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Israeli airline El Al has announced that it will start nonstop flights between Tel Aviv (TLV) and San Francisco (SFO) in late 2018. The carrier will operate its new 787 Dreamliner, which features a revamped cabin and sleek new seats compared to El Al’s now-outdated 747s, 767s and 777s.
Although an official start date has not been announced, flights will commence in the fourth quarter of 2018 and El Al will operate 3 weekly flights between the two cities.
This will be El Al’s sixth route connecting Israel and North America. It started flights to Miami in November and also flies to Boston, Los Angeles, New York (both JFK and EWR) and Toronto. Northern California’s Silicon Valley and Israel are both known for their thriving tech industries, so the route is an obvious choice for El Al. United is the only other airline operating nonstop flights from the Bay Area to Israel, also with a Boeing 787-9, which began connecting San Francisco and Tel Aviv in 2016.
“The acquisition of the Dreamliner enables us to expand our long-haul network. San Francisco is an important strategic city for El Al. Our target is to take the business segment,” said David Maimon, El Al’s CEO, according to Reuters.
El Al will use one of the 16 Dreamliners it has ordered and began taking delivery of in 2017. The 787 is replacing an aging fleet of twin-aisle airplanes that offer first and business class products way behind the best international carriers. El Al’s Dreamliner does not have first class, but does feature 32 lie-flat business class seats in a 1-2-1 layout and a premium economy cabin. TPG‘s Emily McNutt had a solid experience in business class on the new bird this fall.
You can use points to book award seats on the new flight, using El Al’s Matmid frequent-flyer program. El Al is not part of an international alliance, but you can transfer Amex Membership Rewards to Matmid at a 1000:20 ratio. Assuming the redemption rate is the same as the Los Angeles to Tel Aviv route, it would take 90,0000 (winter travel) or 100,000 (summer travel) Membership Rewards points to fly round-trip in economy on the route. Business class would go for 275,000 (winter travel) or 350,000 (summer travel) Membership Rewards round-trip. The Amex Platinum card currently has a 60,000 point sign up bonus (or up to 100,000 if you’re lucky), which could get you close to a round-trip economy flight on the new route. You can also book El Al awards through Qantas Flying Club (which is a Citi ThankYou transfer partner) after the two airlines expanded their partnership in August.
Images by Emily McNutt / The Points Guy.
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