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American, El Al to Sever Mileage Ties

It’s a fact of loyalty-program life: The schemes’ networks of earning and redemption partners are in constant flux. Today, airline A and hotel B are best marketing buddies, participating in each other’s programs and bundling their services into attractively priced packages; tomorrow, all bets are off.

Staying abreast of the latest partner comings and goings — who’s with whom — has become a crucial part of getting the most value from travel rewards programs.

The latest loyalty-program change to be announced affects the relationship between the world’s largest airline and one of the smallest. Effective November 1, American and El Al will no longer be mileage-program partners. That means that AAdvantage members will no longer be able to earn miles or book award travel on El Al flights after October 31.

Reciprocally, members of El Al’s Matmid program will no longer be able to earn or redeem miles for flights on American.

The split is a negative for both programs. For U.S.-based fliers, the change will be especially painful since the tie-up with American is El Al’s only link to a U.S. airline program.

American (as US Airways) serves Tel Aviv from Philadelphia, so it will still be possible to use AAdvantage miles to fly to Israel. But if you want to redeem miles for flights on El Al, you’ll have to book within the next five weeks.

Reader Reality Check

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