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American Express Platinum Domestic Companion Ticket Test

05/11/2007

Update : Amex is currently updating their offer on Platinum Card. The present features may not be updated and we will update them as soon as the new information becomes available.

I will be going to Atlanta at the end of May over the weekend with my friend Jim for a seminar. It also occurred to me that my American Express Platinum Card has a domestic airline companion ticket program that allowed me to get one free ticket. So I decided to see this works. This is my little story two days ago on how I saved money on two airline tickets :

I checked for flight availability from Philadelphia to Atlanta and it turns out that US Airways was the best choice. I then keyed in my preferred itinerary into US Airways’ website and the total cost came up to $292, with taxes, it was about $312.18 (if I recall correctly).

So I called American Express Platinum’s 1-800 number. I selected travel and then chose the Domestic Companion flight menu and was taken to a travel agent. The company that runs this program for Amex is API (can’t remember what it stands for).

I was told that the minimum cost of an airline ticket (without the taxes) is $299. Hence for the flight that I wanted, I still had to pay $299 even though it was quoted at $292. But there were other taxes and fees as well. Here is the breakdown :

$41.18 – tax per ticket (multiplied by two since I was getting a companion ticket)
$15.00 – ticketing cost per ticket (ditto)
$411.36 – total cost

Being who I am and that fact that I wanted to blog about this experience, I asked the agent what the $41.18 tax consist of. This was the breakdown he read from his cheat sheet :

$20.38 – US Airways Tax – (huh! kinda like the ‘bogus tax’ that cell phone operators charge?)
$6.80 – airport tax
$5.00 – fuel tax
$9.00 – federal tax

If I had bought two seperate tickets, it would have cost $624.36. Hence, both Jim and myself saved $106.50 each. Had Mrs Credit Card been my companion, we would have saved $213.00. Given that the annual fee of the card is $395, I guess that a couple more free companion flights would cover the annual cost (By the way, you can use the companion ticket feature four times in one calendar year).

This was a very pleasant experience for me. I must say this feature is impressive because I can choose my own flights, unlike some other reward programs that only give you the flights if they have not sold out their ‘allocation’! I will using definitely be using this feature again later this year. It really looks like the $395 annual fee will be covered by my next trip with Mrs Credit Card.

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