El Al to Add Surcharge on Free Tix

There will be no more free flights for El Al frequent fliers. As of June the company will begin charging a fuel surcharge of $50 to $120, for bonus tickets as well, according to a letter sent by the manager of the El Al Matmid Frequent Flier Club to its members. The move has irked club members, who complain the company continues to make it more difficult to apply frequent flier points to free flight tickets.

In her letter the frequent flier club's manager says the new fuel surcharge is in response to the sharp rise in the price of fuel worldwide. "Other airlines in the world have been charging fuel surcharges on bonus tickets for years. Unfortunately, in light of the sharp increases in fuel world wide, we are forced to follow suit," she said.

The surcharge will be applicable from June 5, and bonus tickets issued until June 4, including for flights later than June 5, will not be charged unless the number of frequent flier points used to acquire the ticket totals less than 75 percent of the total points required for the full ticket.

The surcharge cost will be set according to the various flight destinations. For instance, destinations in the region will be charged $50 per ticket, and more distant destinations such as the U.S. will be charged $120 per ticket.

A senior source at El Al said that although there was a small, temporary drop in fuel prices in early 2007, this trend has halted, and prices have stabilized at levels similar to the average in 2006.

Because fuel is a significant component of El Al's operational costs, the company has decided to implement a policy similar to that prevailing in most foreign airlines and cancel the unusual benefit that has been enjoyed to date. The source noted that the fuel surcharge is in fact lower than most airlines that fly to Israel.