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Ever heard of El Al? Even if you're not familiar with the Israeli flag carrier, you've probably seen a press release or two about its partnerships with Etihad and Alaska Airlines. Now it's time to add another to the list, as Delta and El Al just announced an agreement to launch a new partnership. Let's take a look at what this means and how it'll affect your flights going forward.
Delta-El Al Partnership Details: What We Know So Far
In the news announcements this morning, details were pretty scarce. We don't yet know when the partnership will go live, but we do know that the benefits are shaping up to be good.
The two airlines are launching codeshare flights. That means Delta will be able to sell El Al tickets on its site and vice versa. In addition, elite status members will be able to enjoy reciprocal frequent flyer benefits across both airlines.
This is reminiscent of the current partnership between American Airlines and JetBlue. Under this partnership, travelers with elite status on either airline are able to enjoy perks when flying on both American and JetBlue.
Even better, itineraries involving both airlines will be smoother. For example, you'll be able to check a bag all the way to your final destination. This can be a huge time saver on connecting flights, especially since it means you won't need to go back through security.
What We Don't Know Yet About the Delta and El Al Partnership
Earning and redeeming miles
Delta's press release notes that you'll be able to earn and redeem miles with both programs when flying, though specific numbers haven't been released. This will be something on which to keep an eye, especially since Delta's SkyMiles program offers a notoriously low redemption value compared to other frequent flyer programs.
Details of elite benefits
In its announcement, Delta promises that the two airlines will implement “a mutual codeshare and offer reciprocal frequent flyer benefits.” However, the announcement doesn't detail what reciprocal elite benefits might be offered.
For instance, will El Al Matmid elites get to access Delta SkyClub lounges? If so, on what types of itineraries? Delta recently slashed access to SkyClub lounges for its own elites. Will Delta turn around and offer access to elite status members of another program?
Implications for El Al's partnership with Alaska
Alaska and El Al announced a partnership way back in 2019. But it wasn't until December 2022 that Alaska added redemptions on El Al. Now that partnership may be in jeopardy. If recent history is any guide, Delta's new partners tend to break up with their other U.S. airline partners after the new partnership is fully launched — like what happened when LATAM partnered with Delta. We will have to see what this new partnership between Delta and El Al means for Alaska's partnership with El Al.
Delta and El Al's Other Partnerships
Delta is part of the SkyTeam alliance — which includes airlines such as Air France and Aeromexico. While El Al isn't a member of any major airline alliance, it does maintain partnerships with Etihad, Qantas, Alaska Airlines, and Aeromexico. These partnerships are more limited than the one Delta and El Al are developing since elite status perks aren't reciprocal.
However, when the details of the partnership are clarified, anyone flying with either El Al or Delta will want to take a hard look at earning rates before choosing to commit to either airlines' program. Delta tends to credit mileage and elite credit earned based on a percentage of mileage flown for partners. This means this could be a great way to go for cheap Delta elite status.
On the other hand, competitors such as Alaska Airlines also still credit miles based on distance flown, and its earning chart for El Al is pretty generous. Those flying in I or C fare classes, for example, will earn 300% bonus miles and 200% elite-qualifying miles. That's pretty difficult to pass up.
Finally, if you're looking to earn points with El Al's Matmid program, adding in Delta makes it much easier for those who are U.S.-based to do so. Although those who are interested in this option are likely limited when compared to those wanting Delta or Alaska elite status, it's still an option.
It's always good news when airlines announce new partnerships. This newest partnership between Delta and El Al promises to be one of the strongest around — short of an alliance membership. Travelers will not only be able to check bags through to their final destination when connecting between these two airlines but will also be able to enjoy reciprocal elite status benefits and the ability to earn and redeem miles with both airlines. Although we don't have exact details yet, this partnership is one we're certainly looking forward to exploring.
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