Read this first: Everything You Need To Know About Booking El Al Awards With Qantas!
A few weeks ago I wrote about how El Al Matmid suddenly moved to dynamically priced awards and removed the ability to search for standard award tickets. El Al tried to spin this to me as a good thing.
The new El Al site is even buggier than the one it replaced and it removes functionality that the old one had. It’s a complete swing and a miss as it is right now and the old functionality should have been retained until the new site was tested by end users and made ready for prime time.
El Al also removed award data from the GDS, but I was able to help get El Al award data restored to Qantas.com. In turn ExpertFlyer restored the ability to search for El Al award tickets via scraping Qantas.com data, though they weren’t able to restore the ability to tell how many award seats were available.
On 7/24, DDF member bachhere pointed out that El Al NYC-Tel Aviv flights were no longer showing up on Qantas.com, despite them showing up earlier in the day.
Sure enough, El Al flights for other routes still show up, but JFK-Tel Aviv and Newark-Tel Aviv flights do not show up.
Qantas blames El Al and El Al blames Qantas for the issue, but 5 days later it still hasn’t been fixed and nobody wants to take responsibility for what exactly is going on and why.
Many readers have written to me asking for help.
Luckily for them, there are some workarounds.
The tricky thing is to figure out when a flight has standard award space.
To search for standard award space on ElAl.com you now need sufficient points to book a standard flight, otherwise you are shown dynamic award space. Partner airlines like Qantas can only book travel if there is standard award space.
You can call El Al to search for standard award space, but that’s a time consuming process.
DDF member hamburg points out that Matmid members without sufficient points can still sniff out which dates have standard award space.
You can open a Matmid account for free via the El Al app.
For example I searched for NYC-Tel Aviv from November 10-December 1 via a Matmid account without any points.
I know that El Al charges non-Executive members 1K points for coach in the winter, 1.1K for coach in the summer, 1.75K for premium in the winter, 2.25K for premium in the summer, and 3K for business class from NYC-Tel Aviv.
El Al charges Executive members (those who have transferred 5K AMEX points in the past 12 months) 800 points for coach in the winter, 880 points for coach in the summer, 1.4K for premium in the winter, 1.8K for premium in the summer, and 2,550 points for business class from NYC-Tel Aviv.
From the results page I unchecked economy and premium, leaving only business checked. The calendar showed that on November 11th and 12th there were 3K business awards, which lines up with the standard award price for non-executives.
However El Al blocks Matmid members without sufficient points from seeing the standard award space, so when you click on the date it won’t show that rate.
But Qantas should have those dates available to book with their miles.
Another way to find flights with standard award space is with Qantas. On Qantas.com’s desktop site (their mobile site is a disaster) you won’t find any El Al awards if you search from NYC to Tel Aviv.
However if you try searching from other cities, like Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Washington DC, etc, it will actually pull up El Al awards flights with connections in NYC!
I suppose you could just book that and call Qantas to try to get them to delete the connection, but you can also just text Qantas and book flights from NYC-Tel Aviv via SMS in the following locations:
- US SMS: 1-478-772-6827
- Australia SMS: 0477-726-827
- Hong Kong SMS: +852-64507645
- Singapore SMS: +65-82410824
- UK SMS: +44-7480785726
I knew based on my searches above that there would be business class award space available between NYC-Tel Aviv on November 11 and 12 and the SMS agent was also able to find space for me and book it for 78K Qantas points:
You can also try calling Qantas to book El Al award space between NYC and Tel Aviv. Knowing which flights are available will certainly give you a leg up as you can reference that specific flight.
It’s worth noting that Qantas employs a large number of fairly useless SMS and phone agents, so you may need to HUCA in order to book these awards, but the good news is that you can still search for and book these awards with your Qantas points.
Share your experience in the comments!