What To Do With The AmEx $200 Travel Fee: The In-Flight Commissary & Package Store

Looks like AmEx will not reimburse for any gift card for any airline now.

Everybody DO NOT PANIC! We are not in the hook for a $550 annual fee ($595 for biz) on these cards, therefore we don’t have the stress to “recoup our losses”. My LT MBA DDS friend predicts that AmEx will transition the $200 fee to cover all travel to be in line with Citi Prestige, Chase Sapphire Reserve, City National Bank Crystal Visa Infinite, and U.S. Bank Altitude card. I hope he is right!

In the meantime consider the $200 ($100 for gold) to be the icing on the cake! I almost am thinking about multiple Gold Personal Cards just to get $120 in the form of a $10 Cheesecake Factory of the month club!

Let’s first look at the legitimate things the fee covers:

Incidental fees, such as checked bags and in-flight refreshments.

That pretty straightforward! Two goddamn things: food in flight and bags. Ya’ll know we never pay for bags anyways by showing our CAC at check in. Now the funny part is what is not covered:

Incidental air travel fees must be separate charges from airline ticket charges. Fees not charged by the Card Member’s airline of choice (e.g. wireless internet and fees incurred with airline alliance partners) do not qualify for statement credits. Incidental air travel fees charged prior to selection of a qualifying airline are not eligible for statement credits. Airline tickets, upgrades, mileage points purchases, mileage points transfer fees, gift cards, duty free purchases, and award tickets are not deemed to be incidental fees. The airline must submit the charge under the appropriate merchant code, industry code, or required service or product identifier for the charge to be recognized as an incidental air travel fee.

I hazard to guess that all of these items are being shut down as you read this. So we are now left with eating and drinking on these airlines:

Flyertalk has a whole discussion thread on each airline if you want to continue to take on the challenge of testing what can slip by the churn police, then here are all of your data points:

I have given up completely in this data point game, so many upsets. I have decided for 2020 that I will treat every flight as an In-Flight Commissary & Package Store. (Class VI for you Air Force & Army folk). Going to buy at least two drinks and 4 snack boxes to take off the plane. Some inflight menus can be found here:

So I say let’s make this fun! What is the largest haul you have made on a single flight? They gave me two half bottles of wine and 4 snack boxes on a 2 hour flight from ORD to RAP on United. I once bought an entire row of friends double vodka tonics from ORD to BUF also on United:

The $200 can be easily spent on a single flight. On our most recent Glamping adventure, we had enough snack boxes for the kids to last the entire weekend:

Bring a mooching sack and get ready to raid that service cart. I would go as far as to walk to the galley and buy the remaining snack boxes at the end of service. You will feel like this guy buying the whole lot while you travel in style!


9 thoughts on “What To Do With The AmEx $200 Travel Fee: The In-Flight Commissary & Package Store

  1. Dallasbest says:

    Bought three cheap flights on Alaska, canceled within 24 hours, all for less than 85 each and was just reimbursed. Took about a week.

  2. ChurningCents2011 says:

    I’m curious on why it would even be a reimbursable event since you need to choose an airline for the incidental credit. Not sure if Alaskan Airlines is one of the Airlines to choose for the credit. Any case, I’ll be a DP, just purchased a $198 flight with Alaskan and canceled at the 18-hour mark. I will keep you all posted.

    • Dallasbest says:

      Sorry my comment early didn’t explain fully, yes Alaska is an option and yes I had it selected.

  3. Matt says:

    The 500 mile upgrades still trigger the credit on AA.

    In addition, purchasing points via mileage multiplier while checking out with a ticket also triggers the credit. Not great value but a solid option if you cant spend $1000 on snacks and drinks.

    Also AA typically will not charge for snack items/boxes when you show your military ID.

  4. Saira says:

    If you choose southwest as your airline they will reimburse you with you $200 credit if you buy southwest gift cards

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