El Al honoring the mistake fare; not much of a surprise


An El Al contractor earlier this week made a mistake, opening up the ability to book flights from the USA to Israel for prices roughly 60-80% lower than the average regular fares. Once the hole was plugged there was some apprehension regarding the mistake and whether the carrier would try to get out of it. Given the recent rules changes by the US Department of Transportation it seemed unlikely that they would actually get away with cancelling the tickets but the concern was still there, in part because the carrier publicly stated that they were trying to figure out what to do.

On August 9th they released a statement indicating that they would be honoring the tickets.

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The carrier has also indicated that they will allow passengers to switch from the booked connecting itineraries on partners to non-stop flights on El Al metal. This change will cost $75 per ticket and a decision on that must be made this month by calling in.

The opportunity to switch to the El Al flight is a smart move from the airline, allowing them to control their costs a bit, assuming anyone switches. Flying some of the 5000-ish folks who got these tickets on their own metal will reduce the costs for carrying them versus paying out to the partner airlines. And nonstop flights are usually more convenient for the passengers. That said, depending on which version of the debate in the Orthodox Jewish community you listen to, taking part in this deal is only kosher if you aren’t flying on El Al so maybe that won’t work out. There’s also a question of how that works when flying on partners even when the El Al is actually getting more screwed than not when the partner flights are involved.

Also, for folks looking at earning points with the flights which are useful, I’d say that flying on El Al is likely to not be the best approach. Unless for some reason you’re often flying on El Al anyways.

As for the deal being honored, no real surprise there. Good for consumers that they are being honored and given the option to change or cancel should they want to.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

12 Comments

  1. hiya. I understood from AA that the El Al flights I booked were class G and entitled to 50 percent miles. Do you know what the class will be of the nonstops, and whether we’ll get points on AA, and if so, at what rate? thanks.

  2. “That said, depending on which version of the debate in the Orthodox Jewish community you listen to, taking part in this deal is only kosher if you aren’t flying on El Al so maybe that won’t work out”. Wow. I mean WOW. Really? It is ok to do this as long as you don’t screw the mother state? Very sad

  3. i called in this morning to change to direct flight one way.They said I need to email instead

  4. Im considering changing to a direct flight from Newark. Sure the $75 fee is there, but I can arrive at 645 am instead of 240pm, and not have to go all the way to JFK. As of now I think I’m earning 50% miles on my connecting itinerary, so as long as el al doesn’t book it as an award fare or anything lower than 50%, I should be fine.

  5. I am sorry I don’t understand. How does charging more for their own metal, gives you an incentive to fly them? Wouldn’t it worked the other way? Something like you can switch to the non-stop at no additional cost.

    1. No, Matt, I’m not going. The time frame that the seats were available was pretty tight and we were already booked up most of that time. Thanksgiving was an option but only going for 2-3 days seemed not worth it.

      As for paying to fly on El Al metal, given that many of the connections involve overnights in London or Zurich I’d say that $75 is likely much cheaper than a hotel in one of those cities and a nonstop is generally much more convenient. If some people take them up on that more power to them.

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