Flying Round-Trip To Israel On Air Berlin For 40K Starwood Or 47K American Express Membership Rewards Plus $81 Tax: A Tutorial

Update #2: Commenter “Baruch” was able to call BA and get them to book a ticket to Israel with an overnight connection in Germany, thereby saving the extra taxes incurred when booking each leg on separate tickets.

Update: I’ve added information for business class (from 50K Avios+$20 tax one-way) in the addendum at the end of this post.

Related posts:

-Get A 30% Bonus When You Transfer American Express Membership Rewards Points Into British Airways Avios! (Transfers must be initiated by tomorrow, 01/14!)
-Convert 20,000 Starpoints Into 31,250 British Airways Avios (Transfers must be initiated by today, 01/13!)
-Chase British Airways Visa-Get 50,000 bonus Avios for spending $1,000, an additional 25,000 bonus Avios for spending $10,000 in 12 months, another 25,000 Avios for spending $20,000 in 12 months, an award companion cert for spending $30,000 in a year, plus 1.25 Avios per dollar spent everywhere.
-Which Miles To Use To Fly To Israel?
-BA.com Overhauls Their Award Search Engine!
-Getting To Israel On The Cheap With BA Avios And Air Berlin
-Save $400 On Fuel Surcharges To Israel By Booking Avios Rewards Via Iberia Instead Of British Airways!
-Booking With Avios? Check Those Surrounding Airports!
-Using BA Miles To Fly In Business Class For An 80 Minute Flight Can Make Sense.
-Flying With An Infant With Miles In Business Or First Class? Start Collecting Air Canada Miles Or British Airways Avios
-Short-Haul Flights: BA Avios Versus LAN Lanpass.
-BA Miles Are Now Avios…For Better Or For Worse.

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I’ve blogged numerous times about redeeming British Airways Avios for travel on Air Berlin and broke the news that BA stopped charging fuel surcharges on Air Berlin in September.

People have had trouble finding the Air Berlin flights on BA.com so hopefully this article will empower those people to hone their searching skills.

I’m posting this now so that people will be able to lock in these rates via the expiring AMEX and Starwood transfer promotions.  Even if you don’t have enough points you can borrow either of those point currencies from AMEX of you can read on to learn about the valus of Avios+Cash options.  The AMEX and Starwood promotions will both likely be back at some point in the future, but if you’re looking to travel in the next few months and the Air Berlin flights work for you then it will make sense to lock those promotion now.

More after the jump…


British Airways charges Avios based on the length of each segment (with some exceptions) as follows:

So if you plugin JFK-LHR and LHR-TLV into the Great Circle Mapper you’ll see that JFK-London is 3,451 miles apart and therefore it costs 20,000 Avios each way in coach and London-Tel Aviv is a 2,233 mile journey and therefore it costs 12,500 Avios each way in coach.  Of course if you travel via London you’ll also be hit up for hundreds and hundreds of dollars in fuel surcharges on top of the 65,000 Avios for the round-trip flight in coach, which is why that’s such a terrible deal.

Now plugin JFK to TXL or DUS and you’ll see that flights from JFK to Berlin or Dusseldorf are under 4,000 miles in distance as well, and are therefore 20,000 Avios each way.  However because flights from TXL or DUS to TLV are under 2,000 miles those flights only cost 10,000 Avios each way.  Thus a round-trip from JFK to Tel Aviv via Berlin or Dusseldorf on Air Berlin is just 60,000 Avios.  There are no fuel surcharges, just $81 in government taxes.

(The same logic applies to domestic flights, a set price is charged by the leg, thus a flight from NYC to Cleveland, Detroit, Montreal, or Toronto is 4,500 Avios each way, a flight from NYC to Miami is 7,500 Avios, while a flight from NYC to Miami via Cleveland (regardless if you are in Cleveland for 30 minutes or 6 months) will be 12,000 Avios.  A flight from LA to Maui is 12,500 Avios while a flight from NYC to Maui via LA will be 25,000 Avios or from NYC to Maui via Dallas will be 30,000 Avios.   Plus no fuel surcharges apply on LAN and on AA flights wholly within the Western Hemisphere.  Personally I attain more bang for my buck from these domestic flights, but for people who want to use their points to go to Israel, read on.)

Now the issues with finding these flights are that not always does Air Berlin have valid connections from Tel Aviv to JFK and not always do they have award space.

My preferred way of searching for OneWorld flights is on AA.com. AA does not yet have all OneWorld carriers, but they do search Air Berlin, British Airways, Finnair, and Qantas. It can also search for non-OneWorld airlines Alaska and Hawaiian. Alaska is particularly useful as BA.com won’t pull up Alaska flights, you need to call in to book those, so searching AA.com first really helps out there.  For other airlines not supported by AA.com I search on sites like Qantas or Cathay Pacific.

In our case you will want to search for award flights from JFK-DUS, JFK-TXL, DUS-TLV, and TXL-TLV.

Let’s take 06/02-06/10 as our baseline example.  The cheapest fare for that date is $994 but that’s on a subpar airline via Russia.  The cheapest option on a “normal” airline is Air Berlin for $1,130.  The cheapest nonstop is $1,238.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 1: Open AA.com 2 different browsers (IE, Chrome, Firefox, etc).  Plugin JFK-DUS on one and DUS-TLV on the other along with your dates.  Be sure to check the box to “Redeem AAdvantage miles.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 2: You will now see the award calendar.  Click to open the full calendar.  Also select non-stop only so that you will only view Air Berlin flights and not flights on other airlines that would carry a fuel surcharge when using BA Avios.

By comparing these 2 calendars in different browsers you can see which dates to choose.  Select June 2-June 10 for the JFK-DUS browser and June 3-June 10 for the DUS-TLV browser as it takes an overnight flight to get from JFK-DUS but not from TLV-DUS.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 3: Compare the outbound flights to see if they work out without requiring you to spend a night in Germany.  Just eyeballing it this looks great with a 1:15 connection in DUS.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 4: Compare the return flights to see if they work out without requiring you to spend a night in Germany. Unfortunately in this case it would require an overnight in DUS as the flight leaves TLV at night.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 5: Start again from Step 1 and use JFK-TXL and TXL-TLV.  Then compare the return flights to see if they work out without requiring you to spend a night in Germany. This time the times work out.  Beware that Air Berlin is very inconsistent with the flight times and on different dates and seasons they have very different schedules.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 6: Now that we’ve found a valid date we’re ready to go to BA.com to book it!  Login to your Executive Club membership and in the bottom left will be this search engine box.  Just search from JFK-TLV with the dates we previous verified, June 2-June 10 and then be sure to select “Book with Avios”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 7: Skip by this screen and press continue.  Asking for a stopover in London would subject you to extra miles and fuel surcharges.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 8: BA.com sticks the best option, the Air Berlin flight via DUS with a 1:15 connection, all the way at the bottom under much worse options.  No matter, scroll down and select it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 9:  For the return flight there’s just the option we found via Berlin.  Grab it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 10: You’ve made it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 11: Consider the cash and Avios options.  For $390 you can save 30,000 Avios, which is like buying Avios at 1.3 cents each

The value:

A comparable flight for our dates would be $1,130.

If you use 40K SPG and $81 that means 40K SPG is saving you $1,049, or a value of 2.62 cents per Starpoint.  If you do the cash and points offer for 30K Avios and thus only transfer 20K SPG and pay $471.29 then the 20K SPG has saved you $659 or a value of 3.29 cents per Starpoint.

If you use 47K AMEX MR and $81 that means 47K AMEX MR is saving you $1,049, or a value of 2.23 cents per AMEX MR point.  If you do the cash and points offer for 30K Avios and thus only transfer 24K AMEX MR and pay $471.29 then the 24K AMEX MR has saved you $659 or a value of 2.75 cents per AMEX MR point.

This is not factoring for the miles you could have had if you paid $1,130 for Air Berlin flight. However because the flight is in O and P class which are considered “deeply discounted” by both AA and by BA it would only earn 25% of the flown 11,451 round-trip miles, or just 2,745  AAdvantage miles or BA Avios.

A few more things are worth mentioning:

-You can of course stay overnight in Berlin or Dusseldorf and that would make finding awards significantly easier.  You would have to book 2 separate tickets though, one ticket for JFK-TXL-JFK and one for TXL-TLV-TXL for example.  The Avios required would still be 60,000 but you would be subject to some additional German taxes for staying there overnight.

-This works for business class too. Using the same search logic as above I found a one-way flight from JFK to Tel Aviv via Dusseldorf in business class for 50,000 Avios + $20 tax on June 16th. Business class is only available on the overseas flight to Dusseldorf however.

-Finally, yes you can use ITA to search for dates where Air Berlin flies from JFK-TLV with good connections.  See here for how to use codes and then use code:
AB+ / maxconnect 300
If people want I can make another post detailing that process.

Find a mistake? Have feedback? Want to see more or fewer posts like this? Sounds off in the comments!

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72 Responses to “Flying Round-Trip To Israel On Air Berlin For 40K Starwood Or 47K American Express Membership Rewards Plus $81 Tax: A Tutorial”

  1. Jack Says:
    1

    WOW!! Dan your great!!!

    ReplyReply
  2. Jack Says:
    2

    crystal clear! Thank you much!

    ReplyReply
  3. Jack Says:
    3

    I guess there is more then 1 Jack… lol

    ReplyReply
  4. Joey Says:
    4

    Yup. Did two sep flights. JFK-TXL TXL-TLV to go one way in June. Did this a couple weeks ago. Land in TXL 7:15 am. Depart TXL around 10:30pm gonna spend the whole day there. Good thing this is for a boys vacation and leaving the wife and kids at home. Othe wise I don’t think I would do such a long stop over.
    I have the grand Weston booked for 10k points for the day if we want to rest up. May cancel it though.
    The way back I am burning some UA miles.
    Books three tix this way.

    ReplyReply
  5. abe Says:
    5

    dan does this offer apply also from TLV to JFK round trip..??

    ReplyReply
  6. Dan Says:
    6

    @Jack:
    @Jack:
    Thanks Jacks!

    @Jack:
    Great Jacks think alike?

    @Joey:
    Did you search through DUS to see if you can avoid that?

    @abe:
    Yes!
    You can book one-way in either direction.

    ReplyReply
  7. yanky Says:
    7

    Hi I want to open a starwood card does amex have a number like chase for Reconsideration. ?

    ReplyReply
  8. Dan Says:
    8

    @yanky:
    Starwood card links and Recon numbers can be found here:
    http://www.dansdeals.com/forums/index.php?topic=8028.0

    ReplyReply
  9. Joey Says:
    9

    I actually wanted a stop over for the day. Yes 15 hours may be a drop long, but it’s ok.
    A stop over that long.. Ill prob have to get my bags no? Is there a place to leave it in the airport anybody know?

    ReplyReply
  10. Anonymous Says:
    10

    @Joey: If you do have to get your bags (since its 2 sep flights) most European airports have a luggage storage place – either big lockers or for very large luggage, a secure room. (I did it in zurich). check the airport website

    ReplyReply
  11. Meir Says:
    11

    Dan
    A 1 hr and 15 minute stop over in Dusseldorf seems a bit short and risky. What happens if the connecting plane is missed ?

    ReplyReply
  12. Dan Says:
    12

    @Meir:
    DUS is a small airport. The minimum connect time on international flights is just 35 minutes, so this exceeds the minimum by 40 minutes.

    There is a 5 hour connection as well though, as you can see from the pictures.

    ReplyReply
  13. chilzech Says:
    13

    Great post, please more on the matrix search.

    ReplyReply
  14. chilzech Says:
    14

    Am I doing something wrong? Feb March and April are showing nothing on ITA. (TLV-JFK)

    ReplyReply
  15. sammy n Says:
    15

    how many ba points business class ticket one way from tlv to ewr be?

    ReplyReply
  16. A Frieds Says:
    16

    IS air berlin a trustworthy airline- I heard that there is a potential bankruptcy proceeding

    ReplyReply
  17. mr g Says:
    17

    DAN i need to spend 3000 on amex this week , if i get gift card from them will count towards it ?

    ReplyReply
  18. Sarah.telaviv Says:
    18

    Please explain how to use the codes to find flights in ITA

    ReplyReply
  19. Chaim Says:
    19

    Dan
    I don’t see Air Berlin options for the return trip in August, is that because it is too far off. I am hesitant to convert miles for a one way trip without knowing that I will be able to book something for the way back, thoughts?

    ReplyReply
  20. Dave Says:
    20

    Are there any change/cancellation fees?

    Also, any ideas on how baggage fees work? Being that there is a stop over, do I have to pay double?

    Thanks

    ReplyReply
  21. Shayt Says:
    21

    Is the BA card churnable? I closed mine way over a year ago. Will I still get the bonus miles if I open a new one?

    Thanks.

    ReplyReply
  22. Robert Says:
    22

    If I have Amex points and starwood points, which would be better to use for this?

    ReplyReply
  23. Europe Says:
    23

    I’m trying to do this from Vienna to JFK, but it’s only showing the British Airways flights. I have checked and there is availability on Air Berlin, but since there are so many BA options, they aren’t showing any other airlines. Any way around this?

    ReplyReply
  24. Dave Says:
    24

    How many spg points would I need to transfer for business class tickets?

    How long does it take for SPG to transfer?

    ReplyReply
  25. Dan Says:
    25

    @chilzech:
    What exactly are you searching?

    @mr g:
    Amazon Payments, Vanilla/Bluebird, lots of good options.

    @Chaim:
    Using the method outlined in this post it took me 2 minutes to find TLV-TXL-JFK on 08/25.

    But summer travel will always be trickier.

    @Dave:
    Change fees with BA are about $40.
    You don’t pick up your luggage at European stopovers, it’s checked through.

    @Shayt:
    Apply for the new card with a mileage number blank.

    @Robert:
    Depends on how you value each of them.

    @Europe:
    This post has nothing to do with Vienna.

    @Dave:
    Everything is in the post. For more info just search for yourself to see requirements for your dates.

    A SPG transfer can take anywhere from 1 to 12 days.
    AMEX transfers are instant.

    ReplyReply
  26. david g. Says:
    26

    great deal I value ba points(my personal opinion) @ 1.2 so these tix cost $801.29

    ReplyReply
  27. Chaim Says:
    27

    Thanks Dan, I can find the flight on AA.com but it doesn’t show up on Britsh airways site so that I can’s book. Thanks for the help though.

    ReplyReply
  28. Dan Says:
    28

    @Chaim:
    For what dates?
    My 08/25 example is definitely going to show up there.

    ReplyReply
  29. justin Says:
    29

    DAN,
    Great advice.By the way Amex denies any knowledge of miles/points acumulation on BLUEBIRD.How to do it?

    ReplyReply
  30. MEIR Says:
    30

    DAN
    What happens if the connection is missed, being that Air Berlin has flights from DUS to TlV at most only once a day

    ReplyReply
  31. miles Says:
    31

    Great post do more like this
    (AB, AB / maxconnect 300) whats the 2 AB

    ReplyReply
  32. mark Says:
    32

    I found but with a 100 fee just the RT to TXL going 3/10 and coming back 3/19

    ReplyReply
  33. Chaim Says:
    33

    Any suggestions for getting to Israel from Calgary (YYC) without fuel surcharges? Thanks

    ReplyReply
  34. gavaldig Says:
    34

    wow Dan your the man, your the best

    ReplyReply
  35. sim Says:
    35

    Very helpful, thanks

    ReplyReply
  36. Yank Says:
    36

    @justin

    You need to get your head examined.

    ReplyReply
  37. ballabus Says:
    37

    @dan

    Found great flights for succos on AA.com, but can’t find them on BA.

    JFK – TXL – CGN on 9/16, then CGN-TLV on 9/16.

    Return is TLV-CGN on 9/30, then CGN-TXL-JFK on 9/30.

    If we can’t book this through BA.com, what’s the next best option?

    ReplyReply
  38. Dan Says:
    38

    @ballabus:
    Book JFK-CGN and CGN-TLV separately.
    They can check your bags through to TLV even on sep tickets.

    ReplyReply
  39. Mendel Says:
    39

    Can this work From Israel To NY?
    If not what is the best deal for round trip from Israel to NY

    ReplyReply
  40. Dan Says:
    40

    @Mendel:
    Please read the previous comments.

    ReplyReply
  41. AMZ450 Says:
    41

    great post Dan!! very clear
    how about more posts like these!!!
    :-)

    ReplyReply
  42. MJ Says:
    42

    What is it like flying Air Berlin? Planes are old or new? Any other details appreciated.
    MJ

    ReplyReply
  43. sam Says:
    43

    Very clear instructions. Thanks. Could you do a similar post on how to get from NY/Chicago/LAX to Sydney or Melbourne — either regular or business class? thanks. I will look for it.

    ReplyReply
  44. yitz Says:
    44

    dan you mentioned to mr g that he could use amazon payments to meet spending threshold on amex cards. doesnt this trigger (or risk triggering) an f/r?

    ReplyReply
  45. Kayla Says:
    45

    I have AMEX starwood how do I get the deal?

    ReplyReply
  46. abe Says:
    46

    TO TOP IT OFF YOU CAN TAKE 2 SUIT CASES

    ReplyReply
  47. abe Says:
    47

    its gavaldig i got the air berlin ticket. do you know if i can trensfer us bank points to avios points

    ReplyReply
  48. moshe Says:
    48

    @dan just looked up on aa from jfk to zrh feb 10 2013 return feb 18 2013 and they have air berlin available but on BA they dont show it at all, Why?

    ReplyReply
  49. Dan Says:
    49

    @abe:
    No.

    @moshe:
    Book the Germany-Zurich segment separately.

    ReplyReply
  50. moshe Says:
    50

    tnx @dan

    ReplyReply
  51. Dc Says:
    51

    Spg to Avios bonus still available by any Chance?

    ReplyReply
  52. shlmazal Says:
    52

    when i make the first part of the trip from tlv- dus it says 20k(im making a one way flight)

    ReplyReply
  53. Baruch Says:
    53

    Thanks Dan, i just booked 4 tickets on air berlin with avios 1/20 jfk-dus-tlv returning 1/28 tlv-dus-jfk with an overnight stop on the 28th in Dusseldorf (Satmar Wedding) the problem was that BA wouldn’t give me the return online as a connection, i guess because of the overnight layover, so i tried what you advised to make 2 separate round trips but it came out to an additional $100 per ticket so i tried my luck and called BA and they gladly did it as a 1 round trip with a surcharge of only $80.03 saving me the $100 extra per ticket
    Thanks again Dan

    ReplyReply
  54. Dan Says:
    54

    @Baruch:
    Well done!

    ReplyReply
  55. Kayla Says:
    55

    I cant seem to find the deal. I looked an AA for Feb 13-18 JFK to TLV. I did JFK-DUS than DUS TLV. Any advice? Thank you.

    ReplyReply
  56. Baruch Says:
    56

    @Kayla:
    There is availability on the 13th jfk-txl-tlv

    ReplyReply
  57. Kayla Says:
    57

    Thank you! through aa.com?

    ReplyReply
  58. Kayla Says:
    58

    It is coming up with a $700 fee because there is a stop in LHR on the way to txl. Thank you!

    ReplyReply
  59. orit Says:
    59

    i need to take air canada from bwi to israel in the summer. how\when can i get a good deal with them?
    thank you

    ReplyReply
  60. Davidd Says:
    60

    Dan you mentioned you can use ITA matrix for Air Berlin flights only as well instead of using AA website but one problem how do you know that the flights ITA Matrix shows are actually going to be available for Avios rewards flights?

    ReplyReply
  61. yciner Says:
    61

    Thanks Dan, would this work equally well from LAX to Tel Aviv? If I have a companion ticket on BA, will they allow me to use my BA miles and companion ticket on either Air berlin or Iberia? Thanks.

    ReplyReply
  62. mose Says:
    62

    great prog but txl or dus wont work with my dates on one way any other places that wont get me fuel charges with only one stop thanks

    ReplyReply
  63. Children 2 and 4 Says:
    63

    Could it be there is no option on the NEW aa.com to search for non stop flights only on award travel options

    ReplyReply
  64. Dan Says:
    64

    @Children 2 and 4:
    It’s still there when you are looking at the month-long award search if it’s a route served by nonstop flights.

    ReplyReply
  65. Avraham S Says:
    65

    Thanks Dan, Got one trip booked End of may return in June and another in October. I am doing it originating in Tel Aviv. No problem.
    Two checked bags is a nice bonus.
    Paid fares only get one checked bag unless you get the higher unrestricted fare.

    Can I add a leg to get me to Miami or Atlanta?
    I am leaving from TLV-Berlin-Jfk + would like Miami
    and perhaps open jaw, coming back from ATL-JFK-Dusseldorf-TLV.
    The online system did not show any way to do this.

    ReplyReply
  66. A Says:
    66

    could i schedule a flight, that there is only 30 min. from arrival (nyc-dus) to depart. (dus-tlv), any experiences, both on ab

    ReplyReply
  67. E Says:
    67

    if stop over 15 hours like someone mentioned, afaik:
    1. you must take your luggage out, cant leave it behind, will not be re checked in for an overnight
    2. when connecting, since new check in of luggage, may be subject to aeurpean restrictions, and pay hefty for luggage .

    ReplyReply
  68. JG Says:
    68

    Hey Dan, When I try to do the same the menus, options and ouputs display quite differently on those websites you present. Can you please confirm that this is stil avialable. I’m trying to use Avios points to get to Israel with no surcharges. Thanks.

    ReplyReply
  69. Max Says:
    69

    Hi thanks for all your great posts, especially travel tips and awards bookings!!I found availability on AA through Dus but it is not coming up on BA even in separate segments. Any tips should I call them?

    ReplyReply
  70. kyle Says:
    70

    @Max: I have the same problem. did you get anywhere?

    ReplyReply
  71. Leonard Says:
    71

    Hi Dan,

    Following your advice and now having lots of Avios, I tried to follow this posting carefully. I am trying to book a one way from TLV-NYC on about Feb 26.

    Although flights on AB appear on the AA website (It is cheaper to book TLV-DUS [20K] + DUS-JFK [20K] than TLV-JFK [45K])they do not appear when I checked on the BA site. Only two flights appeared on BA, and the only economy choice was 32,500 Avios + $298, with overnight in LHR. I could not figure out how to get BA to book on AB.

    I also wonder whether you think this is as good a deal as just booking on UA for 40K points + $48 flying via Toronto, given the coming UA devaluation.

    Thanks so much fo rbeing an inspiration to us all

    ReplyReply
  72. Tova Says:
    72

    Dan, can you find anything roundtrip deals from Israel to NYC/WAS for two weeks in February? Thank you!

    ReplyReply

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