Delta has formed a strategic partnership with EL AL, the national airline of Israel, which will significantly improve travel connections between Israel and the United States. This exciting development is expected to offer numerous benefits to travelers in the near future.
Delta’s new strategic partnership, slated to run for at least five years, will include reciprocal code sharing, mutual frequent flyer benefits, and the ability to earn and use miles across the carriers.
But the first benefit passengers will see is the ability to check in once for a connecting Delta and EL AL journey, with their boarding passes issued together and their bags checked through to their final destination.
Delta currently flies from Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport (TLV) to Atlanta (ATL), Boston (BOS), and New York (JFK), offering up to 200 same-day connections from those airports.
El AL offers additional non-stop service from its Tel Aviv hub to Boston and JFK, alongside Los Angeles (LAX), Miami (MIA), and Newark (EWR) services. The carriers will add each other’s codes to these flights and some onward departures “in due course,” Delta said.
Travelers will also eventually be able to mutually earn and redeem frequent flyer miles on Delta’s SkyMiles and EL AL’s Matmid loyalty programs. However, the airlines must still reveal the accrual and redemption rates or when this might start.
Delta Medallions and EL AL Matmid elites will also presumably access benefits on each other’s airlines, including free checked bags, priority security, and preferred seats. “Working closely with EL AL will further strengthen Delta’s connection to Israel by offering more customers unrivaled access to destinations across the U.S.,” said Matteo Curcio, Delta’s Senior Vice President for Europe, Middle East, Africa, and India.
“We are delighted to offer our customers new ways to discover exciting destinations on both sides of the Atlantic through our partnership with Delta,” added Shlomi Zafrany, EL AL’s Vice President of Commercial and Industry Affairs.
EL AL was previously partnered with American Airlines between 2008 and 2014 before the union was scrapped, presumably because American Airlines, as the senior partner, wasn’t seeing much benefit from EL AL’s then-14 weekly arrivals in the U.S.
However, since then, EL AL has ramped up its schedule and now flies more than 30 times weekly to the U.S., with a new flight to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) to debut in September.
As part of the new cooperation agreement, Delta will make “reasonable efforts to assist” El AL in joining the Sky Team Alliance, of which it is a founding member.
The airlines will also likely need the approval of both the U.S. and Israeli governments for the partnership and code sharing to go ahead.