What is the International Airline Program?
The IAP offers AMEX Platinum/Centurion cardholders special discounted airfares on selected airlines. There are currently seven IAP partner airlines available to Singapore cardholders:
- Singapore Airlines
- American Airlines
- British Airways
- Etihad Airways
- Japan Airlines
- Qatar Airways
*If you Google for IAP, you may come across a much longer list. Do note that IAP-eligible carriers differs by country; cardholders in the USA have access to a much wider selection.
Here’s the ground rules of IAP fares:
- Your journey must start and end in Singapore
- The Platinum cardholder must be one of the travelers
- Available for Premium Economy, Business and First Class bookings only
- You can use your $400 Platinum travel air credit in conjunction with the IAP
Although the IAP’s T&Cs say that “only one companion ticket or upgrade is allowed per Platinum Member travelling per itinerary”, in reality you can book as many IAP companion fares as you wish. In other words, a family of four traveling together could all enjoy the IAP rate, provided the Platinum cardholder is part of the group.
Bookings made through the IAP will enjoy the usual AMEX Platinum Charge earn rate of 0.78 mpd, unless you book Singapore Airlines, which earns 1.95 mpd. This only applies if you pay for the entire booking with your AMEX Plat Charge card- partial cash and points payments will not qualify.
Tickets purchased through the IAP are just like regular revenue fares, so they’ll earn miles and elite status credit/PPS value based on their ticket class/value.
The IAP is available to both principal and supplementary cardholders.
How much can you save?
I did a dummy search for a handful of round-trip flights in Business Class and found savings ranging between 3 and 17%. I understand others have found better, though- Mark at The Shutterwhale was able to find 28% off SQ flights to Japan.
The savings you find will heavily depend on the dates and routes that you search, so take the sample figures below with a pinch of salt. Sometimes you’ll do better, sometimes you’ll do worse.
Tokyo (Business Class)
London (Business Class)
New York (Business Class)
Auckland (Business Class)
Note that the IAP doesn’t always give you the lowest prices. For example, I found Singapore Airlines flights to Sydney pricing at $3.9K under the IAP versus $3.2K under the regular results. It’s best practice to do your own comparison shopping before booking.
The IAP is also subject to blackout dates, which is why you may not see any IAP rates on certain days.
In the screenshots above, you’ll see that it’s possible to pay for flights with your Membership Rewards points. The implicit valuation is 0.48 cents per MR point. Given that 400 MR points= 250 miles, this is like accepting a 0.768 cent per mile valuation- definitely not worthwhile.
Booking IAP Fares
IAP fares can be searched and booked online through the AMEX Travel Portal. Simply login to your AMEX account, click the Menu button–>Travel–> Book Travel Online
If you hold multiple AMEX cards, you’ll be prompted to select one. Select your AMEX Platinum card to see IAP rates.
This will bring you to the IAP homepage, where you search for flights as you would an ordinary OTA.
When choosing flights, be sure to look out for airlines with the “International Airline Program- Platinum Card Member Benefit” header.
Once you’ve found what you need, you can either book directly online or call up the AMEX concierge (1800 392 1177) to book it for you.
Although I’ve never bought a non-mistake Business/First Class fare in my life, I can imagine that there are some out there who do so on a regular basis. For them, the IAP can represent a good way of saving additional money (although it won’t quite give you sub-$600 Business Class flights!)
I’m hoping to see other regional airlines like Cathay Pacific added to the IAP roster in the near future.