Is It Actually Possible To Use Qantas Points To Save On El Al Award Flights Between North America And Tel Aviv?

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A few years ago the best way to travel on El Al was to use American miles.

Then American merged with USAirways and they had their own flight to Tel Aviv, so they cancelled their award partnership with El Al. Since then American discontinued their Tel Aviv flight, but the partnership was never revived.

You can use Qantas points to book award travel on El Al, but Qantas does not allow award travel between North America and Tel Aviv on El Al.

DDF member “high end hobo” posted on 9/6 that he heard a report that someone was able to call Qantas and book a ticket between North America and Tel Aviv. However “damaxer91” posted that he tried calling and didn’t have any luck. Baruch wrote in a comment a couple of weeks ago that it did work over the phone, but I wasn’t able to confirm the details at first and there was no information online of anyone with a confirmed Qantas booking of an award ticket between North America and Tel Aviv on El Al.

So is it actually possible?

First of all, let’s talk about whether it’s even worth it.

You can transfer points from Citibank ThankYou points to Qantas at a 1:1 ratio. Transfers can take a day or 2.

That’s compared to AMEX to El Al transfer rates of 50:1 and instant transfers.

Here is the Qantas award chart:

Sample destinations to/from Tel Aviv:

  • Zone 1: Larnaca
  • Zone 2: Athens, Sofia
  • Zone 3: London, Madrid, Moscow, Paris, Venice, Warsaw, Zurich
  • Zone 4: Mumbai
  • Zone 5: Bangkok, Beijing, Johannesburg
  • Zone 6: Boston, Hong Kong, JFK, Newark, Toronto
  • Zone 7: Miami
  • Zone 8: Los Angeles

 

El Al rates below are for Executive members. A transfer of just 5,000 AMEX points from the US AMEX Membership Rewards program to El Al’s Matmid program will earn you executive status for a year. Points transfer instantly from AMEX to El Al, though it takes about a day after the transfer for the executive status to take effect on your El Al Matmid account. Note that transferred points expire after 36 months and can’t be extended with activity.

Sample comparison of El Al Matmid point requirements vs Qantas points requirements:

  • A one-way coach ticket from London to Tel Aviv is 350 Matmid points (17.5K AMEX) in the winter and 400 Matmid points (20K AMEX) in the summer, plus fuel surcharges. With Qantas it’s 20K points year-round and there are no fuel surcharges.
  • A one-way business class ticket from London to Tel Aviv is 1.1K Matmid points (55K AMEX) but it’s going down on 10/29 to 950 Matmid points (47.5K AMEX), plus fuel surcharges. With Qantas it’s 38K points and there are no fuel surcharges.
  • A one-way first class ticket from London to Tel Aviv is 1.8K Matmid points (90K AMEX), plus fuel surcharges. With Qantas it’s 56K points and there are no fuel surcharges.
  • A one-way coach ticket from Bangkok to Tel Aviv is 900 Matmid points (45K AMEX), plus fuel surcharges. With Qantas it’s 35K points and there are no fuel surcharges.
  • A one-way business class ticket from Bangkok to Tel Aviv is 2K Matmid points (100K AMEX), plus fuel surcharges. With Qantas it’s 65K points and there are no fuel surcharges.
  • A one-way first class ticket from Bangkok to Tel Aviv is 3,250 Matmid points (162.5K AMEX), plus fuel surcharges. With Qantas it’s 95K points and there are no fuel surcharges.
  • A one-way coach ticket from JFK to Tel Aviv is 700 Matmid points (35K AMEX) in the winter and 800 Matmid points (40K AMEX) in the summer, plus fuel surcharges. With Qantas it’s 42K points year-round and there are no fuel surcharges.
  • A one-way business class ticket from JFK to Tel Aviv is 2K Matmid points (100K AMEX) but it’s going up on 10/28 to 2,250 Matmid points (112.5K AMEX), plus fuel surcharges. With Qantas it’s 78K points and there are no fuel surcharges.
  • A one-way first class ticket from JFK to Tel Aviv is 3,250 Matmid points (162.5K AMEX), plus fuel surcharges. With Qantas it’s 114K points and there are no fuel surcharges.
  • A one-way coach ticket from Los Angeles to Tel Aviv is 900 Matmid points (45K AMEX) in the winter and 1,000 Matmid points (50K AMEX) in the summer, plus fuel surcharges. With Qantas it’s 56K points year-round and there are no fuel surcharges.
  • A one-way business class ticket from Los Angeles to Tel Aviv is 2,250 Matmid points (112.5K AMEX) but it’s going up on 10/28 to 2,750 Matmid points (137.5K AMEX), plus fuel surcharges. With Qantas it’s 104K points and there are no fuel surcharges.
  • A one-way first class ticket from Los Angeles to Tel Aviv is 3,500 Matmid points (175K AMEX), plus fuel surcharges. With Qantas it’s 152K points and there are no fuel surcharges.

El Al Matmid fuel surcharges can add $75-$150 each way.

Note that El Al often has award sales, such as this one, that can lower the cost of awards.

Clearly, there are many great uses for Qantas points on El Al. However you can’t book North America-Tel Aviv tickets on Qantas.com.

I like searching for award space on ExpertFlyer, but you can also search for award space on ElAl.com. After finding award space I called Qantas at 800-227-4229 to see if I’d be able to book a North America-Tel Aviv flight.

The first agent said that Qantas wasn’t a partner with El Al. Click.

The second agent said that he couldn’t book award travel on El Al and that I’d have to do it online. I pushed and he transferred me to another agent who said if I wanted to book award travel on El Al to call back between 5pm-5am EST.

I called back after 5pm and the agent said that you can’t book award travel on El Al with Qantas points. When I insisted that you could he spoke with a support team and confirmed that you indeed could. Or in his words, “Boy, that’s a real eye-opener!” He quoted a mileage price for the flights, but when I asked for the taxes owed he said that his support team told him that they can’t book El Al flights between North America and Tel Aviv.

And hour down the drain but still determined, I HUCA’d.

The next couple of agents were incompetent and didn’t know anything about booking El Al tickets, but I got one to transfer me to the frequent flyer department. Unfortunately the frequent flyer department said they can’t actually search for award space or make award bookings!

The frequent flyer department agent was the first agent that I spoke to at Qantas with an Australian accent. She offered to transfer me back to reservations. When I explained that I had spoken to a number of agents already she advised just to keep trying and asking for a manager.

She transferred me back to reservations and this time I found myself talking to the first reservation agent with an Aussie accent. This agent was very competent, but said she would need to check with her support team to see if she could book an El Al ticket between North America and Tel Aviv.

I thought that would be the end of it, but she came back and said that they were now allowed to book those tickets. She confirmed the exact award space that I found on ExpertFlyer. She even agreed to make a dummy booking for me to confirm that there were no fuel surcharges, but she said she was not allowed to hold the award space for me.

After all that hassle I did get in touch with commenter Baruch who confirmed that it took several phone calls, but he did indeed book a Tel Aviv-JFK first class El Al award with Qantas points without fuel surcharges. It got held up in the ticketing process and it took a few phone calls, but it was ticketed in the end.

A few more DDF members also confirmed that they were able to get ticketed as well including oiseli48 who said it took over a week and a few hours on the phone to get a business class ticket from Miami to Tel Aviv booked.

TL;DR: You can theoretically use Qantas points to book El Al awards between North America and Tel Aviv, but it will take a lot of time and patience making your way through Qantas’ awful call centers. As there is no way to hold an award and transfers from Citibank are not instant, you will have to risk your points by transferring and then hoping to find an agent willing to book your award before the award space is gobbled up by someone else.

You can save a nice chunk of miles and fuel surcharges with Qantas, but you’ll need Citi points, a Citi card like Prestige, Premier, or Chairman, and a good amount of luck, time, and patience. If you want instant transfers from AMEX and the ability to book online without major headaches, you will want to still use El Al points.

Were you able to use Qantas points to book an El Al award between North America and Tel Aviv? Share your experience in the comments!


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17 Comments On "Is It Actually Possible To Use Qantas Points To Save On El Al Award Flights Between North America And Tel Aviv?"

All opinions expressed below are user generated and the opinions aren’t provided, reviewed or endorsed by any advertiser or DansDeals.

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yanky

in august the north america redemption, were available on the website. but the removed that

high end hobo

Dan thank you for this DDMS article.

If you look on the comments to the relevant OMAAT article, you’ll see comments suggesting what hours to call to get competent reps.

One thing to note is that QF DOES charge YQ on some LY awards (not to/from NA), I booked myself TLV-JNB in Y for 35k QF + ~$150 in YQ which is the same amount of YQ that LY charges.

I’m curious if you’ll be able to book QF online for the new LY flight to EZE

Dan\'s the Man

Dan, any chance you think American will repartner with El Al?

CtownBin

Another interesting aspect of the ELAL-Qantas partnership- and maybe more useful- is for EARNING miles. Where have people been crediting their paid ElAl flights to? Seems to me that Qantas is the best option. The problem with ElAl points, to me, is that they expire AND they only work on ElAl flights, so they’re only good if you live in an ElAl city. Whereas, Qantas points can be used on domestic flights at pretty good rates, not so different from Avios, as well as Tel-Aviv flights that connect in a different city via American without adding any extra miles (e.g., CLE-JFK-TLV with AA flying the domestic leg for the same 42k miles). So, a good strategy would be to earn miles in Qantas, and use them on American flights at decent value- even if you’re never going to book an ElAl award with the Qantas points.

Where else have people been crediting their ElAl flights since the end of the AA relationship?

aa

Well written and great that it is possible. Do they have the same award availability as elal?

points

I’ve transferred many TY points to Singapore. I found that lately the points are transferred and in my account the next morning. I also recently transferred a few Amex points to Singapore and they were not instant, it showed in my account the next morning, the same time that the TY points transferred showed.

Yids

I just did it! PUCA’ed 2x this morning about 45 min each. 1st person couldn’t find the availability, 2nd didn’t want to book because of the yq not showing. She told me to call the Australian number (+61131313) at 1am when it calms down, I waited for 1 minute just now. Took 10 minutes and its all done. This was a HUGE savings! 312k QF for 2 tix in J RT JFK TLV & $184 in taxes total! Thank you!

j-town

now bookable online

Judah

Is there anyway to transfer Amex or Chase points into Qantas points?

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