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A trip to the Holy Land has been at the top of my family’s bucket list for my entire life. Next year, barring any high risk security threats, we are going to take the trip. We will be spending roughly two weeks traveling through Israel, Palestine, and Jordan. While there are many ways to connect from the States into Israel, direct options are quite limited. I’ve gone back and forth as to the best way to route, and have landed on quite an exciting itinerary. We want to take the trip at a leisurely pace, incorporate days ahead of touring to adjust to the time zone, and fly in comfort. I couldn’t be happier with how things have unfolded.
How I’ve thought about routing…
Many of Israel’s regional neighbors won’t fly into Israel directly, so this requires some creative routing if you can’t find direct availability.
Since Etihad opens up quite a bit of space a year in advance out of JFK to AUH I’ve often thought about putting my parents in Apartments, fly through Abu Dhabi, connect to Jordan, and adjust to the time zone at a Dead Sea resort. This is quite an arduous journey even in comfort. Same with QSuites or Emirates as it requires multiple connections and often a night’s stay en route. There are lots of
The ideal would be to fly direct into Tel Aviv. This would be most attractive as we could connect domestically, then fly long haul in comfort, go to a hotel and recover for a few days. We’d then aim to end the trip in Jordan, with many options to route back.
Direct options from North America
- Air Canada
- Montreal, seasonally
- New York
- El Al
- New York
- San Francisco
- Beginning May 2019
- San Francisco
We got very fortunate and locked down United’s premiere product, Polaris on their 777-300ER, direct from Newark.
I’ll write a follow up post with instructions, but since my Dad carries Marriott Platinum, which in turn gives United Silver, I wanted to book the tickets for my parents through his account. We consolidated their Ultimate Reward points into his account, transferred instantly to United, and booked online. The total for these tickets was 75k points + $10 per person.
For my ticket I transferred Citi, Chase, and Amex points into Singapore. The Amex and Chase transfer took roughly 6 hours, while the Citi populated the next morning, less than 24 hours later. 69k points and $20. The only issue here was that I couldn’t book online. I phoned in, booked, and the phone fee was waived.
We will all sit bulkhead in Row 1 – Mom and Dad in 1 D/G while I’ll be in 1A. Bulkhead seats provide larger footwells which is why we chose these over other seats.
For the return we will route from Amman back via Doha in QSuites.
The plan is to check out Petra, travel to Amman, spend a day or two there and then head out. Qatar has been quite generous in releasing space between the East Coast and Doha when booked in advance so this is where we strategized. Luckily, I found space available from Amman to Doha to Washington D.C. – BYAH! This will be done for roughly 70k AA + $100
In order to find the space you need to piece each segment together as they can’t be found on AA.com . I searched using British Airways, then phoned into American to book. They should waive the phone booking fee when doing this.
How did we accumulate the points?
As I described above, my parents only used Ultimate Rewards. They consolidated their points, and then used my Dad’s account because of his elite status, and transferred instantly. They both keep separate accounts, accrue their own points, and each of them have Chase Sapphire Reserves and Freedoms.
For my ticket, I used Singapore Airlines. I like Singapore because they have low change fees, and also because it priced 6k points cheaper. I transferred miles from each of three flexible currencies: Amex, Citi, and Chase.
I have a ton of American miles accumulated from being loyal to them for several years and also from putting spend on cards like the American Airlines Platinum Select credit card from Citi. My parents also keep this card and have accumulated AA miles via Barclay Aviator cards.
If you have any tips for me/us before going, we’d love to hear them. Including tour companies, guides, sights, restaurants, etc. I have a list that I’m compiling, but seeing as though the trip is so far in the future, I’m constantly amending and updating.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great starter card that earns Premium Ultimate Rewards that can be transferred into over a dozen partners many of which are US based.
60k Points after $4k spend in 3 months
80k offer in branch currently – I think this should be online soon
Transferrable Chase Ultimate Rewards
Super solid welcome offer.
If you carry this card alongside Chase’s cashback cards like the Chase Freedom Flex℠and Chase Freedom Unlimited® or the business versions: Ink Business Cash , Ink Business Unlimited you can combine the points into Preferred account and transfer into hotel and airline partners
Annual fee is quite low at $95 a year + you get a 10% anniversary bonus on points + $50 hotel credit in Chase travel.
- 3x on dining
- including eligible delivery services for takeout
- 3x on select streaming services
- 3x on online grocery purchases
- (excluding Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs)
- 5x on all travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards – Chase Travel Portal
- $50 Annual Credit on hotel stays purchased via Ultimate Rewards/Chase Travel
- The begins immediately for new cardmembers and after your account anniversary for existing cardmembers
- 10% Anniversary Bonus
- Every year you keep the card, your total spend will yield a 10% points bonus. If you spend $10k in a year, you’ll get 1k bonus points
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® continues to redeem at 1.25c in the Chase Travel Portal and the slew of other benefits remain in tact including primary rental car insurance, purchase protections, etc.
- Points are transferrable to 13 Ultimate Rewards partners
- Redeem in the Chase Travel center for 1.25 cents per point
- No foreign transaction fees
- Suite of Travel and Purchase Coverage
- Primary rental car coverage is my favorite
There is currently an 80k offer after $4k spend in 3 months available in branch, and up to 90k after $6k spend in 6 months. I suspect some version of this will be online soon if you don’t want the hassle of going into a branch.
We keep an up to date spreadsheet that lists the best ever offers: You can find that spreadsheet here.
Historically 60k is a very, very good offer. In 2021, we saw the offer hit an all time high of 100k. Who knows if that will ever come back. .
Cards that earn flexible points and should be used on the bulk of your purchases.
Cards that earn fixed points in the currency of the airline/hotel and can not be transferred at attractive rates. These cards yield benefits that make it worth keeping, but not necessarily worth putting a lot of your everyday spend on.