems like a win-win to me.
Better yet, this promotion actually offers substantial discounts on some routes. This show of goodwill from Amex is one that cardholders like myself are sure to remember in the future, encouraging us to keep the Platinum card in our wallets for years to come.
Personally, I'd love to see Amex make this a permanent benefit like the International Airlines Program. It makes the Platinum Card feel more premium than it already does and is a definite add to my Amex Platinum benefit wishlist.
Feature photo by Philip Pilosian/Shutterstock