New Amex Platinum Benefit Promises Flight Discounts on United, Lufthansa & More. But is it a Perk or Bait and Switch?

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NEW American Express Platinum Benefit: Flight Discounts Including United

NEW American Express Platinum Benefit: Flight Discounts Including United

*I promise, the title contains no clickbait (as you’ll see)*

As many of you know, the Amex Platinum Card is one of my most prized possessions. I love pretty much everything about it from the website to the benefits to the Membership Rewards program. Don’t forget, you can still get 100,000 Membership Rewards for signing up. This post explains how to check if you’re eligible for this incredible offer!

I’ve written detailed guides that cover my favorite benefits including Fine Hotels & Resorts and Amex Insider Fares that allow you to change certain flights without cancellation or change fees. Yesterday, I was doing my usual scroll through of the Amex website and Platinum benefits page and I discovered something amazing… a new benefit! “The Travel Collection by Travel Leaders Group”. Immediately, I went to the benefit details and was referred to another site to find out more. Below is my experience  *trying* to learn about and utilize this new “benefit”.

Guide: American Express Platinum Card Benefits: Ultimate Guide Including Details of Each Perk and How to Maximize

NEW American Express Platinum Benefit: Flight Discounts Including United

 

I visited the Travel Collection website and was unable to see many details. The homepage basically tells you to call them to enroll. Ok, so it’s one of those “call us to find out more” benefits. I’m still excited because the time I discovered a way to get Free Change and Cancellation Fees on American Airlines was also a call to find out more situation.

NEW American Express Platinum Benefit: Flight Discounts Including United NEW American Express Platinum Benefit: Flight Discounts Including United

Well now, I’m like jumping off the walls excited! If it costs $295 to join so I’m thinking it’s gotta be good. Also, you can use Membership Rewards points to pay (generally not a great idea unless you’re getting the 35% rebate with the Business Platinum Card. Check out my American Express Membership Rewards Points Guide: Including Best Ways to Earn and Redeem Rewards Points and my guide to the pay with points benefit here: Get 50% More Value From Your Amex Membership Rewards with this Awesome Travel Benefit.

The Call

I tell the customer service rep that I’d like to sign up for their program and confirm that I am an Amex platinum Cardholder. Here’s where I start to maybe get the feeling there’s something strange going on. Immediately after confirming my name and card status her next question is, “Do you work with a travel agent” I said no. She then asks if I’m registered with another travel agent, because if so I wouldn’t be able to work with them since I would have to work with my regular TA instead. Hmmmm.


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At this point, I’m trying to figure out exactly what type of a program this is through a few softball questions and she informs me that all the information and everything I need is on the sight. Also odd. Nonetheless, I sign up and they send me an email confirming my membership and login info.

NEW American Express Platinum Benefit: Flight Discounts Including United

The Website

I login to my account with no issue and start to look around for more info on their services. As I navigate through the sections, naturally I’m excited when I see the Air discount section and then I see they offer discounts on United, which is really amazing. But guess what? You have to call for information, only some basic boilerplate terms and conditions are present in each airline section. So far, I have been routed from a site, to a phone number, back to a site with no information and now back to the phone number. I am officially losing my patience.

Another Call

This time around my purpose was to find out the details of the flight discounts, I figured I’d start with United since we rarely see discounts there. The entire call was painful, but what was worse was how she literally could tell me nothing about how the discounts work, what routes they’re on, how much of a discount or anything of the sort. I did 3 sample searches with her while I followed along with google flights and all 3 searches came back the same or more expensive, but this is not my biggest issue. WAIT FOR IT.

As she’s quoting me a price that’s approximately $4,000 more than anything I’m seeing on Google flights, I tell her to forget it because it’s almost double the price. She says “wait! Let me see if I can find you anything else”. Now I’m wondering if I’m on the phone with a used car salesman or a travel agent, but we digress. She miraculously found a First Class flight from JFK to Frankfurt on United for $2,700. This is amazing since the last flight she quoted me was more than $10,000. Obviously the 80% discount is a bit suspect but I take down the flight numbers and let her know I’ll be calling back. When I looked at the flights, they’re all business class. I’m not sure if she tried to bait and switch me or if a travel agent doesn’t know the difference. Either way, we were very clear on the fact that I was looking for First Class.

Thoughts

American Express has consistently improved features and benefits and continuously increased the value of my membership. I’m guessing the folks over at Amex aren’t completely aware of the actual service being provided or the misrepresentations made by the Luxury Travel Collection. To be fair, I have not looked at the other benefits and there very well could be some value there, but with all of the booking options available to us (including the excellent folks at Amex Travel) I’m no longer interested. I do however promise to try again in a month so as to inform you all if there’s actually some value in this benefit for you. I will definitely be passing along my experience and hopefully they either fix the problem or part ways with this company.

Please let me know in the comments if you’ve called and what you’re experience has been so far.

 


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19 COMMENTS

  1. Wow, you weren’t kidding… that really feels like a used car salesman. I heard of excellent luck using the premium class discount, but this is questionable at best. I hope they get their crap together. In this age for an agent to not know the difference between First and Business blows my mind…

  2. All I can say is … thanks for taking one for the team! 😀

    Clearly, no one ever did any user experience studies on this new “benefit” :-O

  3. Just a typo in the first paragraph… “site” not “sight”.

    Thanks for the tip! Trying to decide if I want to jump in on the Amex as I have the SPG (yawn) and the Chase Collection. Might not be a bad idea but don’t really know much about their rewards program.

    • In this article I have links to membership rewards and platinum guides… it’s pretty much everything you need to know 🙂

  4. If the airline discount is not clearly stated on a website within a couple of clicks, it is fake.
    I mean, if AARP can give you a discount on BA without much ado, then so can another organization.

  5. Yeh, that sounds like a pass for me until it gets fixed, or they just drop it. I want to be able to do it online, not have to call them on the phone all of the time and from what you are saying, it sounds like some shady sweatshop boilerplate travel agency hidden away in a jungle someplace underground.

    -Patrick

  6. Ummmm. United moved ALL of their service out of JFK to Newark a few years ago now.

    I flew on UA from EWR to LHR last month in Polaris (no first class service offered). UA is/was offering a summer promotion on flights to London with a free instant upgrade to Polaris for the price of a full fare economy class ticket.

  7. They have Delta too apparently. Saved $25 on one way for Christmas. They’re claiming Y fare at E fare price basically.

    United on the way back is a better timing but it’s the same price as through United. My corporate rate is $20 cheaper (basically $5-10/segment cheaper) so as a reminder, see if your employer has a United corporate contract and whether they allow you to book personal flights under that contract.

        • Yeah. I knew the current pricing, so I clarified. “Are you sure that’s not basic economy?” “No, sir, it’s a Y fare” “It’s a Y fare?” “Yes.” She even “assigned” seats. Considering a true Y fare shows up at $1153 on that route, I should have known better.

          When I called back, they changed it to an L fare, but their seat assignments never stuck. At that point I called back a third time and canceled. An only plus is that they picked up immediately and they were very quick about everything.

          I do plan on sending a nastygram to Amex over the experience. Anyone have a recommendation on the best medium to give impactful feedback?

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