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Israel's flag carrier unveils major South Florida expansion after American cuts key route

Feb. 18, 2023
4 min read
Israel's flag carrier unveils major South Florida expansion after American cuts key route
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South Florida will soon be connected with Israel by two exciting airline routes.

Israel's flag carrier, El Al, announced on Wednesday that it was adding a new destination to its route map: Fort Lauderdale.

Beginning on Sept. 13, El Al will commence nonstop service from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) to Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Airport (TLV) for a limited time during the Jewish high holidays, which last through mid-October.

El Al will then begin year-round service from Fort Lauderdale starting at an undisclosed date in spring 2024. El Al's new flights for fall 2023 are already bookable via the carrier's website, and they'll operate on Sept. 13, 20 and 27 and Oct, 5, 10 and 12.

In addition to the new Fort Lauderdale service, the carrier will add a sixth weekly flight to its existing service from Miami International Airport (MIA) to TLV, which has been served off and on over the years.

El Al does not operate on the Jewish Sabbath, so six weekly flights on a long-haul route are as close as the carrier can get to daily service.

All flights to and from South Florida will operate on El Al's new Boeing 787 Dreamliners, which are configured in a three-cabin layout with top-notch business-class pods, spacious premium economy recliners and an economy cabin that features plenty of extra-legroom seating options.

ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

El Al's move comes as the carrier is filling a big void left by American Airlines, which recently announced that it's pulling out of the Miami to Tel Aviv market in a surprising turn of events.

American launched the new Miami route in June 2021 and originally operated it on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays in the eastbound direction using a 273-seat Boeing 777-200.

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The service was so successful that the airline upgraded the route to daily service on Oct. 28, 2022, roughly 16 months after it first launched. The route is now flown by a smaller 234-seat Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner, but the daily frequency brought a big capacity boost to the market.

Yet, just three months later, American did a 180 and decided to cancel the route effective March 24. American didn't provide an explanation, blaming the cut on the "continuous evaluation of our network."

South Florida is a major market for origin and destination traffic to and from Israel, and El Al alone carried more than 100,000 passengers on 450-plus flights between Miami and Tel Aviv throughout 2022. Therefore, it seemingly makes sense for the carrier to capitalize on American's pullback with its own big service expansion.

“As demand for travel continues to increase from Florida to Israel, across all segments, we’re confident that the new service to Fort Lauderdale will exceed our customers’ expectation for service, convenience and value,” said Marc Cavaliere, El Al's senior vice president for the Americas, in a statement.

Another big winner as part of the El Al announcement is FLL, which hasn't been connected to the Middle East since Emirates pulled out of the airport at the outset of the pandemic and moved its operations roughly 30 miles south to Miami.

FORT LAUDERDALE-HOLLYWOOD INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

El Al's announcement came the same week that FLL unveiled renderings for its newly proposed five-gate Terminal 5, which could come to fruition in the coming years.

Travelers living or visiting areas north of Fort Lauderdale will likely prefer the convenience of flying from FLL, which is smaller and more manageable than Miami, the region's largest and busiest airport.

Whether there's enough demand for service from two South Florida airports to Israel is anyone's guess, but it does work in the New York area, where multiple major airlines, including El Al, fly from both John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) to Tel Aviv with up to eight total daily flights.

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Featured image by ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

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Sometimes it's worth a large investment to reap the benefits of a great credit card. That's exactly the case with the Amex Platinum card. In exchange for the annual fee, you'll unlock access to the Amex Membership Rewards program that let you access airline and hotel transfer partners, along with new lifestyle and travel credits. This card is also incredibly rewarding for travel purchases, helping you rack up a ton of Membership Rewards points for your next award trip.

Pros

  • The current welcome offer on this card is quite lucrative. TPG values it at $1,600.
  • This card comes with a long list of benefits, including access to Centurion Lounges, complimentary elite status with Hilton and Marriott, at least $500 in assorted annual statement credits and so much more. (Enrollment required for select benefits.)
  • The Amex Platinum comes with access to a premium concierge service that can help you with everything from booking hard-to-get reservations to finding destination guides to help you plan out your next getaway.

Cons

  • The high annual fee is only worth it if you’re taking full advantage of the card’s benefits. Seldom travelers may not get enough value to warrant the cost.
  • Outside of the current welcome bonus, you’re only earning higher rewards on specific airfare and hotel purchases, so it’s not a great card for other spending categories.
  • The annual airline fee statement credit can be complicated to take advantage of compared to the broader travel credits offered by competing premium cards.
  • Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Apply and select your preferred metal Card design: classic Platinum Card®, Platinum x Kehinde Wiley, or Platinum x Julie Mehretu.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings, which requires a minimum two-night stay, through American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®.
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 back each month on eligible purchases made with your Platinum Card® on one or more of the following: Audible, Disney+, The Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, Peacock, SiriusXM, and The New York Times. Enrollment required.
  • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Cover the cost of a $12.95 monthly Walmart+ membership with a statement credit after you pay for Walmart+ each month with your Platinum Card. Cost includes $12.95 plus applicable local sales tax. Plus Ups are excluded.
  • American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. There are even more places your Platinum Card® can get you complimentary entry and exclusive perks.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one select qualifying airline.
  • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member only.
  • Get up to $300 back per calendar year on the Equinox+ digital fitness app, or eligible Equinox club memberships when you pay with your Platinum Card. Enrollment required. Learn more.
  • Breeze through security with CLEAR® lanes available at 100+ airports, stadiums, and entertainment venues and get up to $189 back per calendar year on your membership when you use your Card. Learn more.
  • $695 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees