Don’t bother with stainless steel or titanium. For one of its credit cards with Delta Air Lines Inc., American Express Co. is now using metal from a retired airplane.
Plane No. 6307, which spent more than 116,000 hours in the air and flew 68 million miles over its 27-year career, was utilized to create a new, limited-edition version of the credit-card giant’s Delta SkyMiles Reserve cards. Even though the jet’s average speed would be around 564 miles per hour, the most difficult component of the endeavor, according to AmEx, was ensuring that the metal could withstand the turbulence of being inside customers’ wallets.
This metal was made to fly and it’s actually softer than you think, said Jon Gantman, senior vice president and general manager of cobrand-product management at New York-based AmEx. It’s very different from banging around in your wallet.
According to Gantman, Delta and AmEx began playing with the notion of putting plane metal in their cards three years ago. Even when the two firms updated the $550-a-year Reserve card in 2020, with additional advantages like access to AmEx’s Centurion Lounges and more points per dollar spent on Delta purchases, they were still seeking for ways to create the unique version of the physical card.
This is where Delta Ship No. 6307 enters the picture. Since its retirement in 2017, the plane had been resting in the airline’s “boneyard” in the Arizona deserts, where the arid climate aids in the preservation of aircraft.
After Gantman and his team received approval for the proposal, a team of metalworkers disassembled the plane and partitioned off the aluminum skin to be used for the card.
The metal was ready to be used for cards once it had been stripped of paint, cleaned, and treated. The card was then given a polymer-print covering to preserve the aluminum and ensure that it would last in the wallets of customers.
This card will not get beat up, Gantman said. It’s perfectly sound and durable.
During its nearly three decades of service, No. 6307 was responsible for a variety of tasks, including evacuating citizens of Florida during Hurricane Irma and providing military transport. The plane completed 14,100 flights in total.
It’s a card for people who love to fly, Gantman said. It’s truly a piece of aviation history.
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