In 2018, Delta Air Lines retired the last of its Boeing 747s—the iconic wide-body jets that, from their first flights in 1969, forever changed the scale and magnitude of commercial air travel.
The airline sent most of its decommissioned fleet to boneyards in Arizona, California, and New Mexico—save for ship 6301, the first Delta 747-400 to ever take flight, which today comprises the immersive 747 Experience at the Delta Flight Museum in Atlanta. For aircraft aficionados still nostalgic for the “Queen of the Sky,” today the airline, in partnership with American Express, is announcing a limited-edition run of credit cards made from metal cut from Delta ship 6307— the first-ever credit card upcycled from a decommissioned 747.
“You think about the journeys this plane took, the people who flew on it, the stories that were told over 68 million miles flown,” says Jon Gantman, SVP and GM, cobrand product management at American Express. “It’s a plane that gave military transport to service men and women. It evacuated Florida during Hurricane Irma. This is a piece of aviation history that our customers will now have a chance to carry in their wallets.”
The latest in a 25-year travel rewards card partnership between American Express and Delta, the limited-edition offering of Delta SkyMiles Reserve and Reserve Business cards was crafted from metal from the exterior of the plane, which was retired in 2017. The harvested aluminum—which, along with carbon composites, titanium, and steel make up a typical fuselage and wing spars—was affixed to a stainless steel layer to create a strong and durable card. A typical non-airplane American Express metal card is made of stainless steel and polymers.
“Taking a 747, which many people are extremely sentimental about, and creating a card that meets Amex standards for quality, durability, and use was extremely challenging,” says Andrew Gaddis, vice president of global card issuance at American Express. “Aluminum alloys are softer than you might think and airplane metal has lots of blemishes and shows scratches readily. In the end, we affixed the 747 metal to a much harder stainless-steel layer, so that the cards would maintain integrity, shape, and function.”
The result? A collector-worthy credit card—25% of which is culled straight from the annals of aviation history—available through August 3, or until supplies run out. This is the latest special-edition metal card American Express has issued this year; in January, the company partnered with artists Julie Mehretu and Kehinde Wiley on platinum card designs.