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Getting To Israel Using Starwood Starpoints, 2016 Edition

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-Earn Starpoints on the Starwood Consumer AMEX and the Starwood Business AMEXYou can also use your Starpoints to stay free at the the highly rated Sheraton Tel Aviv and later this year at the W Tel Aviv – Jaffa which is scheduled to open on November 1st. With a Starwood business card you’ll even get free lounge access and meals at the Sheraton Tel Aviv! 
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Related post: The Ultimate Israel Mileage Award Chart (2015)
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The Starwood card is an excellent card for general spending. You can use just a couple thousand points for free hotel nights or transfer points into the mileage programs of 34 different airlines with a 25% transfer bonus. If you are transferring points you may also want to consider Starwood’s Nights & Flights option where you can save 8,000 points on a mileage transfer plus a 5 night stay in a category 3 or 4 hotel.

To make a mileage transfer just login to your Starwood account at SPG.com. If you have never made an account at SPG.com you may need to set one up. Locate your SPG number on the Starwood AMEX statement where it lists how many points you earned in the past month and for the year. Then you can setup an SPG.com account. Click here to transfer Starpoints into airline miles. Note that transfers can take a few days to complete.

The rates in this post are for flights from NYC to Tel Aviv unless otherwise noted.

Read more about using Starpoints to fly to Israel after the jump:

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Tips for finding saver award availability:

Award tickets to Israel are always tough, though that’s a function of it being an expensive route to fly compared to the distance of the flight.

1. Check availability at least daily (if not more often) as award seats can come and go quickly.

2. Be willing to connect in Europe for much better availability. Flights on low cost carriers from Europe to Israel can also be dirt cheap and it can make sense to use miles to get to Europe and then buy a flight to Israel from there.

3. If you are ready to fly on a whim airlines often open up saver awards the day of or the day before a flight. Otherwise a month in advance is a typical sweet spot.

4. Realize that not all partners will be displayed online and you need to do your own research on partner sites and/or call to find partner availability. For example AA.com won’t show Iberia flights, BA.com won’t show Aer Lingus flights, United.com won’t show Singapore flights, etc.

5. Airline search engines are only so powerful. Use free stopovers and open-jaws to your advantage. If you are flying from somewhere besides NYC just search from NYC-Tel Aviv instead of from Los Angeles to Tel Aviv. You can always piece together an award by searching for Los Angeles-NYC separately then NYC-Tel Aviv, especially if you are willing to have a long connection, change airports in NYC, or are willing to stay overnight in NYC.

Air Berlin is one of the least expensive ways to get to Tel Aviv using British Airways Avios due to lack of fuel surcharges. If you are willing to stopover for a night in Berlin, Dusseldorf, or Munich then you will greatly increase the available award space. Search for nonstops from NYC to Berlin or Dusseldorf on AA.com as described here and then for nonstops from Berlin, Dusseldorf, or Munich to Tel Aviv. Then call BA to piece them together onto one itinerary. Even with a stopover the one-way cost will still be just 30K Avios.

6. The same goes for tickets from NYC. Search from other gateways, like Toronto, and piece together the flights to get there afterward. For example be willing to use Avios to get to Toronto and then use United miles to fly from Toronto-Tel Aviv, etc. Consider searching from NYC to European cities and piece together an award from Europe to Israel. You may find availability from NYC to London and then from Paris to Tel Aviv but a computer would never put that open jaw ticket together. Instead you can check out London and Paris on the way to Tel Aviv. Maybe you’ll also get to check out Venice and Rome on the way home. Sometimes you can even save miles by doing that!

7. Don’t forget to book a free domestic trailing flight anytime in the year after you arrive back to your destination. United still has free stopovers. You can fly NYC-Tel Aviv-NYC and then stopover in NYC for up to a year before continuing on to say, Anchorage, Los Angeles, or Miami for no extra miles.

8. Find award availability before transferring miles. Once they’re transferred they can’t be reversed!

9. Need help? You can post your travel dates and which miles you have in this DDF thread and ask for help. Consider offering a monetary or mileage reward to the forum member that can come up with the best award ticket to meet your needs and you may find that suggestions will come flooding in!

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Airlines that fly nonstop from North America to Israel that can be booked via Starpoints:
-Air Canada from Toronto (bookable via Star Alliance airlines)
-United from Newark or San Francisco (bookable via Star Alliance airlines)
-Delta from JFK (bookable via Skyteam airlines)
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Star Alliance:

Nonstop flights from North America include Air Canada from Toronto and United from Newark and from San Francisco. These flights all have lie-flat business class seating and have no first class.

Star Alliance offers the best availability for flights to Israel by leaps and bounds. Besides for the nonstop flights from North America there are many options via Europe in coach, business, and first class worth looking into including Swiss via Zurich, Lufthansa via Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, and Munich, Brussels via Brussels, Austrian via Vienna, Turkish via Istanbul, SAS via Copenhagen, Singapore via Frankfurt, Aegean via Athens, LOT via Warsaw, or a mix of carriers like United from Newark to one of dozens of European cities and a European carrier to Tel Aviv.
By utilizing free stopovers and open jaws the possibilities are endless if you take the time to research your options leg by leg.

You can search for Star Alliance award availability on sites like United.comAeroplan.com, and ANA.co.jp. You’ll need create an account and login to use Aeroplan or ANA’s award search.

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Note that Starpoint rates listed below are assuming that you maximize the 25% point bonus for transferring Starpoints in blocks of 20,000 points (which you may or may not be able to do depending on the number of passengers, so you may have leftover miles).

Rates listed below are for round-trip travel!

Using ANA miles, from 52,000 Starpoints.
-Miles required: 65K coach, 104K business, 195K first.
-Transfer Ratio: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 ANA miles. At a 1:1.25 ratio this means 52,000 Starpoints in coach, 83,200 Starpoints in business, or 156,000 Starpoints in first.
-Other transfer partners: AMEX Membership Rewards partner at a 1:1 ratio.
-Fuel surcharges: None on United awards.
-Mileage expiration: 3 years after they are earned regardless of activity.
-One-way awards: Not allowed.
-Online partner airline award booking: Yes.
-Stopovers: 1 allowed.
-Changes/Cancellation: ANA allows free date changes. Cancellation results in a 3,000 mile penalty.
-Expedite/Close-in fee: None.
-Infant fees: 10% of full fare.

anaa

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Using Aegean miles, from 48,000 Starpoints.
-Miles required: 60K coach, 90K business, 120K first.
-Transfer Ratio: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 ANA miles. At a 1:1.25 ratio this means 48,000 Starpoints in coach, 72,200 Starpoints in business, or 96,000 Starpoints in first.
-Other transfer partners: None.
-Fuel surcharges: None on Air Canada or United awards.
-Mileage expiration: 2 years after they are earned, extendable by crediting a Star Alliance flight.
-One-way awards: Allowed for half the amount of a round-trip.
-Online partner airline award booking: No, phone only.
-Stopovers: Not allowed.
-Changes/Cancellation: 20 Euros.
-Expedite/Close-in fee: None.
-Infant fees: 10% of full fare.

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Using Air Canada Aeroplan miles, from 64,000 Starpoints.
-Miles required: 80K coach, 165K business, 230K first.
Transfer Ratio: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 Aeroplan miles. At a 1:1.25 ratio this means the equivalent of 64,000 Starpoints in coach, 132,000 Starpoints in business, or 184,000 Starpoints in first.
-Other transfer partners: AMEX Membership Rewards partner at a 1:1 ratio.
-Fuel surcharges: If you fly on these carriers you will pay a fuel surcharge: Adria, Air Canada, ANA, Asiana, Austrian, LOT Polish, Lufthansa, TAP Portugal, and THAI.
If you fly on these carriers you will not pay a fuel surcharge: Aegean, Air China, Air India, Air New Zealand, Avianca, Brussels, COPA, Croatia, EVA, EgyptAir, Ethiopian, SAS, Singapore, South African, Swiss, Turkish, and United. Minimal fuel surcharges for LOT.
-Mileage expiration: Air Canada miles require activity every 12 months to keep them active.
-One-way awards: Allowed for half the amount of a round-trip.
-Online partner airline award booking: Yes.
-Stopovers: Air Canada generously allows for 2 free stopovers, so you can check out 2 American or European cities in addition to Tel Aviv for the same amount of miles!
-Changes/Cancellation: There is a $90 charge to change or cancel an award ticket and an effective $180 charge to cancel within 21 days of departure.
-Expedite/Close-in fee: None.
-Infant fees: Flat fee of just $50 in coach, $100 in business, and $125 in first.
-Aeroplan offers expanded award availability on Air Canada flights.

ac1

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Using Singapore miles, from 60,000 Starpoints.

-Miles required: 75K coach, 115K business, 150K first.
Transfer Ratio: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 Singapore miles. At a 1:1.25 ratio this means the equivalent of 60,000 Starpoints in coach, 92,000 Starpoints in business, or 120,000 Starpoints in first.
-Other transfer partners: AMEX Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, and Citi ThankYou partner at a 1:1 ratio.
-Fuel surcharges: None on United.
-Mileage expiration: 3 years after they are earned regardless of activity.
-One-way awards: Allowed for half the amount of a round-trip.
-Online partner airline award booking: No, phone only.
-Stopovers: 1 free stopover
-Changes/Cancellation: $20 change fee, $30 cancellation fee.
-Expedite/Close-in fee: None.
-Infant fees: 10% of full fare.
With Singapore miles you can fly on Singapore from JFK to Frankfurt in business or first(suites) class and then to Tel Aviv on Lufthansa, which you can’t do with other miles.

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Miles & More Group (Adria, Austrian, Brussels, Croatia, LOT Polish, Lufthansa, and Swiss): For departures from the USA nonstop to Tel Aviv: 80K coach, 135K business. For departures from the USA to Tel Aviv via Europe: 100K coach, 185K business, 290K first. For departures from Israel to the USA nonstop or via Europe for Miles & More accounts with an Israeli address on file: 60K coach, 105K business, 170K first.
Transfer Ratio: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 Lufthansa miles. At a 1:1.25 ratio this means rates starting at 48K Starpoints in coach, 84K Starpoints in business, or 136K Starpoints in first.
-Fuel surcharges: Apply on all airlines except LOT.
-Mileage expiration: Miles expire 36 months after they are earned regardless of activity unless you have a Lufthansa credit card.
-One-way awards: Allowed for half the amount of a round-trip.
-Online partner airline award booking: No, phone only.
-Stopovers: 2 free stopovers and 2 open jaws allowed on a round-trip.
-Changes/Cancellation: There is a $60 charge to change or cancel an award ticket.
-Expedite/Close-in fee: None.
-Infant fees: None except for airport departure taxes.
-Children ages 2-11: Receive a 25% discount on the mileage requirement on Miles & More flights.
-Miles & More offers expanded award availability on Lufthansa and Swiss business and first class.

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OneWorld:

There are no nonstop OneWorld flights between North America and Tel Aviv. Connecting flights to Israel include Air Berlin via Berlin, Dusseldorf, or Munich, BA via London, Finnair via Helsinki, Iberia via Madrid, Air Niki via Vienna, and Royal Jordanian via Amman. BA availability is good, but has high fuel surcharges.

You can check OneWorld availability on incomplete sites such as AA.comBA.com, Iberia.com, and Qantas.com. You’ll need create an account and login to use BA’s, Iberia’s or Qantas’ award search.

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Using American miles, from 64,000 Starpoints.
-Miles required: 80K coach, 140K business, 230K first.
Transfer Ratio: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 AA miles. At a 1:1.25 ratio this means 64,000 Starpoints in coach, 112,000 Starpoints in business, or 184,000 Starpoints in first.
-Fuel surcharges: Apply for flights on partners British Airways (very high) and Iberia (nominal).
-Mileage expiration: AA miles require activity every 18 months.
-One-way awards: Allowed for half the amount of a round-trip.
-Online partner airline award booking: Some partner airline awards must be booked over the phone.
-Stopovers: Not allowed, but you can book 1 or 2 stopovers in Europe by paying for US-Europe and Europe-Middle East award for 42.5K off-peak coach or 50K peak coach each way.
-Changes/Cancellation: AA allows free date and routing changes, but changes to the origin or destination city or cancellation costs $150 for non-elites.  If you cancel more than 1 ticket at a time the fee is just $25 after the $150 fee for the first ticket.
-Expedite/Close-in fee: $75 within 21 days for non-elites.
-Infant fees: 10% of full fare.

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Using BA Avios, from 44.8K Starpoints
-Avios required: 56K coach on British Airways off-peak, 60K coach on Air Berlin, 65K coach on other carriers, 140K business on Air Berlin, 162.5K business on British Airways off-peak, 221K first on British Airways off-peak, 260K first on British Airways peak
-Other transfer partners: AMEX Membership Rewards partner at a 1K:800 ratio, Chase Ultimate Rewards partner at a 1:1 ratio.
Transfer Ratio: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 BA miles. At a 1:1.25 ratio this means rates starting at 44,800 Starpoints in coach, 112,000 Starpoints in business, or 176,800 Starpoints in first.
-Fuel surcharges: Apply for all Trans-Atlantic flights except on Air Berlin and Aer Lingus.
You can drastically reduce fuel surcharges for travel on Iberia via Madrid by transferring your BA Avios into Iberia Avios. You must have your Iberia account open for 3 months before you can do such a transfer.
-Mileage expiration: BA miles require activity every 36 months.
-One-way awards: Allowed for half the amount of a round-trip.
-Online partner airline award booking: Some partners, like Aer Lingus and Alaska, are bookable via the phone only.
-Stopovers: Each leg costs additional mileage, but you can stopover at any connection city for as long as you want.
-Changes/Cancellation: $55.
-Expedite/Close-in fee: None
-Infant fees: Instead of cash, BA charges just 10% of the adult mileage required on international segments.
-More info in this post.

ba7

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Using JAL miles, from 40,000 Starpoints
-Miles required: 50K coach, 80K business, 115K first.
Transfer Ratio: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 JAL miles. At a 1:1.25 ratio this means 40,000 Starpoints in coach, 64,000 Starpoints in business, or 92,000 Starpoints in first.
-Fuel surcharges: Apply on most airlines, but not on American.
-Mileage expiration: 3 years after they are earned regardless of activity.
-One-way awards: Allowed for half the amount of a round-trip.
-Online partner airline award booking: Some partners can be booked online, others are phone-only.
-Stopovers: 2 stopovers allowed.
-Changes/Cancellation: JAL allows free date changes. Other changes or cancellation results in a $25 penalty.
-Expedite/Close-in fee: None
-Infant fees: 10% of full fare.

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Using LAN kilometers, from 53.3K Starpoints
-Miles required: JFK-AMM-TLV: 112K coach/224K business, JFK-LHR-TLV: 154K coach/308K business/385K first.
Transfer Ratio: 20,000 Starpoints=37,500 LAN kilometers. At a 1:1.875 ratio this means rates starting at 59.7K Starpoints in coach, 119.5K Starpoints in business, or 205.3K Starpoints in first.
-Fuel surcharges: None. LAN is the only airline with no fuel surcharges on BA awards.
-Mileage expiration: 3 years after they are earned unless you fly on a paid LAN flight.
-One-way awards: Not allowed
-Online partner airline award booking: Some partners can be booked online, others are phone-only.
-Stopovers: Each leg costs additional mileage, but you can stopover at any connection city for as long as you want.
-Changes/Cancellation: Changes are $75 or $150 within 21 days. Cancellation is $125 or $300 within 21 days.
-Expedite/Close-in fee: None
-Infant fees: 10% of full fare.
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Skyteam:

Skyteam generally has the worst award availability. You can try searching some Skyteam availability on Delta.com and AirFrance.com. Options to Israel besides Delta’s nonstop JFK flight are on Czech via Prague, KLM via Amsterdam, Air France via Paris, Aeroflot via Moscow, and Alitalia via Rome.

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Using Alitalia miles, from 40,000 Starpoints.
-Miles Required: 50K coach, 80K business.
Transfer Ratio: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 Alitalia miles. At a 1:1.25 ratio this means 40K Starpoints in coach or 64K Starpoints in business.
-Other transfer partners: AMEX Membership Rewards partner at a 1:1 ratio
-Fuel surcharges: Apply on most airlines.
-Mileage expiration: Alitalia miles require activity every 24 months.
-One-way awards: Not allowed.
-Online partner airline award booking: Partner awards must be booked over the phone, book awards during business hours in Italy to reach competent reps.
-Stopovers: 1 allowed.
-Changes/Cancellation: Date changes are free, other changes incur a 5,000 mile or 55 Euro penalty. Cancellation is not allowed.
-Expedite/Close-in fee: None.
-Infant fees: 10% of full fare.

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Using Delta miles, from 64,000 Starpoints.
-Miles Required: 80K-170K coach, 140K-350K business.
Transfer Ratio: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 Delta miles. At a 1:1.25 ratio this means 64,000-136,000 Starpoints in coach or 112,000-280,000 Starpoints in business.
-Other transfer partners: AMEX Membership Rewards partner at a 1:1 ratio
-Fuel surcharges: Apply on select partners but generally won’t apply to/from Israel.
-Mileage expiration: None.
-One-way awards: Allowed for half the amount of a round-trip.
-Online partner airline award booking: Some partners can be booked online, others are phone-only.
-Stopovers: Not allowed.
-Changes/Cancellation: There is a $150 charge to change or cancel an award ticket. No changes or cancellations are allowed within 3 days of the flight.
-Expedite/Close-in fee: None.
-Infant fees: 10% of full fare.

dl7

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Using Flying Blue (Air France/KLM) miles, from 20,000 Starpoints
-Miles Required: 25K-37.5K coach during a promo period, 50K coach otherwise, 62.5K-93,750 business during a promo period, 125K business otherwise.
Transfer Ratio: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 Flying Blue miles. At a 1:1.25 ratio this means rates starting at 20,000 Starpoints in coach or 50,000 Starpoints in business for a promo award. For regular tickets and partner ticket 40,000 Starpoints per ticket in coach or 100,000 Starpoints per ticket in business.
-Other transfer partners: AMEX Membership Rewards and Citi ThankYou partner at a 1:1 ratio
-Fuel surcharges: Apply on all airlines except Delta.
-Mileage expiration: Flying Blue miles expire 20 months unless you credit a Skyteam flight to Flying Blue.
-One-way awards: Allowed for half the amount of a round-trip.
-Online partner airline award booking: Yes
-Stopovers: Flying Blue allows for 1 free stopover.
-Expedite/Close-in fee: None.
-Infant fees: 10% of full fare.
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Summary:

Rates listed in this post are in Starpoints and are for round-trip travel and are assuming that you maximize the 25% point bonus for transferring Starpoints in blocks of 20,000 points (which you may or may not be able to do depending on the number of passengers, so you may have leftover miles)

Before you transfer, be sure to search for availability to see which transfer you should do!

Star Alliance:
-For Star Alliance travel, transfer points (from 48K) to Aegean (fuel surcharges apply except on Air Canada and United)
-For Star Alliance travel with lap children, transfer points (from 64K) to Air Canada (fuel surcharges on select carriers)
-For travel on Singapore business or first class via Frankfurt, transfer points (from 92K) to Singapore (fuel surcharges apply)
-For travel on Lufthansa or Swiss business or first class via Frankfurt, transfer points (from 84K) to Lufthansa (fuel surcharges apply)
-For other business class travel transfer points (From 72.2K) to Aegean (fuel surcharges apply except on Air Canada and United)
-For first class travel transfer points (From 96K) to Aegean (fuel surcharges apply except on Air Canada and United)

OneWorld:
-For OneWorld travel, transfer points (from 40K) to JAL (fuel surcharges apply except on American)
-For Air Berlin travel, transfer points (from 48K) to BA (no fuel surcharges)
-For OneWorld travel, transfer points (from 64K) to American (no fuel surcharges except on BA)
-For BA travel transfer points to LAN (from 53.3K) (no fuel surcharges)
-For business class travel transfer points (From 64K) to JAL (fuel surcharges apply except on American)

Skyteam:
-For Skyteam travel transfer points (from 40K) to Flying Blue (fuel surcharges apply except on Delta)
-For Skyteam travel on airlines besides Delta, transfer points (From 68K) to Delta (no fuel surcharges)
-For Air France/KLM travel during a promo period, transfer points (From 20K) to Flying Blue (fuel surcharges apply)
-For business class travel transfer points (From 64K) to Alitalia (fuel surcharges apply)

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17 Responses to “Getting To Israel Using Starwood Starpoints, 2016 Edition”

  1. Anonymous Says:
    1

    Is Starwood Consumer AMEX the best option for earning points for tickets to TLV?

    ReplyReply
  2. Fafa123 Says:
    2

    While, as always YMMV, I recently booked a one-way home (TLV-JFK) issuing SPG to Flying Blue for an Air France flight (20K SPG points). Less than 24 hours later we realized we had to change the flight. Rep said there is usually a change fee. I asked nicely and it was waived.

    ReplyReply
  3. jp Says:
    3

    Can I transfer AA mileage to Starwood?

    ReplyReply
  4. Abe Says:
    4

    Tried searching on ana for nyc to tlv and it didn’t work. Can someone possibly check for me. Dates 5/8/2016-6/27/2016

    ReplyReply
  5. shay peleg Says:
    5

    @Anonymous it basically is at the moment, since SPG transfer to all the obscure airlines.

    ReplyReply
  6. Worthwhile? Says:
    6

    Is it still worthwhile to apply for the spg card with the pending merger if I won’t be able to use the points for at least a year?

    ReplyReply
  7. Eliezer Says:
    7

    i think its time already to post a comprehensive explanation on open jaws and free stopovers, what exactly that is & how it works

    ReplyReply
  8. Z Says:
    8

    If I am trying to get a ticket to Israel this summer, am I better off signing up for the Starwoods card or for a AMEX Business Gold with a 75,000 MR points sign up bonus?

    ReplyReply
  9. Henry Says:
    9

    @Abe
    You need to find a United Saver award to book with ANA nonstop

    ReplyReply
  10. sam Says:
    10

    If i have a personal SPG card and am applying for the business amex offer and am guaranteeing the business will i still get the bonus points or because i have an spg card they wont give me the bonus 35k starwood points

    ReplyReply
  11. A European Says:
    11

    Very nice write and thanks for the information!

    One mistake is that air Berlin (unfortunately) does not fly DUS-TLV anymore please update it.

    Have a wonderful day!

    ReplyReply
  12. yanks Says:
    12

    I think it olso importnant to note SPG flights you can go on any united flight direct from ewr to tlv for 85-95k round trip even lower on elal

    ReplyReply
  13. traveler Says:
    13

    Dan, i singed up for the BA 100k card and spending 30k in the year to get the companion pass. is that sufficient enough to get two rountrip biz class tix to israle for sukkos? whats the best way to do it?

    ReplyReply
  14. Kalman Says:
    14

    Does anyone know:

    1) How many Starwood points are given for each dollar spent?

    2) How many Starwood points are needed for round trip El Al flight from NYC area?

    3) Which card us best to get El Al flights/miles?

    ReplyReply
  15. William Hochman Says:
    15

    Yanks wrote -I think it also important to note SPG flights you can go on any united flight direct from ewr to tlv for 85-95k round trip even lower on elal.

    I believe the mile conversion from SPG to UA or ELAL (for ER – TLV) is less than 1:1. Does anyone know the process how to use SPG points for UA or ELAL, EWR to TLV? Thnx

    ReplyReply
  16. A Says:
    16

    Why is it so hard to find the delta direct jfk to tlv flight on flying blue?

    ReplyReply
  17. perrier123 Says:
    17

    I found an Air Canada flight available to book on aeroplan, but it’s not showing up on ANA.
    Is there any way to book that flight and avoid Aeroplan high surcharges?

    ReplyReply

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