El Al has a fairly terrible frequent flyer program.
Points from flights expire after 3 years, redemption rates are pretty awful, and they charge a huge fuel surcharge ($350 in total fees for JFK-TLV) on redemptions to boot. Plus you can’t use El Al points for travel on any other airline, so you’re limited to just the availability of 1 airline. As opposed to program like Continental/United where you can search for avaialbility and redeem miles on over 40 partner airlines!
Adding insult to injury: They also charge $25 to join the program.
Use this link however and you’ll be able to join for free
Why do you want to join if the program is so terrible, you ask?
Primarily because if you are a member you are able to check award availability online. You can use AA miles to book El Al flights, but that must be done by calling AA. Best of all AA allows you to even book one-way awards on El Al AND they don’t charge a fuel surcharge for redeeming miles to fly on El Al!
Another benefit is for flights that aren’t to/from North America that Matmid members get an extra 11 pounds of free checked luggage.
Need AA miles? You can always transfer 20,000 Starwood points easily earned with the Starwood Consumer AMEX or the Starwood Business AMEX for 25,000 AA miles or sign up for some of the best AA card offers ever (they don’t expire until the links stop working)
Here is the AA partner award chart.
You can book a one-way between Israel and the following zones for the following amounts:
-North America : 45K coach, 67.5K business.
(North America includes Hawaii, as AA bizarrely counts Hawaii as part of North America for intercontinental awards which can make a Buenos Aires-Honolulu ticket in May be fewer miles (20K) than Los Angeles-Honolulu (22.5K)!)
-Europe: 20K coach, 30K business.
-Asia: 22.5K coach, 30K business.
-India/Middle East: 17.5K coach, 25K business.
-Africa: 30K coach, 45K business.
-South Pacific: 30K coach, 45K business.
-South America Zone 1: 60K coach, 82.5K business.
-South America Zone 2: 67.5K coach, 90K business.
Because the way the chart is set up, sometimes it is cheaper to book a flight like US-Europe-Israel during off peak periods for 40K instead of 45K from the US-Israel. You won’t be able to go nonstop from the US to Israel for 40K…but you can check out any European city for as short or long as you want, or just use it as a connection point.
HT: yid, via the DansDeals Forums