Using American Express Platinum Benefits On the Road

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Four days later, I headed back to New York, flying on American Airlines flight 228 to Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD).  My flight arrived at Terminal 5, ORD’s International Terminal, and the line for passport control and immigration was 20 to 30 minutes.  Thanks to another American Express benefit, complimentary membership in Global Entry, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection program designed for frequent travelers, I didn’t have to wait. Instead, I headed to a kiosk off to the side (there was no line for the kiosks, indeed, all five were available), inserted my passport, looked into the camera, completed an electronic customs declaration, and took the receipt that the kiosk generated (this gets handed to the customs inspector at the Global Entry customs queue on the way out).  With zero wait time, I was completely through passport control and customs in five minutes.

Applying for Global Entry was fast and easy.  I completed the online form, paid the $100  membership fee (for five years) using my American Express card, and awaited notification of my in-person interview, which was roughly 10 days later at Terminal 4 at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.  Including the 20-minute drive to and from the airport, the entire process took under an hour.  In addition, within three days of posting the initial charge, American Express had posted a $100 credit to my statement.

With a two-hour layover, I headed to the Admirals Club in Terminal 3.  Once again, all I needed was my Platinum card for admission, which also provided complimentary beverages including a fairly decent Pinot Grigio.  I purchased a sushi platter and sat back and looked at a few newspapers on my Apple iPad until it was time for my flight back to New York.

All in all, the American Express Platinum card provided me with ca. $280 worth of benefits on this trip (2x Admirals Club at $50, Global Entry membership at $100, foreign exchange fees ca. $80) and the yearly fee for the card is only $450.  In my book, this ranks as a true bargain.

(Editor’s Note: I saved the best for last. A lot of the knowledge I gained about certain American Express benefits came from members of the American Express forum at FlyerTalk, a very worthwhile resource on the Web.)

–Jonathan B. Spira is the Editor of Executive Road Warrior and Chief Analyst at Basex, a knowledge economy research firm.


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