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My wife and I had the incredible privilege of visiting Israel 2 years ago, and did a self-guided tour of several of the country’s top religious sites. For us, it was a joyous and informative experience (that we won’t soon forget!) and we thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to see so many biblical destinations with our very own eyes.
Fortunately, we were able to use points and miles to offset the majority of our travel costs—and you can do the same! Even though it’s a long flight (or 3!) from the US, you can get to Israel with miles and points earned from some of the best travel credit cards for award flights on airlines from all of the major airline alliances.
Tel Aviv is the primary airport in Israel, so you’ll want to plan to fly into Ben Gurion airport (TLV) regardless of where in Israel you might be adventuring. Jerusalem is just over an hour’s drive away, and renting a car in Israel is straightforward and safe (and Israeli roads are beautifully maintained!).
During our visit, we rented an economy car from Avis and quite enjoyed the freedom to explore Capernaum, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Eilat, and the Dead Sea on our own timeline.
I could write for hours about our adventures and highlights, but here I’ll show you 3 of the best ways to redeem miles and points for award flights to Israel.
How to Get to Israel With Miles and Points
1. Air France/KLM Flying Blue Miles on SkyTeam Airlines
If you want to use airline miles to fly to Israel, my favorite option is booking with Flying Blue. Flying Blue is the loyalty program of several airlines including Air France and KLM. And award flights to Israel using Flying Blue miles require the fewest miles of any rewards currency. That’s because Israel is considered part of the “Europe” region when booking with the Flying Blue award chart.
If you want to travel in coach one-way from the US to Israel, you’ll pay as little as 29,000 Flying Blue miles plus taxes and fees. The outbound flight (from the US to Tel Aviv) should cost between $80 and $100 in fees, whereas the return flight home will probably cost closer to $200. So although the cost in miles will be low, keep in mind that you’ll be spending significantly more out of pocket.
Each of the prices below represents the minimum number of points for those award flights. If none of the cheapest award flights exist, you’ll pay more. And Business Class award flights cost at least ~$250 in taxes and fees each way… ouch!
- 29,000 Flying Blue miles one-way in coach between the US and Israel
- 42,500 Flying Blue miles one-way in Premium Economy between the US and Israel
- 53,000 Flying Blue miles one-way in Business Class between the US and Israel
Award flights that you can book with Flying Blue will need to be on airlines that are part of the SkyTeam alliance, such as Air France, KLM, Delta, or Alitalia.
Perhaps the best thing about Flying Blue is that even if you don’t have any Flying Blue miles, you can transfer points from each of the major transferable currencies:
- Chase Ultimate Rewards from cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, Ink Business Preferred Credit Card, or Chase Sapphire Reserve
- AMEX Membership Rewards from cards like The Platinum Card® from American Express or The Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American Express
- Citi ThankYou from cards like the Citi Premier℠ Card
- Capital One from cards like the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card or Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business
- Marriott from cards like Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card or Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card
This means if you’ve got points spread across multiple accounts, you can transfer them all in to Flying Blue to get the number of miles you need.
Finally, I recommend you keep an eye on the Flying Blue Promo Awards which are announced each month. These are only practical for specific cities and more last-minute bookings, but you might find value if you look closely. For more information on Flying Blue Promo Awards, check out our post on a recent deal.
2. United Airlines Miles or Air Canada Aeroplan Miles on Star Alliance Airlines
While Flying Blue miles are certainly the cheapest award option, you’ll be limited on routes and award flight availability. And if you want to travel with the whole family, those taxes and fees can add up quickly! That’s why United Airlines miles can be a great value for award flights to Israel – lots of airline partners with tons of flights, and low taxes and fees.
United Airlines charges the following amounts for award flights between the US and Israel:
- 42,500 United Airlines miles one-way in coach
- 75,000 United Airlines miles one-way in Business Class on United
- 85,000 United Airlines miles one-way in Business Class on Star Alliance flights
If you happen to live in New York, Washington, DC, or San Francisco, you can even try to book one of United’s non-stop flights from the US to Tel Aviv. Surprisingly, I see multiple options for round-trip coach flights on United’s non-stop flights from Newark and Washington, DC, so that’s probably the best overall flight option.
The United.com website makes searching for award flights incredibly easy, so I start most of my adventure planning by starting my award searches from there.
Star Alliance airlines like Air Canada, Lufthansa, TAP Portugal, LOT Polish airlines, Turkish Airlines, and Ethiopian Airlines all offer service to Tel Aviv as well. This means you have a variety of options, and hopefully you can find flights that fit your travel schedule.
If you’re low on United Airlines miles, you can always earn more by applying for cards that earn their miles directly, like the United℠ Explorer Card. Or transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to United Airlines from cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, Ink Business Preferred Credit Card, or Chase Sapphire Reserve.
Pro Tip: If you want to save a couple thousand miles, you can also book the same award flights with Air Canada Aeroplan miles. These transfer instantly from American Express Membership Rewards and you can book the same Star Alliance airlines for 40,000 miles each way in coach or 67,500 miles each way in Business Class.
On some airlines (including Air Canada), you may be on the hook for substantial fuel surcharges. For more info on booking award flights with Aeroplan, read our guide to Air Canada Aeroplan miles.
3. American Airlines Miles on oneworld Airlines
If you fail to find award flights with Flying Blue or United Airlines, consider redeeming American Airlines miles for your Israeli adventure. American Airlines has fewer partners that fly to the Middle East region (which includes Israel), but awards are often readily available.
Unfortunately, as with most American Airlines partner award flights that cross the Atlantic Ocean, you’ll want to avoid flights on British Airways because of the outrageous fees.
That said, you can typically find flights from most US cities to Israel, and availability is reasonable. Then, try to narrow your search to transatlantic flights on American Airlines, Royal Jordanian, or Iberia.
For flights between the continental US and Israel, you’ll pay the following amount:
- 40,000 American Airlines miles one-way in coach
- 70,000 American Airlines miles one-way in Business Class
- 115,000 American Airlines miles one-way in First Class
American Airlines miles are particularly easy to earn with generous welcome bonuses from cards like the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard® and Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®.
Be sure to check out our complete guide to booking award flights with American Airlines miles.
If traveling to Israel is a religious, historical, or personal aspiration of yours, I wholeheartedly encourage you to put in the time and effort to make it happen. And although cost can often be an inhibitor to bucket-list trips, the right planning with miles and points from travel rewards credit cards can make a trip from the US to Israel affordable for almost anyone.
My favorite strategies for booking award flights to Israel include Flying Blue, United Airlines, and American Airlines miles, but other options exist, too. Regardless of how you redeem points and miles to make your trip happen, I hope they help make your trip a reality!
Have you ever been to Israel? How did you book your trip?