There is a lot of misinformation on the internet and even with customer service representatives! Because some of that misinformation affects people who are trying to get the truth on certain situations direct from the company, it can helpful to know what is truth and what is error. In that spirit, I will be running a new series of posts from time to time called According to the Rep and give examples of what reps say and why it is wrong.
According to the Rep: Israel Is NOT In Europe
This edition of According to the Rep is actually a little different – in the general sense, the rep was actually correct. But, in the weird way that airlines run their geographical definitions, the rep was wrong.
The Back Story
My favorite award program for booking business class between Europe and the US is Aegean’s Miles+Bonus. Not only do they have a very favorable price (45,000 miles one way) but they are also the airline I credit all of my Star Alliance miles to.
So, I had called one time to book an a business class ticket from Tel Aviv to New York. Thanks to Aegean’s award map, Israel also falls within the 45,000 mile business class ticket definition. But, the rep right away told me I did not have enough miles for a business class ticket from Tel Aviv to the US (I was just over 45,000 miles). I explained that Israel is part of the European award map but the rep stopped me to say,
Sir, Israel is NOT in Europe.
First things first – the rep was absolutely correct in the geographical (and most) case. Israel is NOT in Europe. Nor is Israel in North Africa. But, when it comes to airline award geography, some programs do classify Israel outside of its normal designation of Asia (or the Middle East).
Flying Blue (the award program for KLM and Air France) puts Israel in Europe 3 which makes it great for their award chart and booking Delta flights for 20,000 miles fewer round trip than Delta charges!
Aegean, the airline I was trying to use here, puts Israel in their North Africa quadrant which offers awards to the US at the same price as awards from Europe. This means an economy ticket is 30,000 miles (unlike United which charges 42,500 miles) but a business class ticket on Turkish with Aegean miles only costs 45,000 miles as opposed to using United miles and paying 80,000 miles for the same flight!
It pays to check the different award charts to see which airlines might charge the least amount of miles to fly between your choice of cities. With programs like Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou Points, American Express Membership Rewards, and SPG Starpoints, you can transfer to a variety of airlines so do your home work to see where it is best to transfer your points!
Fun fact: Using Aegean’s geographical categories, you could actually fly United business class from Tel Aviv, Israel to Port of Spain, Trinidad for only 45,000 miles! If United ever released enough business class award space on that Tel Aviv flight… 🙂