El Al Goes Dynamic, Removes The Ability To Search For Standard Award Tickets; Here’s What It Means For Matmid And Qantas Members

78
DDMS IconNever Miss Another Deal - Follow DansDeals on Facebook

In 2015 Delta removed their award charts. They dynamically price their award tickets based on demand and sales that they run. United will do the same in November. I think the changes will be devastating in the long-term. And that’s why I advise you that you should accumulate bank points and avoid locking yourself into airline miles and hotel points.

El Al is now moving in that direction as well with the launch of dynamically priced awards, though they still retain their standard award chart for now.

El Al launched a new booking platform yesterday and I was inundated with emails from readers about no longer finding any El Al business class award availability with Qantas points. People who transferred over millions of points to Qantas last month were rightfully panicking about the disappearing act. (In the good news department, Qantas honored the 44% transfer bonus for everyone that transferred points last month. Major kudos to Qantas for making everyone whole!)

Additionally, El Al removed the ability to search the award calendar on their own website and they removed the ability to search for awards on sites like ExpertFlyer as they removed E class (economy awards) and X class (business awards) from the GDS.

I immediately reached out to a contact at El Al to find out what was going on.

For example, I pointed out that the new search engine showed dynamically priced awards, but didn’t show the standard award rates:

 

But I pointed out that I still had a working backdoor link to the old search engine and it showed that standard award flight should be available:

 

Additionally I showed him that Qantas wasn’t showing business class awards, even when they were available from El Al as well:

 

He told me that the old El Al award search engine is being killed as customer research showed that people wanted simplicity and searching for available award flights was too complex. He also wound up killing my backdoor link, saying that the old Amadeus booking engine would be turned off shortly and it would be killed when that happened.

The new search engine is programmed to only show awards priced using the award chart if you already have enough Matmid points for an award. Otherwise it will only show the dynamically priced awards.

When I asked why it’s not programmed to just show the lowest cost award, whether it’s from the award chart pricing or dynamically priced he said that they don’t want to confuse customers that don’t have enough points.

I pointed out the logical fallacy of that statement, as customers can be even more frustrated by the higher priced dynamic awards as they would be by the standard awards. Additionally I pointed out that I would want to transfer AMEX points to Matmid after seeing that there are standard awards available, but now you need to have sufficient Matmid points in order to even see if there are standard award available.

In the end, he said that 99% of customers preferred dynamic awards in their case studies, which is why they are killing the ability to search only for standard awards and why they hide standard award availability unless you have sufficient points.

If you want to search for standard awards, you’ll need to transfer the AMEX points to Matmid first and then search. I pointed out that Matmid points expire after 36 months even if you have activity and that there is no other airline operating North America-Israel service with such a draconian expiration policy. Why would I transfer points from AMEX to Matmid in the hope that I would find availability? And why not just show the lowest award price available for each flight?

Again, the answer was that in general, functionality in the new site was stripped out for simplicity sake. Power users can use Google and other sites to start their flight search, while people going directly to ElAl.com will get an easier to use site. AMEX transfers are a tiny percentage of bookings, so it was not catered for them.

It seems like the trend of dumbing down websites to the lowest common denominator has spread to the airline industry. Back in the day, websites were only optimized for desktop devices. Now it seems like many sites are only optimized for mobile devices and advanced options are being stripped out of desktop sites. That’s a shame.

I said how much I appreciated United’s approach, to allow users to identify themselves as experts in order to enable an expert mode. But he lamented that they don’t have United’s budget to work with.

I also asked why El Al would remove E and X class from GDS, as power users would love to at least have the ability to use that data for their research. The answer is that El Al didn’t want award bookings via GDS and travel agents, they want people to use the new search engine to book awards.

That’s fine, but it leaves people who want to transfer points only for standard awards without much to work with. Does El Al not realize how lucrative the mileage programs are for the airlines?

In the end he agreed to argue the case to show standard awards to everyone, so we’ll see what happens.

In the good news department, he was able to fix several bugs that I pointed out.

Most importantly, Qantas can once again book business class awards:

 

The annoying thing is that the Qantas award calendar can’t be set to show nonstop flights only. That means it will show all airlines that have availability, including connections that have sky-high fuel surcharges:

 

With GDS searches gone, you’ll just have to search for each date using Qantas to see when El Al has award availability.

In order to search El Al for standard awards you’ll need enough points to book a standard award. I pointed out a bug that the new search engine wasn’t showing one-way standard awards even if you had sufficient points. He was able to fix this bug as well.

Here’s how to use the new search engine.

Click on the log in button and login to your account:

 

A reader gave me access to their Matmid Gold account in order to do research for this post. Here’s what the new booking page looks like. You’ll want to make sure that you enable “Show prices and points & award tickets.” There is no longer a dedicated award search and the link I used yesterday to search for awards only has been killed.

 

Unfortunately after you search it shows you the results page that only shows dynamically priced awards. However if you click on Log in again on top of the page and login then you will get the page with standard award pricing:

 

Search results page showing dynamic and standard awards:

 

Quite frankly, even after dozens of email and a 40 minute phone conversation, I still have no idea why El Al isn’t showing this search results page to everyone, with the lower of standard and dynamic pricing showed to everyone, regardless of how many points they have.

I understand the goal of simplicity. I just don’t see how this accomplishes that goal.

But I was assured that the new site allows the ability to make changes quickly in response to customer demand. So if these changes affect you, be sure to contact El Al and let them know how you feel about the changes.


Get more details on credit card offers and compare to other cards:
 
Click Here To Explore & Compare Credit Cards
 

Leave a Reply

78 Comments On "El Al Goes Dynamic, Removes The Ability To Search For Standard Award Tickets; Here’s What It Means For Matmid And Qantas Members"

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

Sort by:   newest | oldest
vabomere

These guys are the worst

Meh.

Wow. I just transferred 500k Amex to Qantas just for elal. Are there any other airlines I can book with on Qantas to go to EY? Delta? Continental?

lindnuck

When searing on Qantas I often was given routings to Israel on Cathay via Asia.

reb yid

Some people will actual transfer gobs of points to ElAl in order to see the saver awards. Or will needlessly use more points than necessary by booking dynamic awards. That sort of activity will benefit ElAl.

davidmal

GDS for E and X is insane they canceled that! horrible

LY hater

how do we contact elal to tell them our feelings?

Happy Thanksgiving

Elal reminds me of the Mets. They simply cant get it right, no matter how hard they try. 🙂

united

any way for the non professional to see the seat map?
Any way that flights booked through Qantas can reserve seats online?
Thanx

LY hater

if thew really want to make things simple they should mulitply their points by 50

Mendy

What will happen once they will be partners with Alaska?
At the rate it goes now they will charge 300,000 points per way like air lingus

db

If i dont have enough points in the account why would they show me the higher priced dynamic and not the lower priced standard? what is their logic?

Eli

No first class bookings on the new site??!!

Chaim

Dan, I think You and Elal both know the truth of whats going on here. The one thing you don’t understand Elal is why they can’t figure out how to make money from mileage, but that aside, it’s quite obvious that they are trying to eliminate all the bookings through Quantas.
You and Elal both know that this sentence “Why would I transfer points from AMEX to Matmid in the hope that I would find availability?” was only used as an argument and no one sane would EVER transfer points to Elal, even if they knew there was availability, especially after reading all your posts( which I amsure Elal does).
I Would guess that Elal’s Reward bookings Quadrupled since Qantas made it easy to book Elal, and with the recent Qantas / Amex deal they probably had in this one month the equivalent of a years worth of bookings

Netlevy

What is GDS can you explain please?

db

i see a lot of availability in winter for 495 points each way in economy ex 1/13-1/22. isn’t this cheaper than standard?

db

when i log in to my account the price triples for the same flight!! System is totally messed up.

Someone

what is the diffrenc between dynamic award and the old?

Work-for-ur-muny

Why did you spill your back door link to them?! Had they not known it may have stayed up.

Deal Guy

Can you dumb this down a bit more?
What is the definition of dynamically priced, and how is it simpler?
Is a economy ticket 5277 or only 800?
Something doesn’t add up. If you can’t book elal award booking unless you have enough points, yet once you have enough points it is only 800, then who is the 5277 for?
Thanks

AJK

What. a. mess.

How can the national airline of one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world, run by a bunch of presumably smart tribesmen be so absolutely tone-deaf when it comes to running a loyalty program? They seem to not be able get out of their own way even long enough to glance — even briefly — at the financials of some of the airlines who more successfully run their programs to learn that they make *billions* of dollars in revenue.

El Al, my friends, here’s the open secret: as a loyalty program, you want folks ON the rabbit wheel (and to stay there) by hanging a carrot. Take away the carrot — by among other things, making it more difficult to use your miles, raising award prices, limiting access to data, and otherwise catering to the lowest common denominator — will inexorably lead to the rabbits throwing up their paws and saying “why the heck am I running here? Where’s did the carrot go, bro?”

Start by avoiding no-notice changes to your award program; start by not dealing with your loyalty customers as buffoons (“Why don’t you show lowest cost awards to everyone?” “[Well, we] don’t want to confuse customers that don’t have enough points.”); start by removing your draconian 36-month expiration regardless of activity.

Then slowly, begin transforming what you apparently view as a cost-center into a profit-center by actually implementing “home away from home,” instead of just screaming it into the wind.

Harvey

Why all the bother having to waste so much time just to be able to jump through some other business’ effed-up mileage program? It’s quite clear from how they treat their customers that El Al thinks either that a) their customers are dumb; or b) their customers are just a bother once they have paid $$ to El Al; or c) both the above. All the time wasted trying to straighten out their uber-chochom crap would be better spent learning an omud of Gemorah.

Don\'t Understand

Did they explain why they are implementing this so called ‘simplicity’ only for consumers with a low balance and NOT for consumers with a high balance? If they realy mean simplicity, make it simple for everyone, why the discrimination?

BH

I am a travel agent in Israel, and this change makes no sense at all. By removing the award classes from the GDS elal has just made life much harder for themselves, as we travel agents used to book reward trips for our clients from the GDS and now all those tickets have to be booked by elal employees. the new system is so unclear and confusing that most people will end up calling elal anyway.

Bob

El Al stock is down 32% since its recent high in November 2018. Stop wasting your time with award points and make some real money selling it short as it continues to decline.

AJK

Frankly, that’s not a bad idea. If the folks who run the airline are as tone-deaf as those who are responsible for loyalty… well, I’m gonna get rich.

Shay

Does Quantas has a fuel charge for BA?

Deal Guy

JetBlue I believe has dynamic pricing. A ticket that costs $30 more will cost x amount more in JetBlue points. That’s easy to understand.

But I’m not understanding dynamic pricing with elal. If standard award amount in Feb is 800, that means that Elal considers that a fair amount vs paying for a ticket. But how is their dynamic amount 5277 based on price of an award ticket? 5277 x 50 amex is 263,850 amex points just for one way in Feb , or 527,700 amex points t economy, which is no way comparable to a cash ticket. So I don’t understand where they get to 5277?

BH

The (un)logic behind this calculation is 3 matmid points per 1 USD, so a one way ticket ( the system does not calculate it as half of a RT, but as a one-way ) which would cost about $1760 + tax comes up as 5277 points.
the idea is that you can reduce the price of the ticket by using 3 points per $

tracht goot

DD (Dear Dan 🙂
I’ve been reading these posts for about 4 years now, and have benefited tremendously!
enjoyed heaps of great deals, got several cc’s, even redeemed a few award flights.. much great-full for that, thank you and be blessed!
And yet, i’m somewhat embarrassed to admit i still don’t understand “what’s flying”.
how/ would i be able to learn more about this expert mode? or,
what is the difference btwn dynamic and standard awards?

when i search qantas for a flight to tlv around pesach time, the elal flights show at the top of results, for 37,800 miles. yet you write ” it’s just more challenging to search for available award flights”. what am i missing? is this great availability due to the long time horizon?

traveller

I just made a booking with elal today and i booked a premium economy from TLV to JFK for 1,800 matmid points and there was also available economy for 880 points.
The story goes like this.
I tried booking the elal flight with points on their new and updated site today, and i didn’t recognize the prices when i searched for the flight. Everything was over 5,000 matmid points. A while later i tried again and interestingly enough i found it available for the regular price, and i booked it today. I spoke today to elal and they told me that they just updated their site and they are having small issues including the pricing of award tickets. They were also having issues procesing reservations. They told me that they will fix it.

Wondering

Dan,
How would you suggest we contact ElAl to complain about this? Do you have a good contact number/department?

tyh

obviously, im upset but Chevra relax a little the airlines want to make some money too they think this is the way to make more money

Yandmk

My understanding is that they want to keep the Matmid program basically for El Al elites who earn miles primarily from flying, and make those transferring Amex as miserable as possible (after all they didn’t “earn” their free ticket by flying El Al). Those earning miles from flying don’t usually search for award space unless they already have enough for a redemption.

They should at least have the brains to do like UA by showing some sort of stupid “excursion perk” to take peoples focus away from the bad, and make believe the changes are really good.

traveller

this is what i wrote to elal today
I am very disturbed about the way the new site works.
I tried booking a flight today with elal and i came accross crazy prices, more than 5,000 points for a simple economy flight. What business is this that i cant see a simple flight for the normal price? Why do i need to have a suficient amount of points in order to see the regular price? What good do i have from flying with elal when i will need to fly 20 to 30 flights a year in order to get a ecomomy flight for a crazy price? Why would anyone fly elal when this is the service you offer? Every normal airline including United and Delta Have a normal site for booking cash and award flights! If United and Delta are able to have normal pricing, then there is no reason that elal shouldnt have normal pricing! And dont give me an unlogic reason for making the site this way because the site has to be simple for everyone. If you will make a survey what people want, either a simple site that has crazy pricing or a less simple site with normal pricing. EVERYONE will agree that the normal pricing option is better. The same way people managed until now with the so called difficult pricing, people will manage to figure out the new site with normal pricing!
I have a bunch of friends that i book flights for, I usually book elal. IF I DONT SEE A CHANGE TO THIS SITE THAN I WILL LOOK FOR A DIFFERENT AND BETTER AIRLINE THAT HAS BETTER PRICING FOR CASH AND AWARDS
I am hoping that you will take this letter as a way to improve the elal site, and not as a way to fight with all of the unhappy customers
Thanks!

Moish

I don’t understand the problem. I just transferred 6000 points into elal and was able to find the “classic award” ticket I wanted. You just need to search well in advance to make sure there’s availability… But that’s how it always worked for me

Ira

Dan,

Based on reading your ELAL posts over the past few years, the actions by ELAL executives and airline people make no sense.

It appears that for some reason, they do not want to cater to people who get free tickets, even if they are getting paid for it. They only want people who “want” to be on ELAL because its ELAL. Its almost like they are stuck in the 50’s and 60’s with socialist state owned industries, instead of being Start up Nation.

No filter

this is terrible
good email address to write to?

Noah32

Maybe an El Al elite who regularly has a lot of points will allow the DDF community to access their account to check for awards?

I’m sure someone can think of a safe system.

Harvey

El Al has been in this chochmologia biz – actually hokumologia biz – since the mid-1970’s or so when airlines started Frequent Flyer Mileage programs (and I am old enough to remember because I used many of them). Their original Matmid program was designed by uberchochomim to make the simple complicated, and my view is that this is a methodology or business model that exists to this day. After all the BS and foileh shtick, I just stopped using those jerks and spent my airline money where I was treated best. The only time I ever flew El Al since then was when I needed to get to Israel yesterday from LA for close relative’s levayah. And since I wasn’t flying on the “right” day, the plane stopped in NY and “of course” was delayed in departing for Israel, so I actually missed the levayah by about 2 hours. An airline as useless to me as teats on a bull…

username

Dan,
Can you do a poll of your readers if they want simplicity over reality or whatever?

mf

Dan,
Is it possible that elal prefers their award seats be redeemed with partner airlines because the partner pays them for each award seat that they redeem, however, if it is redeemed with matmed points elal gets $0 from that and they just lose a seat?
maybe this is the reason why elal is partnering with other airlines like Qantas.

Motti

I was talking to elal on the phone and the agent was upset that now they’ll have much more work. Upper management is out of touch.

Harry

Guys, El Al is an arrogant bunch of losers. The airline is awful. Fly a decent airline wherever you go. I only ever fly El Al when there is literally no alternative. On a short flight, I have even taken loco flights rather than El Al. Sooner it closes down and stops wasting our time the better. Why doesn’t it just admit that its great people decided to try a new approach to trying to derail its FF Club instead of saying our customers are so dumb they cannot understand anything except the simplest lowest common denominator. Easy to blame everyone except yourselves.

Yaakov

could anybody explain how airlines make money from points tickets

Yaakov

thanks and elal site now letting me see award tickets even though no points in my account

Benji

I’m trying to make sure that I properly understand all this. Does this mean that technically I can still book elal thru qantas but in peak season tickets just went up steeply? The reason that I transferred all of my amex points was not only the 44% but also the award pricing vs transferring amex to elal. Is that now dead? Lasly, I’m not understanding how to find bookings. I asked for multiple dates thru the tet line, hinging them flights that elal shows award seats available but thru qantas there are no seats available. Not even economy and certainly not business

moshe

this is crazy what’s going on here they wanna lose their costumers they have left no common sense let’s move in where can we call elal to just explain them how to make profit of reward tickets like all the biggest airlines as an example unites Lufthansa etc.

ExpertFlyer Voice

FYI the ability to see El Al award inventory has been restored to ExpertFlyer.

Moshe

I don’t see it back on expertflyer

Shlomo

Dan I can’t find any flights Newark to Tel Aviv in Qantas. I want economy seats. But I cant even search this route. Am i doing this wrong, or is nyc to tlv with Qantas no longer bookable in any way? What if i call qantas? Any ideas?

No filter

It looks like they are no longer showing (again!). They used to show then El Al changed their site / access and it disappeared. Then Dan spoke to someone at El Al and it showed up again on Qantas.com. And now it’s gone. This is terrible.

sfried

in simple English how do i search elal tickets on qantas.com ? thanks

No filter

Apparently, you no longer can. Simple enough?

Av

is it still possible to book by phone?

Mike

How come I can’t search any Elal flights on Qantas site past few days

Faigy

Something must be wrong with their online..I booked over the phone last night

Jerry

Can one still book any flights to Israel on Qantas using the points?

joey

Hi Dan, ElAl Availability is no longer showing up on Qantas.com for flight to/from JFK/EWR. Is this a glitch or something intentional?

wpDiscuz