Last Updated on August 9, 2022
The Platinum Card® and Business Platinum Card® from American Express are famous for the benefits they provide to their cardmembers. From having the best airline lounge access to hotel elite status to annual travel credits, the cards are a traveller's dream. However, one of the benefits that can be found on these cards that doesn't seem to get much attention is the International Airline Program. Also known as IAP, this benefit provides discounts for flying on some of the world's best airlines in premium cabins but it also provides discounts for economy class tickets on WestJet!
With the Platinum Card from American Express and the Business Platinum Card from American Express discounts are available on the base fare for qualifying International First, Business, and Premium Economy Class tickets with participating airlines. Those airlines as of July 2022 are as follows:
Accessing the International Airline Program or IAP is simple. You can choose to book online at travel.americanexpress.ca/ or you can call the Platinum Travel Service at 1-800-263-1616 to book with an agent. Here we'll look at how you access IAP online. You'll start off by visiting the American Express Travel website at https://travel.americanexpress.ca/ or you can access it from americanexpress.ca by clicking on the Travel tab (1) and then click on Book Travel Online (2):
Once at the site you'll want to login with your Amex online credentials so that Amex Travel knows you have a Platinum Card:
If you have more than one American Express Card you'll be presented with an menu to pick which card you would like to utilize for booking online with Amex Travel. In this case, select the radio button for the Platinum Card or the Business Platinum if you have that card and then click on the "Choose card" button below your card options.
And now you'll be brought back to the book travel homepage! Simply search for flights as you would normally do with any booking engine. However so that you are not searching needlessly over a ton of flights you can narrow down the results by selecting a premium class (unless you're booking WestJet) and the airline you are interested in the from the IAP program:
And voila! Once you click search the results will come up and you'll want to keep your eye out for "International Airline Program - Platinum Cardmember Benefit" above the flight result(s). Flight results that do not show this are not discounted.
Once you select your flights you go through a standard online booking process however Amex does allow you to apply their Fixed Points for Travel or Use Points for Purchases options to pay for these flights as well. So not only do you get the discount but you can use your points to pay for a portion or all of the cost of the ticket(s).
Let's look at some examples of the savings IAP provides on business class flights with some global airlines as well as economy and business class with WestJet:
Here we have a flight in business class on Japan Airlines from Vancouver to Tokyo departing March 13, 2023 and returning March 26, 2023. This is the pricing directly from JAL:
and the same flights with Amex's IAP:
As you can see there are some huge savings to be had with the IAP program! This example alone the savings amount to $1,121.03!
For these flights we also conducted a search on Kayak.com to see if you could buy the same flights cheaper anywhere else:
The closest was $4,961 which is almost $600 more than Amex's IAP pricing.
Montreal to Delhi in business class for two weeks in November. Here is the pricing from Qatar Airways:
and those same flights with Amex's IAP:
Another example of some big savings as the Platinum Cards with IAP prices out $841.91 lower than buying direct with Qatar Airways.
Even though it is stated the International Airline Program is only for Premium Economy tickets and higher, the program does provide discounts on all WestJet economy class tickets except for their lowest basic fare. Thus if you are planning on purchasing Econo or higher tickets with WestJet you definitely would want to consider booking via Amex Travel with your Platinum Card to receive some savings.
Here's an example of a family of four flying to Victoria from Calgary for a weekend in September. WestJet did not have an basic fares available so it made this comparison easy to do.
The price of four tickets from WestJet:
Those same four tickets with Amex's IAP:
For this short haul flight for four people the Platinum Card's International Airline Program provides a savings of $145.52. Not a huge difference but it's a savings nonetheless and you'll still earn and receive all your WestJet benefits if you have elite status and/or the WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard. If you fly multiple times per year with your family on WestJet the savings could mount up by using one of the Platinum Cards.
I recommend reading Redemption Stories: Saving $3,800 on last minute flights with the Platinum Card from American Express. This article is about how the Rewards Canada family utilized IAP to save us some cash on some last minute WestJet flights and still receive all of our WestJet benefits etc.
How about a trip for two from Calgary to Maui on WestJet's Boeing 787 Dreamliner in Business Class for May 2023.
The price of the two tickets from WestJet:
Those same two tickets with Amex's IAP:
In this case the IAP provides $878.44 in savings over booking those flights with WestJet. Right here with this one booking the savings more than pays for the $499 or $699 annual fee on the cards! And you still get all the other benefits from the cards!
The International Airline Program is just one of many valuable benefits that come on the Platinum and Business Platinum Cards from American Express. If you purchase economy class tickets with WestJet and/or are in a position where you buy premium class tickets on any of the airlines in the International Airline Program then paying the annual fee on one or both of these Platinum cards is a no-brainer. The savings alone from the program can more than cover the annual fee and then you have all the additional benefits from the cards on top of this to take advantage of!
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This feature was first posted on August 9, 2022
All images via American Express or the respective airlines