EL AL is an airline that’s in the process of nicely improving, as they take delivery of their first Boeing 787 shortly, which features a new business class product, as well as the addition of premium economy. EL AL will first fly the plane to London, Newark, and Hong Kong.
They’re an airline that has been on my radar, and I have plans to fly them in the coming months once they take delivery of their new 787s. However, up until now there haven’t been many practical ways to redeem miles on them. American and EL AL used to have a partnership, though that was discontinued as of November 2014.
The EL AL Matmid program is an Amex Membership Rewards transfer partner, so booking directly through EL AL is in many cases the best way to redeem miles on them. But it looks like there’s a decent new option.
AusBT notes that you can now redeem Qantas points for travel in EL AL first & business class. Previously you could just redeem Qantas points for EL AL economy, so this is a very nice improvement. However, unfortunately you can only redeem Qantas points for travel on EL AL to certain regions, including Asia and Europe. You can’t redeem Qantas points for travel on EL AL between North America and Israel.
Remember that Qantas Frequent Flyer is a Citi ThankYou transfer partner, so that’s a practical way that many can earn those points.
So, how’s the pricing? Just to give a few examples, Qantas charges the following number of points for travel on EL AL (one-way):
- Tel Aviv to Bangkok or Beijing — 35,000 miles economy, 65,000 miles business, 95,000 miles first
- Tel Aviv to Hong Kong — 42,000 miles economy, 78,000 miles business
- Tel Aviv to London — 20,000 miles economy, 38,000 miles business, 56,000 miles first
How does that compare to EL AL’s own redemption rates? First of all, EL AL uses a different points system. For example, Amex Membership Rewards points convert into Matmid Club points at a 1,000:20 ratio. Furthermore, if you transfer at least 5,000 points to EL AL you become an Executive Member, which gets you discounted award redemptions.
With that in mind, let me share redemption rates in terms of Membership Rewards points, since that’s more of an apples-to-apples comparison (if you want to know the number of Matmid Club points required, just divide the below by 50):
- Tel Aviv to Bangkok — 45,000 miles economy, 100,000 miles business, 162,500 miles first
- Tel Aviv to Beijing — 30,000 miles economy, 100,000 miles business
- Tel Aviv to Hong Kong — 45,000 miles economy, 115,000 miles business
- Tel Aviv to London — 17,500 miles economy, 47,500 miles business, 90,000 miles first
Usually Qantas’ frequent flyer program is lousy, though as you can see, the redemption rates through Qantas for premium cabin travel on EL AL are significantly better than EL AL’s own program.
In first class we’re talking about a difference of 162,500 miles vs. 95,000 miles for first class to Bangkok, and 78,000 miles vs. 115,000 miles for business class to Hong Kong.
If I’m looking to redeem points for a premium cabin ticket on EL AL, this is certainly how I’d do it. It’s just too bad that they don’t allow redemptions between North America and Israel.