New partnership between American Express and Qantas means you can fly to Israel in lie-flat seats for cheap on El Al.
*UPDATE* AMEX and Qantas dramatically sweetened this deal by adding a 44% transfer bonus. See bottom for details
The long journey from US cities to Israel would be so much better if you could fly in a lie-flat seat.
This is always an option if you have a lot of cash to burn. A round-trip Business class ticket on El Al from East Coast cities to Tel Aviv is running about $4,000. From the West Coast it’s about $5,000.
You’ve been able to use Amex Membership Rewards to fly Business Class on El Al for some time, but it’s been crazy expensive, as much as 250,000 points each way and several hundred dollars in fees on top of that.
Things just got much cheaper
Now you can fly from the US to Tel Aviv for as few as 78,000 Membership Rewards and $30 in fees. Yeah, 30 bucks. This is sounding better already, isn’t it?
New Amex Rewards prices for 5 major US cities to Tel Aviv (per person/one-way)
|Boston||78,000 or 92,000|
What does Australia have to do with this?
Why the new prices? AMEX has started a new partnership with Qantas.
Qantas is already an established partner with El Al.
So, no, you don’t have to fly through Australia.
But you do need to take a few steps to make this new relationship work for you.
Here’s what you need to do
- Create a Qantas account. This is free.
- Make sure your first and last name, address and email all match what you have listed in your AMEX Membership Rewards account.
- Use your American Express online account and navigate to Membership Rewards –> Points Summary –> Link Loyalty accounts to link your Membership Rewards to your newly created Qantas account.
- **PRO TIP: Immediately transfer 500 Membership Rewards into your Qantas account. This will confirm the two accounts are linked. It also will make you an eligible target for future 15-30% bonus transfer promotions.
Checking flight availability
When can you go? When are Business Class flights available on El Al.
This, admittedly, is the more challenging step.
You have a few options.
You can check availability on the Qantas website. The good news–this is free and it will give you a look at award availability 30 days at a time. The bad news–Qantas aggregates all its partners together. There is no way to filter out connections. So, if you’re looking for non-stop flights you’re going to have to click on each individual day.
There’s also the option of opening an ExpertFlyer.com Pro account. I don’t really recommend this, as it costs $100/year and once you’re in, it’s pretty hard for a newbie to understand all the data. They do offer a 7-day free trial, so if you’re ambitious, you might want to take a look.
And, of course, there is always the option of letting me book these tickets for you. I’ve already spent several hours doing all the legwork to determine how many seats are available on all flights from each city. We could get this done pretty quickly.
Few other details
I’m seeing the highest availability from mid-July through September, including on and around US Labor Day holiday.
All the flights from LAX and SFO to Tel Aviv are on brand new 787 Dreamliner featuring the fully-reclining lie-flat seat. About half the flights out of JFK and Newark are on older 747/777 planes which means you will get an angled lie-flat seat instead.
Just like most frequent flyer deals, this isn’t perfect, but it is such a big improvement over what you’ve been able to get, that I had to share it with you.
Please reach out if you have any questions.
You can find me at [email protected].
Have you flown El Al Business Class? How much better is it to arrive in Israel already rested from the long journey? Please leave your insights in the Comments section below.
**AMEX and Qantas added two bonuses totaling 44%
**AND El Al has released more U.S West and East coast Spring 2020 award inventory for travel using Qantas Points.
Here’s how it works:
Bonus 1: Get 20% additional Qantas Points when transferring AMEX Membership Rewards to Qantas.
Bonus 2: Wait 1-4 days, then Qantas adds an additional 20% Points bonus for transferring AMEX Membership Rewards to Qantas.
These bonuses combine for 44% more Qantas points at no additional cost to you. See the table below for how many AMEX Membership Rewards required each way for business class travel on El Al:
El Al has swapped out their 747 relics with brand new 787-900s on all routes now (except Boston). Also, they’ve added the new 787-900 Sin City route (Las Vegas), however, with sparsely-available award inventory.
Award inventory for 2 or more passengers available on most days out of Newark/JFK/Miami and on many days out of LAX/SFO.. Inventory coming home is a bit more restricted, so book now if interested.
Again, if you’d like help getting through this process and finding and booking award space, please reach out to me.
So, who’s going to Israel on this remarkable deal?