The Amex card with a $1.1 billion limit, Marriott sets world’s fastest Bonvoy record and why airplane mode’s a scam (Saturday Selection)


Delta has an Amex with a $1.1 billion limit, Cathay teams up with Marriott for the World’s Fastest Bonvoy and why airplane mode is a…”scam?” All that and more in this week’s Saturday Selection, our weekly round-up of interesting tidbits from around the interwebs (links to each article are embedded in the titles).

Delta has the highest limit Amex card in the world

Sergio, Delta’s head of fuel purchasing

Last year, during a fairly ho-hum investor call, Delta CEO Ed Bastion casually dropped the tidbit that the annual amount of purchases that flows through Delta’s suite of American Express cards is equivalent to ~1% of total US gross domestic product (GDP). If true, that means that around $270 billion is charged to Delta cards each year, a lot of cheddar no matter how you slice it. Turns out Delta itself may be responsible for a decent chunk of that, as the airline recently disclosed that it uses an Amex charge card for all of its fuel and crude oil purchases. Like all Amex charge cards, this one has to paid in full monthly, but has an elevated limit of $1.1 billion. Delta evidently maxes this monthly limit out on occasion, meaning that they could be spending somewhere north of $10 billion each year on one Amex card…almost enough to hit Delta Diamond.

Is airplane mode a scam?

There’s probably no more frequently disregarded travel instruction than, “please pause what you’re doing and listen to a short safety announcement.” That said, a close second would be, “please put your devices into airplane mode.” I always think it’s hilarious to see rows of grown men and women scrambling mid-text to hide their unairplane-moded devices as the flight attendants walk through the cabin pre-departure (PSA: they know you’re doing it). Reminds me a little bit of kindergarten. To be fair, we’ve all heard that airplane mode is meaningless, and a recent article from Gizmodo goes into the reasons why. So meaningless, in fact, that Europe hasn’t required it since 2022. Gizmodo says that, far from protecting airline electrical systems, the real reason it’s still banned is that “airlines think people won’t stop yapping on their cell phones during flights, leading to more instances of air rage.” Does that make it a scam? I’m not sure I’d go that far, but Points with a Crew thinks so…and it definitely gives the airplane mode conscientious objectors fuel for their abstaining fire.

Cathay and Marriott set record for world’s shortest status match promo 

What crazy thing did Marriott Bonvoy? On Febrary 26th, Marriott and Cathay Pacific announced a new “strategic partnership” that would offer “enriched travel benefits,” including the opportunity for reciprocal status matching. The newly strategic pair even released that handy little chart pictured above, which was very clear and well put-together (meaning it was probably made by the Cathay folks). In any event, over at Frequent Miler headquarters we were gearing up to write a post about the development, combing through the terms and conditions to figure out if this meant that we finally got free breakfast at a Courtyard. By the time we put fingers to keyboards, the news broke that the status match was now closed, mere hours after it had launched. It’s hard to know whether or not there was a cap on total matches that was met in less time than it takes Cathay to cross the Pacific, or if Marriott was using this as another opportunity to prove that it’s Lucy and we’re Charlie Brown. Regardless, Marriott and Cathay now share the confirmed world record for the World’s Fastest Bonvoy. Travel on Points tells the whole story in the linked post.

How to use your own wireless headphones for inflight entertainment

I’ve run across my share of lackadaisically cleaned airline headphones over the years. There’s something particularly chilling about having to manage a previous passenger’s ear gunk; thankfully it was much more common back in the stones ages, when all passengers watched the same movie on shared, drop down screens. These days, it’s less of an issue on domestic flights since most folks use their own devices, usually connected to their own wireless headphones or earbuds as well. But what about when you’re traveling internationally or on a flight with inflight entertainment systems (IFE)? Most of us don’t carry wired headphones anymore and IFEs are almost never compatible with our wireless earbuds/phones. Luckily, there are many handy products that serve as a bluetooth transmitter when plugged into a standard headphone jack. A bonus is that these devices can be used as splitters as well, allowing family members and/or kids to listen to the same audio at the same time on one device. Johnny Jet talks about one of these transmitters that he likes in the linked post, but you can also find a ton of different options on Amazon.

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I wonder if that card collects points.


Gave my wife an AirFly Bluetooth unit and she loves it. Especially no more wires and the connection to her hearing aids. Bought it in white which stands out and less likely to be forgotten.

Mark Steinke

Tim – Airplane mode isn’t an FAA requirement, it’s an FCC requirement. Hopping between cell towers so fast messes up some providers’ systems. Using wi-fi for calls is frowned upon because it would likely suck too much bandwidth from the plane’s wi-fi system and passengers would not be happy. Fact checking (rather than just re-reporting) helps credibility.

Dan @ Points With a Crew

Thanks for the link in the airplane mode section – but I’m not Your Mileage May Vary!! 🙂


I’m a pilot and the folks up front regularly forget to turn their phones off. On leg #4, up and and down, up and down, it happens. The last time I heard interference was about the last time you probably heard gsm chirp on your clock radio.

Thing is, you don’t have signal up there so it’s pretty useless to keep it on anyway.

Last edited 1 month ago by Joe

Not all AMEX cards have to be paid off monthly. I have 2 and neither require it Any that previously did can now use “pay over time.” So technically, they’re no longer considered ” charge” cards.


Tim … my husband is an airline pilot and says this is NOT a scam!! Please retract your scam statement! Our phones absolutely block the radio signals the pilots use to communicate with air traffic control, their companies and other aircraft.

Jim B

no it doesn’t. I’m a communications engineer and unless your phone is on a 2G/3G network, most of which have been sunsetted and aren’t supported by major carriers around the world (even less so if you can read this on your phone), your phone having its radios on is not going to interfere with any equipment used by the flight crew.


I switch to airplane mode, but merely to save my phone battery. Supposedly having it constantly searching for a cell signal eats battery life.


That one is true – when a phone has no or weak signal it will boost transmitted power to attempt to find and maintain connection with a more distant tower.