American Drops their El Al Partnership November 1

El Al is losing its only US frequent flyer partner. The American Airlines website announced this change:

If you’re flying El Al after October 31, you won’t be able to earn American miles for it. And you won’t be able to use American miles for El Al tickets after that date either — all tickets must be issued by then.

El Al announced the end of the relationship as well.

I have to imagine this was initiated by American.

  • American was El Al’s only US partner, and gave them feed — bringing passengers to and from their US – Israel flights.
  • American wasn’t getting much traffic from El Al, since they offer only 14 flights each week to the US and only some of the passengers on each connect onward.
  • American does now fly to Israel (US Airways has Philadelphia – Tel Aviv service).

El Al’s remaining frequent flyer partnerships are with Qantas, South African, and Aeromexico.

They still have codeshare, interline baggage, and ticketing agreements with other carriers.

El Al itself, whose frequent flyer program has never much inpressed me, is an American Express Membership Rewards transfer partner. So is Aeromexico, though dealing with their call centers is frustrating. It does remain possible, even with the loss of the American relationship, for US-based frequent flyers to redeem points for travel on El Al. It just became harder and more expensive to do so however.

Not that the US-Israel flights were ever easy to get on points, although Europe – Tel Aviv generally was (so US-Europe and then connecting wasn’t tough).

The US Airways Philadelphia – Tel Aviv flight isn’t an easy ‘get’ either. Connecting through Europe with American miles remains quite possible, since there’s service:

  • British Airways, London – Tel Aviv
  • Iberia, Madrid – Tel Aviv
  • Air Berlin, Berlin and Dusseldorf – Tel Aviv

There’s also Royal Jordanian service Amman – Tel Aviv.

(HT: Loyalty Lobby)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. […] The airline’s history with Israel is something of a rocky one. American Airlines pulled out of Israel after merging with US Airways. US Airways had flown Philadelphia – Tel Aviv. It was a money-losing route that wasn’t pulled earlier due to the distractions of the merger. However I had expected American to continue and grow there when they dropped El Al as a frequent flyer program partner. […]


  1. There are additional connections possible:
    Ab also flies MUC – TLV few times a week.
    Niki also flies VIE – TLV few times a week.

  2. This will provide a good test as to the effect of partnerships. Alas we will never see the actual data.

    Most US based frequent flyers want EQMs and RDMs in a program affiliated with one of the big 3 alliances. Personally I would be much less likely to fly LY as I would be loathe to give up 15k EQM for LAX-TLV-LAX (more in business class). That’s most of the way to gold status on AA.

  3. Ive got to say El Al is IMHO a complete rip when it comes to rewards. They view american jews as friers and as a captive audience. We made aliya in 2002 and since 2003 I have spent close to $100,000 on tickets for my wife and the kids to visit her parents. I have received NO benefits whatsoever – no upgrades, no free tickets, NOTHING. I know of no other airline where spending $100,000 over 13 years would provide not even a few free tickets as a reward for loyalty. But its direct to JFK and my in laws live in Queens so we are the captive audience and El Al can get away with treating us like suckers.

  4. it’s worth noting that using aadvantage miles to fly to israel is a bad proposition. on british airways, the taxes alone mean that you will pay almost as much as a regular ticket. air berlin is a budget, low-cost airline — terrible service, very uncomfortable flights. and while iberia is a standard air carrier, the quality of iberia’s planes (to/from israel) and its service are on par with budget airlines. on a recent flight, i was squished into my seat with my knees hitting the back of the seat in front of me for six hours — and i am an average-sized person. royal jordanian is the best option, but they only offer perhaps one seat (as i was told by AAdvantage) for AAdvantage reward travel. if you fly business, there is slightly more availability, but it appears to only be for the return to israel, not for travel originating in israel.
    all in all, american airlines has screwed many of its loyal members by cancelling their flights from PHL to TLV.

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