On November 19th I made several predictions about the American-USAirways merger. Several have already come true.
-As referenced in #3 and #4, the American OneWorld round-the-world award chart was killed and USAirways started collecting fuel surcharges on British Airways and has already killed some off-peak awards.
-And I wrote in #9,
“Beware that El Al may decide to sever its relationship with American if they become a competitor and you may no longer be able to use American miles on El Al. Though if El Al would do that they would lose codeshare access to other US cities that they get from American though they can always set one up with an airline like JetBlue.”
“Effective November 1, 2014, flights taken on El Al will not accrue AAdvantage miles due to the discontinuation of American’s frequent flyer relationship with EL AL.
All award travel on EL AL must be booked and ticketed by October 31, 2014. Travel is valid one year after ticket date, and must be completed by October 31, 2015. No changes to the EL AL segments are allowed during that period.”
El Al used to be partners with Delta and that relationship ended when Delta started flights from Atlanta to Tel Aviv. Eventually those flights shifted to JFK.
American’s subsidiary USAirways of course flies to Tel Aviv via Philadelphia. The best way to book that flight is with less than 40K Starpoints round-trip via a transfer to LAN.
As American works out their issues with the former TWA employees who were stiffed in Israel they will surely launch more flights to Israel from JFK and Miami. And El Al wants no part of that.
Had the United-Continental merger not gone through then I think El Al would be announcing a partnership with United today. Alas it did and United flies to Israel as well thanks to absorbing Continental’s flights. Which means there are no major North American carriers remaining to partner up with. Air Canada, Delta, and United all are competitors and all have a better business class product than El Al.
I still think a JetBlue partnership may occur, but that will likely be a codeshare-only relationship and not a frequent flyer relationship.
If you have AA miles and want to book a trip to Israel do it now before award inventory is completely wiped out by other AA mileage hoarders. Don’t wait for 10/31 to book a trip.
There is still time to transfer Starpoints to American to book flights on El Al, that transfer typically takes a few days.
You’ll need 45K miles in coach and 67.5K miles in business each way to fly nonstop from North America to Israel on El Al. El Al has flights from JFK, Los Angeles, Newark, and Toronto to Tel Aviv.
If you stop in Europe that price can drop to 40K if you fly between 10/15-05/15. There’s a lot more info on hacking that award that in footnote *** at the end of this post.
Asia is a real bargain. Tel Aviv to Asia is just 22.5K miles in coach and business is just 30K. El Al flies nonstop to cities like Bangkok and Hong Kong. Their business class isn’t anything to write home about, but 30K is still a great bargain. In fact I just helped my parents book a trip from the US-Europe-Asia-Israel-US using AA miles with a flight on El Al in business class from the far east to Israel.
And El Al was a good way of getting from Israel to Australia for just 30K in coach and 45K in business as you can route from the Middle East to Australia via Bangkok and Hong Kong. Or you can use a 60K first class award to connect to a Qantas First class flight in Asia. Or you can use 30K AA miles to fly business to Bangkok and 30K United miles to fly Thai Business or 40K United miles to fly Thai First down under. Thai First even comes with a free hour long massage in their Bangkok lounge.
Here is the rest of the AA award chart. You can always combine flights on El Al with other AA OneWorld and non-alliance partners on the same award.
Note that American agents often can only see 2 El Al awards at a time, so have them grab those 2 seats and then have the agent check for 2 more or just call back.
Some agents don’t know how to properly search for El Al award seats due to their confusing class codes (business on El Al is the same class as coach on other airlines, leave it to the Israelis to come up with the one ), so you may need to use some HUCA.
AA.com doesn’t show El Al awards, so you’ll need a Matmid account to research availability online.
Of course earlier this year HAS Advantage points stopped transferring to El Al as well.
Stay tuned for a post on the best remaining ways to use miles to fly on El Al in a post-AA and post-HAS era.