Courtesy of American Express
When the Boeing 747 aircraft entered service in 1970, it changed air travel forever. Not only was the plane double the size of the largest existing aircraft — there's a reason it was nicknamed the "jumbo jet" — but it also had vastly improved range and speed, allowing passengers to fly farther and faster than ever before. For 50 years, the "Queen of the Skies" reigned supreme, but the aircraft is being phased out of airline fleets and replaced by more fuel-efficient planes.
But the retirement of the 747 has opened the doors for the aircraft to be repurposed as anything from a hotel to a centerpiece in an apartment complex. And now, one plane is finding new life as a credit card.
American Express is launching a limited-edition credit card made from the metal of a retired Delta 747-400 aircraft, available exclusively for Delta SkyMiles Reserve and Reserve Business Card Members. The sleek black card features a drawing of the 747, as well as details about the specific plane's history, from the date of its first and last flights to the total number of miles the plane flew.
"This is a conversation piece," Dwight James, Delta's senior vice president of customer engagement and loyalty and the CEO of Delta Vacations, told Travel + Leisure. "Pull out your card when you're at a nice restaurant with friends, and your friends will be like, 'What is that?' And the element of that is so cool."
Courtesy of American Express
For cardholders really looking to dive deep into the background of the card, Amex has also launched an augmented reality experience complete with the history of the aircraft (Delta Ship #6307, if you wanted to know), personal stories from 747 crew members, and a behind-the-scenes "wings-to-wallet" video demonstrating the production of the card. That process included metalworkers dissembling the aircraft, harvesting the aluminum exterior, stripping the paint, and rolling the metal into thin sheets.
The idea for the 747 card was born out of a simple customer suggestion. "After a focus group, someone made a comment that we should make a credit card out of an airplane, and the idea stuck," Jon Gantman, senior vice president and general manager of cobrand product management at American Express, said. It's quite on-brand for Amex — the company has a long history with the travel industry, and with Delta in particular.
"In the 1950s, we provided exclusive tours and travel itineraries to Delta's airline customers. In 1996, we introduced our first travel rewards credit card," Gantman said. "Now for the first time in aviation history, we've transformed aircraft metal into a credit card."
Starting today, Delta SkyMiles Reserve and Reserve Business Card cardholders can request the 747 card by contacting Amex by phone or through its app. The limited-edition card will be available through August 3 as supplies last. It'll also be available to new customers applying for the card, which has a $550 annual fee — and right now, there's a sign-up bonus that includes 50,000 SkyMiles and 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) if you spend $3,000 in your first three months of use. Perks associated with the card include access to Delta Sky Clubs and American Express Centurion Lounges, a free round-trip companion certificate, and complimentary upgrades (with enhanced upgrade priority for Medallion members), which make the card ideal for Delta frequent flyers.
"I would say [get] it quick!" Anthony Cirri, executive vice president of global cobranding at American Express, told T+L. "We anticipate high demand."