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Ratings & Reviews

(Program Reviews - Side by Side Comparison - Website Reviews)

El Al Israeli Airlines Matmid Frequent Flyer Club

(113 ratings)


This program was reviewed and rated by our editors in April 2009. Changes in the program past this date are possible, especially program partner information. We recommend you subscribe to the #1 source of frequent flyer information, Inside Flyer Magazine, to get the most current information possible.

Linking Tel Aviv With the World

El Al Airlines was established in 1948, at the same time as the modern nation of Israel, for which it remains the national carrier. Since that time, it has grown into a global airline and flies to 45 destinations from its Ben Gurion International Airport hub in Tel Aviv. Its loyalty program, Matmid Club, was launched in 1985.



El Al offers points according to flight destination and fare class and the system is rather complicated. El Al destinations from Tel Aviv are divided into six accumulation and utilization zones. The more distant the destination, the more points you can accumulate. Flights within Zone A (the Middle East, Greece and Egypt) earn between 15 and 135 points, depending on class. Zone B, including Eastern Europe, earns between 20 and 200 points. Moving outward, Zone C, which encompasses Western Europe and Russia, earns between 25 and 250 points. South Africa and India, representing Zone D, earns 40-350 points. Zone E, encompassing the U.S. (except Los Angeles), Canada, and Asia, earns 50-500 points, and finally, Zone F, Los Angeles and Sao Paulo, earns 65-550 points. And if you travel with a pet, Israel residents can earn 20 points per roundtrip flight to any destination where pets are allowed to fly. In the U.S., pets flying three trips in three years will receive a fourth trip free.

There's an enormous difference in earning ability based on fare-class flown. Flights in first or "F" class (which are only available in Zones C through F), can earn 10 times as many points as the lower coach classes. While unusual for U.S.-based carriers, the large earning gap between the lowest and highest fare classes is common in international airlines. In fact, Matmid deserves some credit for actually awarding points (however few) to its members in the cheap seats. Many international airlines simply do not.

Matmid Club members can also earn points when flying on partner airlines, purchasing items from retail partners, through hotel stays, car rentals and transferring points from other credit card loyalty schemes into Matmid Club points.



Matmid Club awards are restricted to free flights and upgrades and do not include awards for partner activities like car rentals or hotel stays. Roundtrip coach flights begin at 500 points for flights within the Middle East. Essentially, this means a member flying in the cheapest seats possible will need about 17 short-haul roundtrip flights (34 segments at 15 points each) to earn a free short-haul ticket. Comparatively, that's not too shabby, when you consider that the typical U.S. program asks for 25,000 miles for a free domestic ticket, and awards 500 miles (less if you're not an elite member) for short hops. It would take 25 flights at that earning rate to earn a free roundtrip award flight.

But if you look at the larger geographical picture and take as an example a passenger in the U.S. who travels to Israel regularly to visit family, the number of flights required for an award flight can be much higher. A New York-Tel Aviv trip in a mid-level fare class like Y earns 300 points per roundtrip. A coach class free trip along that route requires 1,400 points. A passenger would need to take about five trips within three years to earn a free trip. Fly in the cheapest seats earning only 50 points per roundtrip and it will take 28 flights to earn that free trip, a daunting task considering points expire within three years.

Partner American Airlines, which uses miles as currency, would offer roughly 11,300 miles for a roundtrip flight of a similar distance in coach, and begins its U.S.-Middle East awards at 90,000 miles. An AAdvantage member would need only about eight trips for the free ticket that would require a Matmid Club member to fly either five or 28 flights. The value of El Al's program varies greatly depending on the class of service you choose to fly.

Matmid Club also offers one-way awards for 50 percent of the full roundtrip level.

You can pay for upgrades on El Al flights in points or in a combination of money and points, providing the ticket you hold is eligible for an upgrade. You can supplement up to half of the number of points needed for an upgrade voucher with money. Generally, upgrades run from 100 to 750 points, depending on zone. Elite-level members are eligible for "last-minute" upgrades at discounted rates. Discounted upgrades start at 25 points for a one-way upgrade from coach to business class within Zone 1.

El Al also makes note of the "money supplement" required to cover the cost of airport taxes in its award charts. The charge ranges from $105 to $296, depending on the destination. Points cannot be redeemed to cover the cost of taxes and fees, but members can pay part of the fuel surcharge of an award ticket with points. This option was introduced on Dec. 1, 2008 and the cost is the same regardless of the class of service you are flying. For flights within Zones A and B, members can redeem 200 points for $50 of the fuel surcharge on roundtrip flights and 50 points for $25 on one-way flights. For flights in Zones C through F, members can redeem 200 points for a $100 discount on roundtrip flights and 100 points for a $50 discount.



El Al's airline partnerships include Aeromexico, American Airlines, Qantas, South African Airways and Sun D'Or. While hardly the largest partner list in the industry, those five members do provide global reach. On most partner airlines, point accumulation on flights is identical to the point accumulation awarded on El Al flights to the same destination and in the same class. El Al also has codeshare agreements with Iberia, SWISS, Austrian Airlines, LOT Polish Airlines, Tandem Aero, Burgaria Air, Aerosvit and Brussels Airlines where members can earn points on codeshare flights that are operated with El Al's LY airline code.

The number of hotel partners is significantly greater than airline partners. Hotel partners include Hilton (14 points per stay), Starwood (12 points per stay), InterContinental (1 point per $20 spent), Golden Tulip (5-16 points per stay) and Radisson SAS (20 points per stay), among others.

Car rental partners include Avis (10-15 points per rental), Hertz (10 points per rental), Sixt (12 points) and Budget (10 points per rental).

Matmid Club members also have a healthy variety of telecommunications partners to choose from, including O12, O13, ITS Telecom, BoomeRing and Iridium.

El Al does not offer its own co-branded credit card, but a number of other credit card loyalty program currencies can be converted into Matmid Club points. American Express Membership Rewards Points, for example, can be converted at a rate of 70:1, and Diners Club points, at a 50:1 rate.

Retail and miscellaneous partners include El Al Fly and Buy, AIG Golden Insurance, H. Stern, Hazorfim, Priority Pass and The Jerusalem Post, among others.

Members may also opt to donate points to one of El Al's charity partners: Chai Lifeline, Friends of the Israel Defense Forces, Make-A-Wish Foundation and Ezra Lemarpeh.



Matmid Club is one of the few programs in the world that offers benefits to its base-level members. Once enrolled, a new member can take advantage of priority seat selection and an extra five kg of checked baggage to all destinations except North America.

The four-tiered elite-level program includes Silver, Gold, Platinum and Top Platinum Circle levels. Silver membership is attained by accumulating 1,000 base points or more from El Al flights during 12 consecutive months. Only points earned from flying on El Al will count toward elite status qualification. Membership can be renewed for 800 points during that period. Silver benefits include a 10-percent earning bonus, guaranteed seating in coach class up to 72 hours before a flight for tickets in Y class, reduced price last-minute upgrades 48 hours before a flight, waitlist priority and an extra five kg baggage allowance (not on flights to or from North America).

Gold membership can be reached after earning 2,000 points in a year, and renewed for 1,800 points. Benefits include all those of Silver, plus complimentary membership in the King David Club, including preferential check-in at the King David Club counters and entry to El Al's lounges, an additional 25 percent on all points accumulated on El Al flights, guaranteed seating in coach class Y up to 48 hours beforehand, exemption from payment for an upgrade voucher taken out less than 10 days before the day of ticketing (express processing), carry-on luggage allowance of one suitcase (of standard size) plus a portable computer in economy class (with a combined weight of up to 12 kgs), a special e-mailbox for express customer service by the club service center and 10 kgs extra luggage allowance (excluding North American flights). Gold members have access to additional award inventory for one and a half times the regular number of points required. Also, Gold members can purchase upgrades from the less expensive booking classes B and Q for twice as many points as booking classes S and M.

Platinum membership (5,000 points in a year, 4,500 points to renew) includes an additional 50 percent elite bonus points, guaranteed seating in coach class Y up to 24 hours before a flight and a 50-percent discount on the price of last-minute upgrades from business to first class. Express award ticketing fees and change and cancellation fees are waived for Platinum members.

Top Platinum membership is given to members who earn 10,000 points in a year. Platinum members can earn Top Platinum status after flying 65 segments and earning 9,000 points, which is also the renewal requirement. Top Platinum members receive all of the benefits of the lower level tiers, plus personalized service by a Personal Account Manager who will assist you with your account and reservations. Top Platinum members also receive two free upgrades to business class, El Al Platinum concierge services, King David Club lounge membership for member plus a spouse, guaranteed business class C seating up to 24 hours before departure, preferred seating, one free early check-in at home service, a welcome gift, special invitations to member events, five percent discount on El Al's duty free purchases and ground transportation to the airport when flying on a first class award ticket.



Matmid Club points earned from flying El Al expire in three years. Points earned from all partner activity do not have an expiration date. An award voucher is valid for one year from its date of issue, and can be transferred to any other person of your choice, on the condition that the name of the passenger who will be flying is indicated on the voucher when it is ordered. Changing the name of the person on the voucher will entail a $30 handling fee. An unused voucher can be returned and credited to the member's account for a $30 handling fee.

If you have at least half the number of points required for an award ticket, you can purchase up to 1,000 additional points for $1 per point. Points can also be purchased and given as a gift at the same price. Points cannot be transferred or combined.

A one-time joining fee of $20 will be charged to members who sign up for Matmid Club via the Web site. The fee for joining by calling the service center is $25. All new members will receive a welcome gift of 30 points. Anyone aged two and up can join the program.



Matmid Club members can contact the service center via phone, fax, email or regular mail. Platinum and Gold members have access to the call center 24 hours a day and everyone else can call Sunday through Thursday, 8am to 7pm and Friday and holidays, 8am to 1pm. When we called the New York service center, we were pleased with the courtesy of the agent but we were on hold for more than five minutes waiting to speak with someone. Elite members have access to an exclusive phone line and are connected directly with Matmid services without having to wait.

The general impression we get from seasoned El Al travelers is of a solid, generally positive experience. One Matmid Club member who voted for the program in this year's Freddie Awards said, "El Al Matmid continues to offer its members great rewards and excellent customer service."



El Al's site offers many functions you would expect of a major program, including online enrollment, award charts, program information and news. Flight award vouchers and flight reservations for El Al flights can be made online but awards on partner airlines can only be made over the phone.
Members may manage their accounts online on the e-club page and they can elect to receive online information regarding the Club, including Club messages and a point balance report. Missing point requests for El Al flights can be made online.

For those who like to keep tabs on their account at all times, El Al also offers a text message service that will let you know how many points are in your account at any time upon request.

Even non-elite members receive extra benefits from participating in Matmid Club and the number of points required to requalify for elite levels is lower than the initial requirement. Offering one-way awards for half the cost of roundtrip awards is a plus and the last-minute reduced upgrade awards offered to elite members is welcomed.

Matmid Club also offers the option to redeem points for a portion of the fuel surcharge of an award ticket. Matmid Kids Club for children aged 2-12 offers a specially designed membership card along with a booklet offering discounts and entertainment. El Al has a reputation for being family friendly.

El Al's partner list is adequate, but we'd like to see more than five airline partners and more award options in addition to flight awards. The three-year point expiration policy makes it difficult, if not impossible, for members flying in the cheapest seats to ever accumulate enough points for an award flight. And while the $25-$30 fee to join the program is low, and you get bonus points for signing on, most programs don't charge a joining fee.


El Al Israel Airlines, Ltd.
Matmid Frequent Flyer Club
P.O. Box 41
Ben-Gurion Airport, Israel 70100

In New York:
15 E. 26th St., 6th floor
New York, USA

Fax: (212) 852-0641

email: clubs@elal.co.il

  Earning Ability Award Choices Partnerships Elite-Level Rules & Conditions Service Support Online Services Overall Rating
7.50 7.00 7.00 8.00 6.50 8.50 8.00 7.50
7.63 7.79 7.46 7.83 7.69 7.71 7.77 7.70

(113 ratings)


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