A new partnership is in the air. Alaska Airlines is set to join forces with El Al, the flag carrier of Israel, starting July 1.
Alaska Airlines passengers are expected to be able to earn and redeem Mileage Plan miles as well as qualify for elite status and earn bonus miles based on ticket class flown on El Al-operated flights. Matmid Frequent Flyer Club members will be able to redeem points toward Alaska Airlines reward flights as well.
Although redeeming Alaska miles for El Al flights will be possible in the future, we don’t know when it would become an option. (Remember Alaska’s partnership with Finnair? It took more than a year since the partnership was announced to find out the cost of redemptions on Finnair-operated flights.) Additionally, Mileage Plan sets different redemption rates for each airline partner, and the rates on El Al-operated flights haven’t been made public yet.
“Alaska Airlines was instrumental in helping bring Jews to Israel in the early years of the state, helping to build our country and now as we celebrate 70 years of those historic flights, continue to be a key player along with EL AL in building the bridges between America and Israel,” El Al CEO Gonen Usishkin said in a press release.
El Al’s fleet serves 36 destinations from its Tel Aviv hub, including the following U.S. cities: Boston, Los Angeles, Miami, Newark and New York City. The airline also will begin operations to Las Vegas on June 14 and will resume service to Chicago starting March 22.
Although El Al has codeshare agreements with a number of airlines, it’s not a part of a global alliance, which means there aren’t many options to book award flights on the Israeli carrier. Credit card members who collect American Express Membership Rewards points can transfer those to El Al Matmid Frequent Flyer Club. Additionally, frequent flyers who collect Qantas miles can book El Al award flights.
Having a new redemption option is nice, but it’s hard to say whether it would be a useful one before the redemption rates and surcharges are announced. Still, don’t forget that with Mileage Plan’s generous stopover rules, it will be possible to visit Tel Aviv on the way to another destination served by El Al. At the very least it’s worth waiting for all the redemption details.