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Fly EL AL? You can soon redeem with American Express points via Etihad Guest

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Whilst many HfP readers fly EL AL, it is frustratingly difficult to book with frequent flyer miles.  This is due to the lack of airline partners and the failure of its own programme, Matmid, to forge relationships elsewhere.

EL AL is not big on partnerships, to put it mildly.  According to wheretocredit.com, it only works with:

  • Aerolineas Argentinas
  • Qantas
  • Alaska Airlines
Use Etihad Guest miles on EL AL

EL AL got easier to book in 2020

In mid 2020, Qantas Frequent Flyer became a partner with the American Express Membership Rewards programme in the UK.

This was such a non-event that American Express didn’t even bother to tell cardholders that Qantas had joined.  In general, there are few reasons why you would want to transfer Membership Rewards points to Qantas given that get the same oneworld availability via British Airways Executive Club.

One key benefit, however, is that Qantas Frequent Flyer is an EL AL partner.  When Qantas joined Membership Rewards, it was suddenly possible to use the scheme to earn miles for EL AL flights via UK credit card spend.

If you want to understand learn more about redeeming on EL AL via a Membership Rewards transfer to Qantas Frequent Flyer, read this HfP article.  Taxes can be very low if you start your trip outside the UK.

Using Etihad Guest miles to book EL AL flights

There will soon be a new option – Etihad Guest

Etihad and EL AL unveiled their new partnership a few days ago.

It has two aspects:

  • the airlines will codeshare with each other – for example, when you search for flights to India on the Etihad website, you may see London – Tel Aviv – India on EL AL as well as London – Abu Dhabi – India on Etihad, and vice versa
  • there will be reciprocal benefits for Etihad Guest and Matmid members

The codeshare will launch on the Abu Dhabi to Tel Aviv route on 18th July and roll out internationally in stages from 1st August as regulatory approvals are received.

The frequent flyer option is more relevant for HfP readers.

It has been agreed that there will reciprocity between Etihad Guest and Matmid.  This will allow Etihad Guest members to redeem on EL AL and vice versa.  Status benefits will also be respected.

There is no date yet for the launch of the frequent flyer partnership.  EL AL does not yet appear on the Etihad Guest list of airline partners.

There is no indication of how many miles will be needed for a redemption on EL AL or what the taxes and charges may be.

We will run a follow-up article when EL AL redemptions become bookable via Etihad Guest.


How to earn Etihad Guest miles from UK credit cards

How to earn Etihad Guest miles from UK credit cards (October 2021)

Etihad Guest does not have a UK credit card.  However, you can earn Etihad Guest miles by converting Membership Rewards points earned from selected UK American Express cardsThese are:

  • American Express Preferred Rewards Gold (review here, apply here) – sign-up bonus of 30,000 Membership Rewards points converts into 30,000 Etihad Guest miles. This card is FREE for your first year and also comes with two free airport lounge passes. 30,000 points is a special offer which expires on 9th November 2021.

Membership Rewards points convert at 1:1 into Etihad Guest miles which is an attractive rate.  The cards above all earn 1 Membership Rewards point per £1 spent on your card, which converts to 1 Etihad Guest mile. The Gold card earns double points (2 per £1) on all flights you charge to it.

Etihad Guest is also a partner with the HSBC Premier Mastercard (0.5 miles per £1 spent) and HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard (1 mile per £1 spent).

Comments (13)

  • Gringo says:

    Can the follow-up article consider the points difference of redeeming via Qantas and Etihad please?

  • F says:

    I’d rather walk

  • Russ says:

    Good to see Etihad getting more power to its elbow and El AL has a good business class product. Looking forward to the update.

    • Dominic Barrington says:

      I’m fascinated by the definition of ‘good’ – I think it is very significantly inferior to either BA or Virgin, who are the other competitors on the route.

  • ian says:

    V nice to see an article on Israel with no anti-semitic comments in sight

  • LS says:

    I have had several friends who have struggled with significant security searches when flying to TLV. Has put me off visiting, which is a shame especially with good corona vaccine status at the moment

    • Paul Pogba says:

      The efficiency of their vaccine roll out has stoked my interest in visiting the Holy land but sadly it looks like they’re experiencing another wave despite the high uptake.

      https://www.jewishpress.com/headline/israeli-covid-19-daily-new-cases-top-700-new-restrictions/2021/07/13/

    • J says:

      Leaving Israel I was subject to pretty intense questioning about my visits to the UAE and a very rigorous search of my belongings. A friend with Lebanese stamps in his passport was questioned for hours! Otherwise, it’s a nice place to visit – but I’m sure apartheid South Africa was also pleasant to visit for white Europeans.

      • Save East Coast Rewards says:

        My only visit (so far) was in 2013. Security involved a plot of questioning but was polite and professional throughout. It felt like they were trained to spot threats rather than just try and spot some toothpaste someone forgot to take out their bag! They took interest in particular to my Jordan and Egypt passport stamps but ultimately you would be fine unless your passport has stamps for countries that are hostile to Israel (such as Lebanon or Iran). Back then at least Israel didn’t stamp passports so going there shouldn’t blacklist you if you go to one of these countries later.

        Just like when I visit any other countries I try and avoid discussing politics

  • Moishe Zeech Mech says:

    Very interesting and potentially very exciting. Let’s see where this goes

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