What airlines come to mind when you think about flying to the Middle East? If I were to guess, I’d say you think of Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways. From the U.S., those are the options many try to book to avoid a connection in Europe. Yes, I know Royal Jordanian flies from the U.S. to Amman, but it doesn’t get the same press attention.
However, we’re going to talk about another option that is so often forgotten and that’s flying El Al to Israel. Specifically, we want to touch on how you can fly business class on El Al’s Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. Perhaps, surprisingly to some, the key to booking this award is Qantas points.
So, let’s dive into this fun airline partnership and see how you can take advantage of it.
How To Earn Qantas Frequent Flyer Points
The key to unlocking this opportunity is, of course, earning Qantas points. Fortunately, it’s actually pretty easy to earn Qantas points thanks to partnerships with Amex Membership Rewards, Capital One and Citi ThankYou Points. You can transfer Amex and Citi points to Qantas at a 1:1 ratio while Capital One miles can be transferred at a 2:1.5 ratio.
This means there are tons of cards that you can use to earn the necessary Qantas points. Here are a few that we like:
- Capital One Venture Card (Learn More)
- Capital One Spark Miles For Business (Learn More)
- American Express Gold Card (Learn More)
- American Express Business Gold Card (Learn More)
- The Platinum Card From American Express (Learn More)
- Citi Premier (Learn More)
- Citi Prestige (Learn More)
If you regularly stay at Marriott properties or use one of its co-branded credit cards (Learn More) issued by American Express or Chase and transfer your Bonvoy points to Qantas at a 3:1 ratio. Transfers of 60,000 points will earn you a bonus of 5,000 Qantas points.
El Al Business Class East Coast To Israel
If you want to fly El Al’s flagship business class product on the Dreamliner from the east coast, look to Newark (EWR), New York (JFK) or Toronto (YYZ). Between any of these cities and Tel Aviv (TLV), you’ll only need 78,000 Qantas points to book a one-way business class ticket.
You can transfer from any of Qantas’ three transfer partners to get the points you need. Just remember that Capital One transfers at a 2:1.5 ratio rather than 1:1. If you only have Capital One miles, you’ll need 104,000 miles.
While you could transfer Amex Membership Rewards points to El Al Matmid to book with its own program, you’d need over 34,000 points more than Qantas requires. On top of that, El Al Matmid will hit you with surcharges while Qantas will not. Personally, I’d take saving points and cash.
If you’re unfamiliar with El Al business class on the Dreamliner, the cabin is very similar to that of United’s Polaris business class. Every seat is lie-flat and has direct aisle access because of a 1-2-1 layout. This is much nicer than what you’ll find on its 747s so you’ll want to stick to routes with Dreamliners.
You can also book El Al business class on a Dreamliner between Hong Kong (HKG) and Tel Aviv for 78,000 Qantas points.
How To Book With Qantas Points
Fortunately, booking El Al business class with Qantas Frequent Flyer points is actually quite easy. Simply create an account, log in, select to use points for a classic reward then run your search. You’ll be provided a calendar of options where you can select to show business class space. Once you’ve found a date, select it and look for an El Al flight. Since it’s the only non-stop, it should be at the top of the results if available.
Alternatively, you could use Expert Flyer to run a search for El Al award space.
Whichever way you choose, you’ll need to transfer points. Keep in mind that Capital One and Citi transfers can take up to 48 hours. Amex transfers are generally instant. Once you have the points in your Qantas account, you can run the search again and complete your booking.
Transfer Bonuses Can Save You Points
Before you choose which points to transfer to Qantas, make sure you check for a transfer bonus. I actually booked El Al business class to New York during a 20% American Express transfer bonus. Rather than transfer 78,000 Citi ThankYou Points as I had planned, I transferred 65,000 Amex Membership Rewards points. I don’t care who you are, that’s a great way to book a flight to/from the Middle East.
While Capital One hasn’t run a transfer promo to Qantas Frequent Flyer yet, I wouldn’t be surprised if they do at some point. They’ve been quite active with transfer bonuses since launching a transferable points program in December 2018.
Admittedly, I love partnerships between airlines outside of the major alliances of Oneworld, SkyTeam and Star Alliance. We often find some hidden gems in these partnerships and the Qantas/El Al partnership is no exception. As we mentioned in our Alitalia sweet spot article, don’t skip over programs that don’t have widespread usefulness. You just might find a fun way to book.
Quick note: In June 2019, Qantas announced that it would be devaluing its award chart. The new award rates will kick in on September 18, 2019, so you’ll want to book this while you can to get the best rate possible.