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El Al Adds San Francisco to Tel Aviv Route, With Its New 787

Jan. 03, 2018
3 min read
El Al Adds San Francisco to Tel Aviv Route, With Its New 787
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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will operate its new 787 Dreamliner, which features a revamped cabin and sleek new seats compared to El Al's now-outdated 747s, 767s and 777s.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.

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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.

Featured image by The new business class cabin on El al' Boeing 787 serving Tel Aviv from Newark (Image by Emily McNutt / The Points Guy)

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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
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5XEarn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
5XEarn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.

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  • Annual Fee

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  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

Sometimes it's worth a large investment to reap the benefits of a great credit card. That's exactly the case with the Amex Platinum card. In exchange for the annual fee, you'll unlock access to the Amex Membership Rewards program that let you access airline and hotel transfer partners, along with new lifestyle and travel credits. This card is also incredibly rewarding for travel purchases, helping you rack up a ton of Membership Rewards points for your next award trip.

Pros

  • The current welcome offer on this card is quite lucrative. TPG values it at $2,000.
  • This card comes with a long list of benefits, including access to Centurion Lounges, complimentary elite status with Hilton and Marriott, at least $500 in assorted annual statement credits and so much more. (Enrollment required for select benefits.)
  • The Amex Platinum comes with access to a premium concierge service that can help you with everything from booking hard-to-get reservations to finding destination guides to help you plan out your next getaway.

Cons

  • The high annual fee is only worth it if you’re taking full advantage of the card’s benefits. Seldom travelers may not get enough value to warrant the cost.
  • Outside of the current welcome bonus, you’re only earning higher rewards on specific airfare and hotel purchases, so it’s not a great card for other spending categories.
  • The annual airline fee statement credit can be complicated to take advantage of compared to the broader travel credits offered by competing premium cards.
  • Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Apply and select your preferred metal Card design: classic Platinum Card®, Platinum x Kehinde Wiley, or Platinum x Julie Mehretu.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings, which requires a minimum two-night stay, through American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®. And if you fly, you can receive up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year after you select a qualifying airline and incidental fees are charged by the airline to your Platinum Card®.
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 back each month on eligible purchases made with your Platinum Card® on one or more of the following: Audible, Disney+, The Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, Peacock, SiriusXM, and The New York Times. Enrollment required.
  • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Cover the cost of a $12.95 monthly Walmart+ membership with a statement credit after you pay for Walmart+ each month with your Platinum Card. Cost includes $12.95 plus applicable local sales tax. Plus Ups are excluded.
  • American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. There are even more places your Platinum Card® can get you complimentary entry and exclusive perks.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one select qualifying airline.
  • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member only.
  • $300 Equinox Credit: Get up to $25 back each month on the Equinox+ digital fitness app, or eligible Equinox club memberships when you pay with your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
  • $189 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $189 back per year on your CLEAR® membership. CLEAR® is available at select airports and stadiums.
  • $695 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees