While the Middle East is one of Oneworld’s stronger focus areas, service to Israel tends to be more scarce, especially in the premium cabins. British Airways and Iberia offer service to Tel Aviv, but high fuel surcharges often make award travel unattractive. One of the lesser-known non-Oneworld partners of American Airlines is El Al Israel Airlines, the flag carrier of Israel and arguably the best AAdvantage redemption for award travel to Israel.
El Al AAdvantage Redemption Routes
In addition to a comprehensive network to Europe, El Al offer long haul service out of Tel Aviv to/from the following destinations:
- Los Angeles
- New York
- Hong Kong
Aircraft and Service
El Al operates Boeing 747-400 aircraft featuring fully flat beds in business class on their routes to/from New York-JFK and London Heathrow.
However, on Boeing 747-400 routes to Barcelona, Paris-Charles de Gaulle and Bangkok, El Al offers an angled flat business class product, identical to the SpaceBed seats formerly found on Singapore Airlines business class.
Angled flat seats are also offered on all Boeing 777 aircraft which currently serve Los Angeles, Newark, London-Heathrow, Paris-Charles de Gaulle and Hong Kong. While they are not as conducive to sleeping as fully-flat seats, angled flat seats still offer a decent amount of comfort for lounging.
All other routes operated by El Al will feature recliner-style seats in business class – a throwback to the olden days indeed (but not in the good way!) Routes operated by the Boeing 767 do offer iPad entertainment in business class, these aircraft serve the remaining long-haul routes including Toronto.
Booking El Al AAdvantage Awards
The well publicised “transit through a third reason rule” that AAdvantage has essentially ensures that El Al award travel is only practical if you are terminating/originating in Tel Aviv. If you wish to transit/stopover in Tel Aviv onwards to a connecting flight on El Al, two awards must be purchased instead. Note that AAdvantage awards are not available for El Al First Class.
One way AAdvantage award prices for travel on El Al out of Tel Aviv to/from:
- Los Angeles, Toronto and New York – 45,000 miles in Economy Class or 67,500 miles in Business Class
- Europe – 20,000 miles in Economy Class or 30,000 miles in Business Class
- Johannesburg – 30,000 miles in Economy class or 45,000 miles in Business Class
- Beijing, Hong Kong and Bangkok – 22,500 miles in Economy Class or 30,000 miles in Business Class
- Mumbai – 17,500 miles in Economy Class or 25,000 miles in Business Class
Award travel on El Al is combinable with other AAdvantage award partners. That means you can add on free positioning segments on American or US Airways to your North American gateway city, or other combinations with other partners on the one award ticket.
Searching El Al Award Space
The “conventional” way of searching for El Al award space is via ExpertFlyer, but as the saying goes – the best things in life are free. So again I recommend the FlightStats Seat Availability Tool for searching award seats on El Al.
The fare bucket for business class award seats is X and economy class award seats is E. El Al tends to release a maximum of two business class seats on North American routes, while up to nine on all other routes. Economy class award space is plenty, with nine seats across the board.
The best credit card to accrue AAdvantage miles in Canada is the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express which offers 1 point per general spend plus a 25% transfer bonus when you transfer 20,000 SPG points to American AAdvantage. Currently the card also offers 10,000 bonus points after $500 spend within the first three months, at an annual fee of $120.