Getting To Israel Using Miles

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-Updated 04/16/13 with current rates.
Note that there is a current bonus for transfers from Starwood to Air Canada.

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Related: Which Miles To Use To Hawaii? (Read this post to learn how to get a free flexible ticket (or even 2) to places like Miami, Los Angeles, Alaska, or even Hawaii when you book your next ticket to Israel!)


This post will attempt to break down some of the best options for getting to Israel, along with listing whether a fuel surcharge (which can add anywhere from $100 to $1,000 onto the cost a free ticket) applies.

There are 3 major transferable point currencies and you can transfer points into various mileage currencies from the following credit cards.
(Typically if you apply for multiple cards from the same bank on the same day you will only get a single credit pull.)

-Starwood points are earned from the consumer Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express or the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express OPEN.
20,000 Starwood points generally transfer into 25,000 miles, though the transfer can take between 2-12 days. Some partners (like USAirways) do not care if you transfer to someone else’s account while others (like AA) are stricter. There are no fees.

-American Express Membership Rewards points can be earned from consumer cards like the American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card and The Platinum Card® from American Express.
Business cards include the Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN and The Business Platinum Card® from American Express OPEN.
Points generally transfer instantly (exceptions includes transfers to ANA and Singapore which can take a day or 2) and can be made to anyone, though a fee applies for transfers to domestic carriers like Delta.

-Chase Ultimate Rewards points are earned from consumer cards like Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Sapphire Non-Preferred, Chase Freedom Visa, and Chase Freedom Mastercard.

They can also be earned from business cards like Chase Ink Bold, Chase Ink Plus, or Ink Business Cash® Credit Card.
You or your spouse need to have either a Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, an Ink Bold, or an Ink Plus to actually transfer points into miles.
Points generally transfer instantly with no fees.

Tips for finding saver award availability:

Award tickets to Israel are always tough, though that’s a function of it being an expensive route to fly compared to the distance of the flight.
-Be willing to connect in Europe for much better availability.
-Availability can change at any time. If you are ready to fly on a whim airlines do typically open up awards the day of or the day before a flight. Otherwise a couple months in advance is a typical sweet spot.
-Realize that not all partners will be displayed and you may need to do your own research and call to find partner availability.
-Airline search engines are only so powerful. Use free stopovers and open-jaws to your advantage. If you are flying from somewhere besides NYC just search from NYC-Tel Aviv instead of from Los Angeles to Tel Aviv. You can always piece together an award by searching for Los Angeles-NYC separately then NYC-Tel Aviv, especially if you are willing to have a long connection, change airports in NYC, or are willing to stay overnight in NYC.
-The same goes for tickets from NYC.  Search from other gateways like Toronto and Philadelphia and piece together the flights to get there afterward. Consider searching from NYC to European cities and piece together an award from Europe to Israel. You may find availability from NYC to London and then from Paris to Tel Aviv but a computer would never put that open jaw ticket together. Instead you can check out London and Paris on the way to Tel Aviv. Maybe you’ll even get to check out Venice and Rome on the way home. Sometimes you can even save miles by doing that!
-Don’t forget to book a free domestic trailing flight anytime in the year after you arrive back to your destination.
-Find award availability before transferring miles. Once they’re transferred they can’t be reversed!
-Need help? You can post your travel dates and which miles you have in this DDF thread and ask for help. Consider offering a monetary or mileage reward to the forum member that can come up with the best award ticket to meet your needs and you may find that suggestions will come flooding in!

Round-trip rates NYC-TLV-NYC:

Star Alliance:
Nonstop flights from North America include Air Canada from Toronto, United from Newark, and USAirways from Philadelphia. These flights all have lie-flat business class seating and have no first class.

Star Alliance offers the best availability for flights to Israel by leaps and bounds. Besides for the nonstop flights from North America there are many options via Europe in coach, business, and first class worth looking into including Swiss via Zurich, Lufthansa via Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, and Munich, Brussels via Brussels, Austrian via Vienna, Turkish via Istanbul, SAS via Copenhagen, Singapore via Frankfurt, Aegean via Athens, LOT via Warsaw, or a mix of carriers like United from Newark to one of dozens of European cities and a European carrier to Tel Aviv.
By utilizing free stopovers and open jaws the possibilities are endless if you take the time to research your options leg by leg.

You can search for Star Alliance award availability on sites like and

Rates are for travel using the airline’s miles below for travel on any partner airlines.  Remember that policies follow the miles that you have so if you have USAirways miles you can’t fly one-way on United, but if you have United miles you can fly one-way on USAirways,

Best overall for Star Alliance travel due to lack of fuel surcharges and flexible routing and change rules:
-United: 80K coach, 120K business, 150K first.
-Transfer partners: Chase Ultimate Rewards partner at a 1:1 ratio.
-Fuel surcharges: None.
-Mileage expiration: United miles require activity every 18 months or none if you have a United credit card.
Having the United credit card also gets you access to expanded saver and standard award availability.
-One-way awards: Allowed for half the amount of a round-trip.
-Stopovers: United allows for 1 free stopover AND 1 free Open jaw.
-Changes/Cancellation: United allows free date and routing changes, but changes to the origin or destination city or cancellation costs $150 for non-elites.
-Expedite/Close-in fee: $75 within 21 days, waived for United Club cardholders.
-Infant fees: 10% of full fare.
-United also has a round-the-world award that includes up to 16 flights in a single direction across the globe for 180K coach, 260K business, 350K first.
Bottom line: United is awesome for having a robust website, free date changes, one-way tickets, and for never charging a fuel surcharge.

The lowest mileage rates for travel on United and USAirways flights without fuel surcharges:
-ANA: 60K coach, 90K business, 140K first.
-Transfer partners: AMEX Membership Rewards partner at a 1:1 ratio and Starwood transfer partner at a 20K:25K ratio.
-Fuel surcharges: Apply on all airlines except United and USAirways.
-Mileage expiration: 3 years after they are earned regardless of activity.
-One-way awards: Officially not allowed but there are “workarounds.”
-Stopovers: ANA allows for 4 stopovers, though each additional flight will add to the fuel surcharges.
-Changes/Cancellation: ANA allows free date changes, but other changes or cancellation results in a 3,000 mile penalty.
-Expedite/Close-in fee: None.
Bottom line: ANA is awesome if you can find United or USAirways nonstop availability. Otherwise expect to get slammed with fuel surcharges. However bear in mind that fuel surcharges are the worst over the Atlantic, so if you can find United or USAirways availability to anywhere in Europe then the surcharges for a flight from Europe to Tel Aviv on any other airline should be relatively minor.

Best Starwood transfer option for Star Alliance flights besides for travel on United or USAirways:
-USAirways: 80K coach, 120K business, 180K first.
-Transfer partners: Starwood transfer partner at a 20K:25K ratio.
-Fuel surcharges: None, although there is a $50 award ticketing fee.
-Mileage expiration: USAirways miles require activity every 18 months.
-One-way awards: Not allowed.
-Stopovers: USAirways allows for 1 free stopover OR 1 free Open jaw.
-Changes/Cancellation: There is a $150 charge to change or cancel an award ticket
USAirways is draconian in not allowing any changes to partner award tickets once travel has begun.
-Expedite/Close-in fee: $75 within 21 days
-Infant fees: 10% of full fare.
-Partner airline awards must be booked over the phone.
Bottom line: The miles aren’t as great as United’s but besides for their ticketing fee you won’t be hit with fuel surcharges. Note that USAirways will be merging with American and migrating to OneWorld over the next couple years.

Best American Express transfer option for Star Alliance flights besides for travel on United or USAirways:
-Air Canada: 80K coach, 135K business, 190K first.
-Transfer partners: AMEX Membership Rewards partner at a 1:1 ratio and Starwood transfer partner at a 20K:25K ratio.
Note that Aeroplan points can be transferred to USAirways at a 10.84 ratio via
-Fuel surcharges: If you fly on these carriers you will pay a fuel surcharge: Adria, Air Canada, ANA, Asiana, Austrian, LOT Polish, Lufthansa, TAP Portugal, and THAI.
If you fly on these carriers you will not pay a fuel surcharge: Aegean, Air China, Air New Zealand, Avianca/TACA, Brussels, Copa, Croatia, EgyptAir, Ethiopian, SAS, Singapore, South African, Swiss, TAM, Turkish, United, and USAirways.
-Mileage expiration: Air Canada miles require activity every 12 months to keep them active. They also expire 7 years after they are earned regardless of activity.
-One-way awards: Allowed for about 68% of the award cost of a round-trip.
-Stopovers: Air Canada generously allows for 2 free stopovers, so you can check out 2 American or European cities in addition to Tel Aviv for the same amount of miles!
-Changes/Cancellation: There is a $90 charge to change or cancel an award ticket and a $180 charge to cancel within 21 days of departure.
-Expedite/Close-in fee: None.
-Infant fees: Flat fee of just $50 in coach, $100 in business, and $125 in first.
Bottom line: Air Canada is very good due to generous infant and stopover policies, just beware of the airlines that they collect a fuel surcharge for.

Best for low one-way rates with no fuel surcharges on United and USAirways with very low change and cancellation fees plus the ability to fly on Singapore flights in business and first class to Israel via Frankfurt:
-Singapore: 75K coach, 115K business, 150K first.
-Transfer partners: AMEX Membership Rewards partner at a 1:1 ratio and Starwood transfer partner at a 20K:25K ratio.
-Fuel surcharges: Apply on all airlines except United and USAirways.
-Mileage expiration: 3 years after they are earned regardless of activity.
-One-way awards: Allowed for half the amount of a round-trip.
-Stopovers: 1 free stopover
-Changes/Cancellation: $20 change fee, $30 cancellation fee.
-Expedite/Close-in fee: None.
Bottom line: American Express points transfer to Singapore faster than they do to ANA. Plus with Singapore miles you can fly on Singapore from NYC to Tel Aviv on Singapore to Frankfurt in business or first class and then to Tel Aviv on Lufthansa which you can’t do with other miles. Additionally you can book one-ay awards and change and cancel fees are very low.

Best option for Lufthansa and Swiss business and first class flights:
-Miles & More Group (Adria, Austrian, Brussels, Croatia, LOT Polish, Lufthansa, and Swiss): For departures from the USA nonstop to Tel Aviv: 80K coach, 135K business. For departures from the USA to Tel Aviv via Europe: 100K coach, 185K business, 290K first. For departures from Israel to the USA nonstop or via Europe for Miles & More accounts with an Israeli address on file: 60K coach, 105K business, 170K first.
-Transfer partners: Starwood transfer partner at a 20K:25K ratio.
-Fuel surcharges: Apply on all airlines except USAirways.
-Mileage expiration: Miles expire 36 months after they are earned regardless of activity.
-One-way awards: Allowed for half the amount of a round-trip.
-Stopovers: 2 free stopovers.
-Changes/Cancellation: There is a $60 charge to change or cancel an award ticket.
-Expedite/Close-in fee: None.
-Infant fees: None except for airport departure taxes.
-Children ages 2-11: Receive a 25% discount on the mileage requirement on Miles & More flights.
Bottom line: The real beauty of Miles & More is the expanded award availability. If you want to travel in First Class on Swiss or Lufthansa then you’ll greatly appreciate the expanded availability as booking first class in advance on these airlines is nearly impossible with partner miles.  However you’ll need lots of miles for an extremely expensive 3 region award if you are departing from the USA.  Infant and children policies are excellent. Beware that fuel surcharges are a killer though!

Oneworld availability to Israel can be tough to find without fuel surcharges. Flights to Israel include Air Berlin via Berlin and Dusseldorf, BA via London, Iberia via Madrid, and Royal Jordanian via Amman.  BA availability is good, but has high fuel surcharges.

El Al is not part of OneWorld (and therefore can’t be booked with miles from other airlines like BA) but they are non-alliance partners with AA. It’s more advantageous to book El Al travel with AA miles than it is with El Al miles (the miles received from the HAS Advantage card) because El Al adds fuel surcharges onto their own tickets, but you do not pay any fuel surcharges for booking El Al tickets with AA miles. However you can only book coach or business on El Al when using AA miles, first class must be booked with El Al points. El Al has nonstop flights from JFK, Newark, Los Angeles, and Toronto to Tel Aviv.
You can check OneWorld availability on flawed sites such as,, and (BA or Qantas frequent flyer account required) You can check El Al availability on (Matmid account required). You can also check availability by calling AA.

Best OneWorld option for nonstop travel to Israel and for travel via Europe on El Al without fuel surcharges.:
-American: 80K coach off-peak (10/15-05/15 annually) via Europe, 90K coach on El Al flights from North America or peak via Europe, 135K business on El Al flights from North America or via Europe, 180K first via Europe.
-Transfer partners: Starwood transfer partner at a 20K:25K ratio.
-Fuel surcharges: Apply for flights on partners British Airways (very high) and Iberia (nominal).
-Mileage expiration: AA miles require activity every 18 months.
-One-way awards: Allowed for half the amount of a round-trip.
-Stopovers: Allowed at the North American gateway city.
-Changes/Cancellation: AA allows free date and routing changes, but changes to the origin or destination city or cancellation costs $150 for non-elites.
-Expedite/Close-in fee: $75 within 21 days for non-elites.
-Infant fees: 10% of full fare.
-Some partner airline awards must be booked over the phone.
-The best shot at availability without paying fuel surcharges would be to take AA to London or anywhere else in Europe and then El Al from London or anywhere else in Europe to Tel Aviv. This routing would be 80,000 miles between October 15-May 15 or the same 90,000 miles as the nonstop El Al flight from the US during the summer.
You need to call American to book travel on El Al. You should do your research first by opening a Matmid account and searching for awards on Remember to search for flights from all of El Al’s cities in North America and in Europe as you can use other American and partner flights to reach those El Al cities.
-American has an alternate OneWorld Explorer award chart which allows for up to 16 stopovers starting from 90,000 miles in coach, 115,000 miles in business, and 150,000 miles in first, but the rules of this complicated award that require at least 2 OneWorld carriers besides AA and excludes partners such as El Al are beyond the scope of this article.
Bottom line: AA is great for El Al and is a decent option for connecting in Europe, though watch out for BA surcharges.

Lowest OneWorld rates to Israel without fuel surcharges on Air Berlin:
-British Airways: 60K coach on Air Berlin, 65K coach on other carriers, 100K business on Air Berlin, 130K business on other carriers, 195K first.
-Transfer partners: AMEX Membership Rewards partner at a 1:1 ratio, Chase Ultimate Rewards partner at a 1:1 ratio, and Starwood transfer partner at a 20K:25K ratio.
-Fuel surcharges: Apply for all Trans-Atlantic flights except on Air Berlin and Aer Lingus via Ireland.
You can drastically reduce fuel surcharges for travel on Iberia via Madrid by transferring your BA Avios into Iberia Avios. You must have your Iberia account open for 3 months before you can do such a transfer.
-Mileage expiration: BA miles require activity every 36 months.
-One-way awards: Allowed for half the amount of a round-trip.
-Stopovers: Each leg costs additional mileage, but you can stopover at any connection city for as long as you want.
-Changes/Cancellation: $40.
-Expedite/Close-in fee: None
-Infant fees: Instead of cash, BA charges just 10% of the adult mileage required on international segments.
-Some partner airline awards must be booked over the phone.
Bottom line: The infant policy is great and if you can find Air Berlin availability for your dates you can grab a real steal.  See this post for help on finding Air Berlin availability.

Lowest OneWorld mileage rates to Israel:
-JAL: 50K coach, 80K business, 115K first.
-Transfer partners: Starwood transfer partner at a 20K:25K ratio.
-Fuel surcharges: Applies to most travel.
-Mileage expiration: 3 years after they are earned regardless of activity.
-One-way awards: Not allowed.
-Stopovers: JAL allows for 2 stopovers, though each additional flight will add to the fuel surcharges.
-Changes/Cancellation: JAL allows free date changes, but other changes or cancellation results in a 3,000 mile penalty.
-Expedite/Close-in fee: None
Bottom line: The fuel surcharges will likely eat away at the low mileage requirements though if you’re short on miles it’s worth looking into.

The only no fuel-surcharge option to fly on British Airways:
-LAN: 112K coach via Amman, 154K coach via London, 224K business via Amman, 308K business via London, 385K first via London.
-Transfer partners: Starwood transfer partner at a 20K:50K ratio.
-Fuel surcharges: None.
-Mileage expiration: LAN kilometers expire 3 years after they are earned unless you take a paid LAN flight.
-One-way awards: Not allowed.
-Stopovers: Each leg costs additional mileage, but you can stopover at any connection city for as long as you want.
-Changes/Cancellation: Date changes are free, cancellations carry a varying kilometer penalty.
-Expedite/Close-in fee: None
-Partner airline awards must be booked over the phone.
-LAN is interesting due to the excellent Starwood transfer ratio and that they are the only airline that will book you on British Airways without collecting fuel surcharges. It may take about 155K Starpoints to fly from New York to Israel via London in BA First, but at least you won’t be paying fuel surcharges!
Bottom line: The only way to fly BA without fuel surcharges. Several DDF readers have flown to Israel via Amman using LAN kilometers without any problems.

Skyteam generally has the worst award availability. You can try searching some Skyteam availability on and Options to Israel besides Delta’s nonstop JFK flight are on Czech via Prague, KLM via Amsterdam, Air France via Nice or Paris, Aeroflot via Moscow, and Alitalia via Rome.

Best overall Skyteam option:
-Flying Blue (Air France/KLM): 25K coach during a promo period, 50K coach otherwise, 50K business during a promo period, 100K business otherwise.
-Transfer partners: AMEX Membership Rewards partner at a 1:1 ratio, Starwood transfer partner at a 20K:25K ratio.
-You can check which cities have promo awards for select dates here. Fuel surcharges will apply.
-Fuel surcharges: Apply on all airlines except Delta.
-Mileage expiration: Flying Blue miles expire 20 months unless you credit a Skyteam flight to Flying Blue.
-One-way awards: Allowed for half the amount of a round-trip.
-Stopovers: Flying Blue allows for 1 free stopover.
-Expedite/Close-in fee: None.
-Infant fees: 10% of full fare.
Bottom line: Very low mileage rates, though fuel surcharges for airlines besides Delta are hefty. Delta travel can be a bargain though. Expanded award availability for travel on Air France and KLM.

Best option for some Skyteam travel excluding for Delta and some Air France/KLM flights:
-Delta: 80K coach, 120K business.
-Transfer partners: AMEX Membership Rewards partner at a 1:1 ratio, Starwood transfer partner at a 20K:25K ratio.
-Fuel surcharges: Apply on select partners but generally won’t apply to/from Israel.
-Mileage expiration: None.
-One-way awards: Not allowed.
-Stopovers: Delta allows for 1 free stopover OR 1 free Open jaw.
-Changes/Cancellation: There is a $150 charge to change or cancel an award ticket. No changes or cancellations are allowed within 3 days of the flight.
-Expedite/Close-in fee: None.
-Infant fees: 10% of full fare.
-It can be brutal trying to find Delta low award availability and Delta’s terrible website only makes it more difficult. Plus Delta used to be a good option for booking Air France/KLM but now availability when booking those direct with Flying Blue is much better than when booking with Delta.
Bottom line: Find availability before transferring to Delta.

Only a good option for redeeming for ultra-expensive First Class nonstop to Tel Aviv:
-El Al 1,400 coach, 3,000 business, 5,000 first.
-Transfer partners: AMEX Membership Rewards partner at a 50:1 ratio, making a coach ticket 70K, a business ticket 150K, and a first class ticket 250K.
-Fuel surcharges: $349 for JFK-TLV.
-Mileage expiration: Points from flights and bonus promotions expire after 3 years regardless of activity and base points from partners and transfers do not expire.
-One-way awards: Allowed for half the amount of a round-trip.
-Expedite/Close-in fee: None.
Bottom line: Only transfer points to El Al if you need to fly in first class to Israel as AA can’t book El Al first class. In first class you’ll enjoy what’s likely to be the best glatt/mehadrin kosher food in the sky, but you’ll burn a lot of miles and be hit with a $349 surcharge for the pleasure. Plus the seat pales in comparison to every other First Class product out there, though it is at least lie-flat.

Know of a better way to get to Israel with miles? Find a mistake? Have something to add? Post a comment!

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158 Comments On "Getting To Israel Using Miles"

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



hook me up, I need flights between Rosh hashana and YK and i can fly back up to full week after sukkos, pref EWR or PHL but could travel into NYC. I can’t find a thing!


I’d suggest reading up on the DansDeals Forums to learn how to search.
It’s an art. It requires searching multiple times per day, especially as it gets closer to the flight when they open more seats up. It also requires knowing how to use stopovers and open jaws to your advantage in piecing together award flights and then being able to talk agents into booking them for you.

That being said I have already booked many friends for this Sukkos so it definitely can be done if you take the time to learn how it’s done.


Dan, I want to fly w delta and I need 175K pts. (double if I go w my wife)
I only have currently amex 100k its, but have bet. CitiAA, Chase Ultimate, BA and United I have over 300K pts.
Any suggestion how/if I can xfer to Delta


really great article! very clear and informative.
whats open jaw?


i have over30000 primer rewardsan di have a starwood card anda aa card and hasc card where is teh best place for me to transfer it


Great post dan! thanks!
Quick Question- you mentioned “-ANA: 60K coach, 90K business, 140K first.” However, ANA’s website doesnt seem to mention tel aviv as an option to fly to. Am I doing something wrong?


If I already bought ($) a JFK-TLV-JFK with Delta (direct), you said I could add a free stopover, can I add LAX or CDG so that it would be JFK-TLV-JFK-CDG?


This was the best article ever put up on this website.



OPEN JAW is when you fly from one destination but return from another, eg JFK-LHR return FRA-JFK


what a piece of work,
thanks dan !


One thing to remember with ANA, changes & cancelations need to be done 7 days prior to starting the trip


Side note: recently booked an award ticket on lufthansa through united. United has the least informed agents which takes HUCA to a whole new level. I had to fight just to get the close-in fees waived as a Club member etc….

Yehoshua Melech

Thank you Dan this is fantastic.


Dan, I like the United program for Israel. I now use the HAS card for all of my charges so as to accumulate points for ElAl, but I find that 1)one has to pay steep fuel charges 2)they don’t have seats during high season. Do you suggest that I switch to a card that accumulates United and if so is there one without an annual fee?


Dan thanks this is such a great sum up, how about making it a sticky in DDF as so many people start threads about it?
Also, would you ever please discuss in depth, open jaws and stopover?

David 14

Hi Dan
When I fly El Al through a purchased ticket is it rather to claim it into my Matmid account or to AA?


@David 14:
I would definitely credit it to AA.


hi Dan-
Thanks very much for this…I’m assuming for the Israelis in the audience everything here is applicable for TLV->NYC->TLV as well?




Great post – thank you!


Hi Dan I have 160,000 AA miles, 200,000 united and 100,000 ba avios I would like to go to Israel with my wife and maybe 2 children anytime between succos and purim with a possible stop in London of maybe only Israel what’s my best option and how about using milage for hotel stays in Israel
Thanks Dan


i have 250,000 amex points.. i want to fly to israel with my wife and i, whats the best way to do it?

Benjamin Shandalov

For years we have flown To Israel on Lufthansa using UA points. Have you checked United Mileage Plus for “Saver Awards” recently? Saver awards are 80K for coach and 120K for Business. Pick any date for the next 6-8 months and all you will find for 1-stop travel from Chicago is 150K for Coach and 300,000K for Business…and that is only if you are very lucky.If you want to make 2 stops you may have a chance for the Saver Awards. I think Premier, 1k etc. members may be able to get saver awards, but not the regular travelers. American and AAdvantage is not better.
Would like to hear from anyone who can tell me any tricks.
By the way, you can get the cheap awards to Europe, but you are out of luck if you try to get to Israel from Europe. I have Lufhansa points too, and even using their own points there are no flights available.

ami travel

isreal succos: if you have 30k united miles fly to athens from phl on sunday before YK or fly after YK on thursday (a little tight might end up in athens for shabbos) then take a one way from ath to tlv for about $200.
the way back do a regular. tlv to nyc there should be options for after succos. total is 70k miles united plus about $250.

ami travel

might be better to do it as a multi city on united in case you cancel you only have ine fee. also you can check with united the luggage policy. they might transfer it for free to elal or the other airlines in athens.


Thanks for this great post!! I hope there can be one in the near future covering this:

“-American has an alternate OneWorld Explorer award chart which allows for up to 16 stopovers starting from 90,000 miles in coach, 115,000 miles in business, and 150,000 miles in first, but the rules of this complicated award that require at least 2 OneWorld carriers besides AA and excludes partners such as El Al are beyond the scope of this article.”


great job dan as usuall. second when booking with AA miles with el al u call up el al or AA
? u said its better to book with AA than with e al


Dan — I don’t understand what you write about fuel surcharges on AA booked ElAl flights. Why is it better to fly AA to Europe and connect to a ElAl flight there (booked through AA) rather than fly ElAl non-stop e.g. JFK-TLV (booked through AA)?


Lots of options as laid out in the post, just depends on availability.

The options are all in the post.

@Benjamin Shandalov:
Don’t search from Chicago-Tel Aviv, search just for the individual segments you want and piece them together.

If you have AA miles you call AA. How would El Al know how many AA miles you have?

1. It’s hard to find nonstop availability on El Al from the US, so if you can’t then search via Europe.
2. It’s cheaper via Europe during off-peak.


how much is the fuel surcharge on ba? iberia? flying blue?


BA and Iberia comparison here:
Flying Blue varies widely based on the actual airline and class of service.


thanx for the quick reply and thanx for great post


When it comes to Matmid, Diners Club points are 35% better than Amex.
Check it out.


Great post, Dan. IIRC, though, UA only charges 150k for First. No?


Dan moshebatchy is correct first is only 150k on united


Not too many people have Diner’s and it hasn’t even been available to open in the US for a number of years already, which is why I didn’t include it.

Thanks for the correction!
It’s actually a mistake on the interactive award chart as well!
“Round-Trip Business Saver Award, 120,000…Add 50,000 miles for First Class when both Business Class and First Class are offered”
Then again the interactive award chart still mentions Virgin Atlantic as an option in the same space. 🙄

Yehoshua Melech

This is a great article on how to *burn* miles. For noobies, it would very helpful to provide links in this same article (either inline or at the end) for how to best *earn* the miles on each of the alliances/airlines.

Happy Tu B’Av,


@Eli: Hey Eli, I’d trade you Amex for Delta flights for some chase points.



If I am planning a trip to israel next summer based on rewards/miles how far in advance do I need to book? The longer I wait the more miles I will have.


WoW! Thanks for answering and for such an informative artice!So excited to see this post today.


are you jewish?


Hi dan, can you help me out? I have a sapphire preferred visa and I want to get a preferred world master card and they wont let me. They tell me that i cant have both. Can you tell me how you managed to get both? thanks


Why are you stating 80,000 points on united for rt? I can’t find anything for less than 75,000 one way?

Aay B.

@dan, @ddawg,
Regarding searching for star alliance TLV flights on the ANA website, there is a loophole – where you can use the star alliance search tool without having any miles (signing up for membership is required though).

When you log to your ANA account, the “Use Star Alliance Member Airlines” button will be grayed out if you don’t have miles in your account, so instead click on the blue “ANA International Flight Awards” button

Search for an international route that ANA serves, like NRT (Tokyo Narita) to HKG (Hong Kong). You enter these abbreviations in the APO airport code box and click next

Your fake results will show, so you can just scroll to the bottom and select the blue “Use Star Alliance Member Airlines” button.

You now have access to the Star Alliance tool. You can enter in any city pair and get accurate Star Alliance availability.

(credit: ThePointsGuy)


Let me know what you end up doing. I’m trying to book a trip to Israel as well. I’d like to make a stop in England on one of the ways.

Anything else we should be aware of on the LAN option?


It’s not a science. Check multiple times a day as seats can open at any time.

Jedi mind games…

Just have them close the Visa and open the MC. Plus you’ll get the points again.


What do you mean by that?


Is there a way to link a Costco Amex card to get mileage? There is no yearly membership fee with the Costco Amex card and I am hoping that I there is a way to also use it as a mileage card and save the hassle of having another credit card to deal with.


i wanna fly to florida with my wife next winter , i have 65k chase points (trough freedom ,sapphire,chase ink .
should i redeem it for 1.6 % $, or should i rather wait and use it to redeem towards millage ,
next winter , where would i save more $ ?


If I use JAL award JFK-TLV-JFK with BA, is there the hefty BA Fuel surcharges?



Get a Starwood card.

BA does not fly JFK-TLV. You would have to fly JFK-LHR-TLV and surcharges will apply.

Howard Marks

We have had great success flying business class using Delta SkyMiles earned on its American Express affinity credit card. As we are empty nesters, we are able to fly between October-March when there is less demand for free seats. As we live in Washington,DC we fly SkyMiles partner Air France from Dulles to Paris-De Gaulle nonstop with a connecting flight to Ben-Gurion. On the way back, Air France has one of the latest morning departures to Europe from Ben-Gurion around 8 am which still gets us back to Washington, DC the same day with a change at De Gaulle.


dan you wrote that for 40,000 starwood points you can get to israel and here you wrote that 20,000 gets 25,000 miles. please explain thank you.


hi dan im looking to fly united airlines with miles to tel aviv for elul zman is it possible thanks


would all of this apply for flights originating in Israel i.e. tlv – jfk – tlv?


hi dan i want to fly to london in the end of october with my wife i have 60k with one pass from chase but whats the best way for me to fly (with the points or to sell them)or how many points will i need


I am planning a Bar Mitzvah with my family. I need to book 3 delta business seats and 2 coach seats, whats the best way of getting cheap miles. I have 1 mill amex points, are there any promos for delta transfer points.



what does ANA stand for?


See Flying Blue.



It’s 60K in coach per person.

No promos for a while now. Read this post for your options and then check availability before transferring.

Google is your friend.


Dan: I am a little confused and dont really understand this article. Would you be able to send me a link to another article or forum that simplifies the process of transferring Starwood points to fly to Israel?

I have strictly used my points for hotels over the years and I am not familiar with transferring points into miles. Thanks


would it be possible to do a tlv-nyc-tlv trip with a stop in london with star alliance mileage. How would I be able to do that if I have all my mileage on United?


hi dan’s,
I got an offer from blue sky american express for 30k points after $500 in purchases within the first three month, no annual fee. Is this offer better then the starwoods offer?


Yes, call them to book.

No, Starpoints are wayyyy more valuable.


Thank you for the informative post.What is my best bet going nyc to lon using MR points or Starpoints.I would say BA VS is out because of the rip-off tax.Any suggestions.Thanks



I have 135,000 miles with Ammex, I would like to fly with my wife and 3 kids + 1 lap baby [total 6 people] for Chanuka, what is the best strategy?


I would say transferring to asia miles is the best to transfer MR points to fly NYC to LHR. They charge 45k round trip economy 80k bushiness and the tax is the same as AA. Am I right?


No, Asia Miles has fuel surcharges.


When I called Asia Miles asking about availability between LHR and JFK they quoted me 45k miles and $177 tax.I think this is the same amont of $ AA would have charged,since one leg is going out of the UK,and its always expensive to depart from a UK airport.If I was flying Brussels to NY the tax they quoted was $55.So am I getting something wrong? Do they add fuel surcharges at the final booking stage?
If so, what is my best bet going Lhr – JFK using MR points?


The quote for 45k miles and $177 was if flying AA, BA was with the regular fuel surcharges.


hey dan,

how do you book to israel for only 20K starwood points?


Trying to go to Israel between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur and back day after Simchat Torah what is the cheapest way?

If I have Air Canada points how do I book when there are no openings on Aeroplan for that time period

Sorry I am leaving from Toronto Canada


I am a newbie at this miles thing. I just got a Amex Starwood card.

My goal is to fly to Israel with my wife within the year. No timeframe, I just want to go.

1) Is the Starwoods the best Credit Card option for this goal is there something better out there?

2) What would be the quickest way to achieve my goal?

3) Anything else I should consider?




I have been accumulating A LOT of HAS advantage points. 100k plus so far. With has I think it takes 56,000 points on MATMID ELAL to get “free” ticket. No idea on fuel surcharges etc.

Should I sell my points for 1.6 cents each or use for the ticket. I will need 4 tickets for summer 2013.

I also have about 80k AMEX.


Keeping it simple, looking for the best way to buy JFK-TLV-JFK
business class tickets without any stopover.
Thank you in advance.


have aeroplan miles 240,000 (for 3 tickets) want to fly USAIR direct from Phillie to Tel Aviv next June 10/11/12 2013 and return JULY 1/2/3/4 2013, i’ve been calling aeroplan for over a month at least twice a wk, been on the tel for over 30 hrs in total and the US AIR reward direct flights NEVER come up. can you advise how i can get a us air direct flight from phillie to tel aviv with those dates using aeroplan miles?? i’m also willing to fly from dulles to tel aviv with one stop (but would rather not, i’m travelling by myself with 2 kids. thanks so much for your input!


is it too early to book for next june 2013?


What is the least amount of points you need to fly to Israel from cleveland? I see on united website 80,000. Is there a better way to search?
I have united miles and some starwood.


Hello Dan
Thanks for all your posts. I am still a bit lost not really sure where to start. I would like to send my wife to Israel to visit her family. She’s pregnant so I’d like to put her into a business class seat. I don’t mind paying out of pocket for a economy ticket and using points for the upgrade. I have ink bold points available (100k) do you think this is manageable?
All the mavens feel free to chime in..


i have 120000 points i wane go lag bomer to isreal direct flight whts the best way to do it ?


I am new to, and very much impressed by your webiste. I noticed you refer to as being a ‘flawed’ web site. What do you mean by this? How can one take advantage of this?


I am a confused senior citizen. I want to go to Israel for a month, leaving first week in December and stop in London for a week on the way back. I have 50,000 Avios, 85,000 United, 25,000 Delta and 20,000 Ultimate Chase. How should I book or should I sell some miles and use that to pay for a ticket? PLEASE HELP. I have not done this before.


Ana is also an Amex transfer partner (not instant)


For a confused senior citizen you sure know how to rack up points.

With that being said.

I know how to find Iberia travel using BA avios. Buy how do I get air Berlin or lingus travel using avios?


how would I go about booking tickets or checking availabiltly via Flying Blue using my star wood points? im a bit confused where I need to transfer points to etc…please clarify.
thnx DAN…your great!


Hi Dan- I read your post and I am green with envy of your knowledge;) We (5 ppl) need to be in Israel for a Bar m. on Jan 1. Want to leave Dec 25-26 and stay 2 weeks. Don’t mind stopovers. We have 90k Amex and 100k UR points. Obviously looking for the best possible deal! Can you offer an opinion on which airlines/flights I should spend time researching? Thanks for this great site!

David s.

I have 500,000 Starwood points and i want to fly to israel, please give me step by step instructions how and where to transfer points and how to use the least points posible


You have more than enough United miles to make that happen.
You’ll have to call them to book such a ticket.

Air Berlin award space can be found on and
Aer Lingus requires a phone call to BA.

Go to to open a Flying Blue account and to check Flying Blue availability.

See the tips section for a forum link that may help you.

@David s.:
That’s what I just did. Read the post and look for the options that accept Starpoints!


Dan: All KLM flights from JFK to Israel are 25,000 each way. Where do you see 12,500 miles each way? I tried different dates and different time-frames. All come up 25k each way.


@: You can fly to Paris for 25,000 miles during the promo period, but not Israel.


@Joe: Joe, in your case your best bet is with United since you have enough United miles and you can still transfer your UR points to United, you need 80k miles for an economy ticket or 120k miles for a business class ticket , both at the sacer rate, and with your United miles you can fly either on United and or other Star Alliance airlines like Lufthansa, Swiss, Austrian etc. You can have a stop over to London with no problems.


Will United allow me to stop over in NYC on the way back from TLV for a few months and then continue to LAX? Does that have to be done over the phone?


It’s tough to find availability from NYC.
But check out TLV-IAD for example:



@Dan: Thanks Dan. It only works one way though. I’m actually trying to leave from Miami. Thanks for your help.


You can fly for 25K Flying Blue miles plus $657 in fuel surcharges round-trip from Atlanta to Tel Aviv right now.
Use 9K Avios to get to Altanta.

Of course if you fly Delta for 50K round-trip you won’t pay those crazy fuel surcharges.


@Dan: Thanks a lot.


Thanks to all for the advice.


“Don’t forget to book a free domestic trailing flight anytime in the year after you arrive back to your destination”–
can you explain what that is?


I appreciate your response, ok…so once I open a fly blue from air france how would I then book a ticket on delta using my starwood points? it is a bit confusing and the post doest explain step by step how to avoid the fuel surcharge. thnx again!



You transfer points to Flying Blue on or by calling Starwood.
You book travel on, regardless of if the flight is on Air France, KLM, or Delta.


Dan, if I use AA to book Elal, how many miles do I need for Nonstop Jfk to Tel Aviv DURING PEAK TIMES? I know it is 90,000 during non peak, but it does not say how many miles during peak and nonstop? Thank You

dave 23

hay dan i want to start getting the best out of my miles whats the best card to use to get miles to israel


United charged my friend this week $50 for date change


I am trying to buy a first class ticket:
Going from LAX to Israel on 1/31/13 (stopping in JFK for 4 days).
Returning TLV to LAX on 2/11/13 (stopping in Milan for a 2 days).
A: What is the best way to go about this?
B: Will these stops be considered separate legs, or can it be considered one round trip?
C: In general which airline should we go with, when it comes to first class millage?


What do you mean by :
-Don’t forget to book a free domestic trailing flight anytime in the year after you arrive back to your destination.
what’s that? ( I assumed stopovers have a limit of fews days, week at most , no?)



I fly twice a year to Israel from ORD and use miles from Has to buy the ticket during high season. I only want to fly El Al entering Israel due to security. What do you recommend doing? I also have AA credit cards.


whats the best way to use 50000 amex points to book a ticket from tel aviv to jfk? (jan 16-jan 27)


What is the best use of Amex points to get to Frankfurt in June 2013 for a trip of our family of 4? We have 400K Amex. Also have some AA points.
Would not mind adding a leg to Tel Aviv if using same number of points. Thanks, Dan. Love this site!


I have miles on both American Airlines and Delta. Which can I use for non-stop round trip NYC/Israel ?


-Don’t forget to book a free domestic trailing flight anytime in the year after you arrive back to your destination.

Can you tell me where I can read up more about this? ( specifically in regards to a trip to Europe


Do you know any good deals for lag baomer from NYC to tlv business class I have amex platinum points?


tried searching ana and this is what i got
* We cannot accept your request for booking Partner Flight Awards since there are not enough miles in your account.

can you please help




Ok. Wow!! Israel is number 1 on my bucket list. I actualy hope to go this summer w/ our family of four. Would be willing to pay an award booking fee to a pro to book my award tickets…I am surprised how many miles it takes to get there!! From the perpective of the experience on the plane and longues on the way to and from Isreal, which airlines/routes do you prefer. We would definitley want to fly 1st or business class, although I greatly underestimated the # of miles we will need!

Larry D

Hi Dan:
Thinking of Star Alliance flight from PHL/EWR to TLV. Since it’s just over 11,000 miles, it looks like ANA (through AMEX MR) is the lowest cost in mileage. Since I have up to 14,000 miles at no extra charge, would this routing be legal (ewr-fra-tlv-phl-mia-ewr) ?? This includes a “free round trip” to miami and keeps me under 14,000. Worth pursuing?


What about Alaska Arline ? anything useful there ?


“$75 within 21 days, waived for United Club cardholders.” isnt that only for the milage plus card?


Wow, amazing write up!


My last comment posted prematurely by mistake.

Two questions –

1) when transferring avios to Iberia – wats the expiration on Iberia avios?

2) When booking on Iberia using Iberia avois, is the NO yq, or just a drastic savings but still some yq?



I fly out of Toronto and since it is almost impossible to book an aeroplan ticket to TLV, I have used my mileage to fly around Europe in Business (stopovers, etc.) and then bought a round trip ticket from europe to israel for $400 in coach (3.5 hours from Rome or Milan, 4.5 from Brussels).
Places I have visited on my different trips:
1) London, Milan, Venice, TLV
2) Paris (less than 24 hours), Vienna, Venice, Antwerp, TLV
3) Rome, Milan, Florence, TLV


Such a timely post, I’ve just decided to take time off of work and head to Israel for a few months. I’ve always enjoyed saving money but especially with this game plan. I’m a pretty good researcher, check out the travel sites often and don’t settle until I find the price I like. Maybe this wouldn’t be hard for me but I don’t really have so many credit cards (AND I read this site weekly! I know…) I have American Express Delta Gold, US Airways Mastercard, a Discover that doesn’t really do much. Any suggestions other than getting credit cards? ANYONE WHO WANTS TO HELP: I PLAN TO HEAD OUT MID open to other dates. Leaving from Cincinnati but probably flying from Dayton – much cheaper. If anyone has any ideas, suggestions or sites to go to please reach out!


Dan ur a tzaddik with the questions u put up with.
I think it’s time for u to write a book 😀


Dan, in the ‘Saver Award’ portion of your article you mention “Don’t forget to book a free domestic trailing flight anytime in the year after you arrive back to your destination.” i don’t understand, how do you book a free domestic ticket after flying to Israel?


Hey Dan ,
i have about 150K Starwoods and about 150K UR miles. Doesn’t it make more sense if i will be flying to Israel in coach that i should just sell my miles for 1.8 cents each , take the $5,400 and buy tickets without miles ? if i could get tickets from NY to TLV for less than $1200 Each , ill still have $600 cash left over ?

its seems like with the miles the best rates i could be is 60-80K miles from NY to TLV and then have to go through all the hassle of finding the flights i want

What are your thoughts



@officeMan, also, if you pay for your ticket w/money then you’ll get about 12,000 miles for the flight. that’s worth abt $150 too.

Andrew L

Yes. That can make sense. Especially since you will now be earning miles for the flights.


I had a question about transferring Starwood points. A few weeks back I was looking into booking Iberia tickets to Israel with Avios points. I had Avios points and wanted to use those in addition to my Starwood points. But Starwood told me if I did a transfer it would take around 3 weeks to go into my Avios account. I didn’t do it because I didn’t know if the award seats on Iberia would still be available 3 weeks later. If they weren’t available I would be a left with alot of Avios that are not as valuable as Starwood. How do you work around that? I didn’t want to devalue my Starwood points…


@bud , @Andrew L

Thanks , it seems like miles really pay off when your booking Biz or 1st class tkts… or SPG points are great for hotel etc


what is the best credit card to use to book tickets. i am booking tomorrow? thanks


I need two one-way tiks from Israel to JFK….and want to fly MAY 1st [flexible]
I have 96,000 Amex premier reward points in one account and 38,000 and 49,000 Amer Aadvantage point in 2 separate accounts.
I called Amex Travel–was told my 96,000 Amex points are worth only $960 against a Delta ticket. I’m not using them.
I know I need 40,000 for 1 stopover and 45,000 nonstop thru AA and flying ELAL with minimal surcharges…but I’d need to buy 2000 or 7000 AA miles for one of the tix.

Any suggestions re my AMEX premier reward points?

Any suggestions


When u fly peak season with 90k AA points can that get u direct or do u need via europe?


I have booked 2 RT tickets JFK-Tel Aviv using AA Miles (90,000 each)end of May… Iberia – Madrid – Tel Aviv… Was this the best use of all these miles? How can I best get the seats I want for all legs of the flight?


on another note- what can happen if i open up the amex business card with the 50,000 bonus points now even though i don’t make any money? is it good enough if my husband makes money on the books? thanks!


@Dan: Please note: if you can’t find united availability tlv-ewr you can book tlv-phl with a stop in ewr and miss the last seg.


@Yitzy: talking about united (or ana?)

Uncle Mo

I have hundreds of thousands of HAS credit card points that are transferable to ELAL Matmid miles (56,000 points = 1400 Matmid points) but ELAL never has any seats available. Does anyone have any ideas how to somehow get seats on ELAL or any other way i can use these?


@Uncle Mo: Sell the points


I have a very large UR balance of points. I need to fly to Israel in August. I have tried to follow and read up on the ways above, but not sure what might be my best options. Can someone shed some light if they know specifically for this time of year what I can do with a large sum of UR points? I dont mind a stop over.


Hi Dan, 2 comments on this post re miles and more
1. I know this sounds weird but trust me i am right if you book miles and more tkt round trip to Israel thru europe as 4 seperate 1 way tkts it will require less miles then if you book it straight to TLV business class.
2. The fuel surcharges are less when you book separate flights than if you book them straight thru 1 ways or round trip. Check it out its totally crazy makes no sense.


I have a Visa Sapphire Preferred and got the 40k sign up bonus. I was told by cs that I could get the Visa converted to MC as a new account w/o a credit pull. Will I get a sign up bonus by switching?


Dan, I have about 2500 Matmid points. Yesterday I tried to get see if my dates in August are available, and the ElAl site said that I could get the tickets for 1400 points rt. I didnt book on the spot because i needed to check my schedule. Today I go back to ElA site and low-and-behol, the samedates now costs 5000 points. This is for a flight 6 months from now! Is ElAl playing games? When they see someone inquiring on dates they then boost the fare? Also, have you ever heard of the points cost going down? In other words, is there any point in holding out to see if ElAl will reduce the cost?

Thanks for everything!

elki hass

Question Have a Sapphire and Starwood coming up for renewal for 95.00 Do I try to negotiate and if all else fails pay the fee?


whats the best option to fly from Montreal to Swiss in august


I just called Starwood Preferred Guest program and they told me you can no longer redeem points for ELAL flights; I was under the impression that you could and have accumulated lots of points. Did something change recently or is it not possible to fly ELAL using SPG points?


hi. i have 82000 delta skymiles through am ex. i need two tickets from jfk to israel from july 21-july 28, 2013. what’s my best option? i no longer have a gold am ex card, just the options card. thanx.


How do you book singapore to tlv from jfk? on which website?

zoken uksil

Dan, i read carefully the above comments. i see that you are not answering the “Don’t forget to book a free domestic trailing flight anytime in the year after you arrive back to your destination” what does that mean (you wrote in a different place as well but no explanation)? also, if you piece the pieces together of different segments (united airlines), you need to call an agent to book it and they are charging me $75 for booking with a live person

"work arounds"

Dan you’re awesome!!
can you elaborate a tad on how the workarounds work??
thanx in advance


aadvantage 90k 85.10$


You mentioned a few times when using AA miles on El Al If you are going from NYC you can make a ticket from anywhere in us or Canada thru NYC then separate the local part & have yourself a free local Ticket at another date

When making my reservations with AA using miles for a ticket they said if I don’t take the first leg the whole itinerary will be cancelled.

How do you go about it.


Any way to get South Africa miles? they are very cheap on El Al NYC-TLV 70k econ. 100k. buss + about $19 surcharge


Is it posible to use chase ultimate rewards to book a brussles flight through Star Alliance? if so how can i do that



I am new to this mileage game.. trying to bring my daughter who is living in israel back to new york for the upcoming holidays. my mom has about 80 thousand points with amerian airlines which i believe partners with el al and my husband has about 160 thousand points with delta.

how and where do i start? i have dates. she is ready to come starting in two days and stay until the end of september.

I just feel overwhelmed at how to go about this and try to find her at least hopefully a business class seat as to her recent surgery.

Thank you for your assistance.



you wrote:
“Best overall Skyteam option:
-Flying Blue (Air France/KLM): 25K coach during a promo period”

is it 25K each way, or round trip?



I’ve got 175k UR points and 97k BA Avios and want to fly from BWI-TLV from 7/1-7/15 +/- 4 days. What is the most economical flight choice? Or, should I sell these points and pay cash for the flights(~$3100)?

Thanks for your help.

sara n

We have about 100k HAS points and I wondered how useful it really is for a elal roundtrip TLV ticket or if there’s a surcharge therein.
ThankYou for your helpful service. Sincerely, Sara


Hi Dan,

This was an incredibly helpful thread! Given the 2014/2015 devaluations, changes since the US/AA merger, and changes in routing rules, etc, could I please make a request for a 2015 update for this guide?

Thank you,


Dan-Any chance of an updated post on this? Thanks