El Al Closing “Up”; Announces New Route Between Tel Aviv And North America

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I noted back in 2013 that El Al was planning on launching a low cost airline within an airline called “Up.”

I wrote that instead of fixing their awful mileage program and website they were launching the new airline and to be sure to fly it soon as it wouldn’t last long. The same model was tried by Continental (Lite, 93-95), Delta (Song, 03-06), United (Ted 04-09), and USAirways (MetroJet 98-01) with no success.

And indeed it didn’t last very long. El Al has announced that they will close the airline and instead offer basic economy style bundles on El Al flights to Europe. All flights will operate from Terminal 3 once again. Just think of the money they would have saved by reading that post or this 2014 post with suggestions on where to invest instead of spending millions of dollars on the losing battle called Up…

I do have to give major kudos to El Al for finally getting real business class seats on their 787s, something I panned in both of those posts. Now if only they would bring someone in to fix their website and their Matmid mileage program. After I panned their massive 2015 devaluation I got a phone call from the Matmid executive who was the face of the devaluation and tried to spin it as something positive. I gave them 90 minutes of my advice, but sadly, nothing good came out of it.

In other news, El Al announced that they will take on United head-on with their own nonstop 787 service to San Francisco in Q4.

United serves that route with 787-8s that do not have direct aisle access from all business class seats, while El Al’s 787s do have direct aisle access from all business class seats.

United could respond by protecting their hub with 77W Polaris service with direct aisle access from all business class seats between San Francisco and Tel Aviv, but that will flood the market with tons of extra coach and business class capacity that will drive down airfares. That could be a short-term strategy to try to force El Al out of the market. But either way, the added capacity should be a good thing for consumers.

It’s interesting that El Al picked San Francisco before a route without competition like Baltimore/DC or Chicago. Though I’d be very surprised if one or both of those cities don’t get a nonstop flight to Tel Aviv by the end of the year from either El Al or United.

HT: tavster, via DDF

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60 Comments On "El Al Closing “Up”; Announces New Route Between Tel Aviv And North America"

All opinions expressed below are user generated and the opinions aren’t provided, reviewed or endorsed by any advertiser or DansDeals.


Dan – I feel like you have been saying for a few years that Chicago will eventually get a direct to Tel Aviv route. I hope you are finally proven right.


have you flown the new elal 787 ???


I have a flight booked with them in July. Any idea what will happen to my ticket?

New York jets

What happens if you booked an up flight from Berlin to Tel Aviv in march??


When is Houston going to get a direct flight to TLV?! We’re dying for it


I cant find any availability NYC – TLV with points on the new 787.
any suggestions ?

Burton Wittenberg

We the people of Atl. once had a Delta non stop.
we look forward to someone non stop agains
El Al would be great.. Delta don’t understand why they stopped


Has Lufthansa’s Germanwings worked?

It\'s all about tech travel policy...

Silicon Valley companies, as long as things still go well, buy up First and Business Class… at premium prices. That’s why United launched this route to begin with. And I know this from a tech industry insider that was part of the contingent that convinced United to make it a priority. As for El Al, another tech and airline security industry is motivated to increase competition and drive down prices.


Would be nice if DL added their 2nd flight from JFK again. Or at the very least fix the Thursday departures. Not too long ago, DL was smart enough to realize that the Thur JFK-TLV flight should leave earlier due to Shabbat. When they added the 2nd flight that left around 4PM, they adjusted the “regular” Thur flight to the regular 11PM time-slot.

But when they got rid of the 2nd flight — they never returned the Thursday flight to the earlier timeslot.

I still believe this costs them more than they make by the late departure time (which obviously helps with connections). Cost them many flights from me


if former “up” flights start leaving from terminal 3, that would be amazing. If they keep it in terminal one, many will continue to prefer another airline so long as it leaves form terminal 3.

Ahuva Veig

Dan, do you see any possibility that they will restore direct flight from Phila.?


El Al lost my bags and refuses to take responsibility for them. Some of the rudest, most incompetent DIB’s that I’ve ever dealt with. Their customer service is a joke. Just a bunch of monkeys hired to say “sorry, I can’t help you.”
Usually I’ll gladly accept inferior service (old planes, cramped seats, bad food, no inflight entertainment…all things El Al excels at) if it means a good deal, but I will never fly elal again, no matter how much cheaper they are than their competitors

Steve John

Those of us who live and work in the Philadelphia market have a saying, “To live in Philadelphia is to HATE American Airlines” (Previously it was ‘HATE US Air’).

The list is endless. From over-the-top rude (i.e. racist against white males) domestic check-in personnel, to near zero availability of Reward seats, to exaggerated flight air time to meet artificially inflate their on-time numbers, to dropping their lounge and status agreement with American Express Centurion card.

But the top prize was cancelling the non-stop PHL-TLV flight when they merged with US Air. PHL-TLV/TLV-PHL flew at nearly 100% capacity and was making money. Dan has commented before about the old TWA pension issues. This is a long way of my saying, as much as I dislike taking El Al (see below), I would suffer through them if they flew from PHL. However, as long as I have to travel to EWR or JFK for a nonstop to TLV, I will not take them.

I finally gave in after 10 years of abstinence and tried EL Al last May 2017 from EWR. I will not fly them again unless they are the only nonstop option. We all know about the seat crush. However, believe it or not, beverages were only offered 1 time during the entire flight. If you wanted water, you could fetch your own 7oz cup from the bulkhead area. NO fruit, no snacks, not even a stale TamTam. On the flight back, they at least put out a few bananas. That being said, they are still a better airline than American Airlines.

AA is by far the worst out there.


As far as AA award availability PHL beats NYC on domestic flights. I often drive to PHL for their relatively amazing award availability.

Enjoy your blessings.

Michael Weather

Oh my gosh! I thought it was just me. Steve John is 100% correct about the check-in young women at the AA domestic counter. They really do dislike and act rude to white men.

When I complained to a supervisor that the check in person would not even look at me or acknowledge my presence, other than to toss me back my psassport and go back to looking at her IPhone, the Suprvisor said (in the check-in person’s presence): “Well, different young black women have different ways of dealing with men”.

You can’t make this stuff up! It’s Delta for me.


Thumbs up! I’ve flown with US Airways NYC-PHL-TLV. It was my worst travel experience.


SFO is a very logical destination. UA’s daily flight to TLV are mostly full, with tickets prices around $1800 for coach on the high season, and business class north of $5000. That’s only possible b/c of the high demand from tens of thousands of Israelis (and tech employees) around the SF Bay Area, that have been asking for such a route for years.


I need them to bring ATL service back. It will make my commute to work much easier


You commute to Israel?


Nicely written. However, can you please remove the part about El Al fixing their website already? Perhaps you haven’t paid a visit to elal.com in a very long time….
But I agree that a good FF partnership would be nice. (At least open QF awards to NA online)


For a long time a local Israeli community used to run http://sfotlv.org/ “SFO TLV in 14.5 Hours”. Now its down, but it was about how profitable would be this route. We filled surveys and many companies confirmed that they would be interested. AFAIK they presented this to United, El-Al and Delta. El Al turned down because they didn’t want to damage their LAX-TLV flight and Delta thought it would not be profitable. United picked that research and


This falls under the “who cares category”. El Al offers disgusting service – actually exactly what you’d expect from an Israeli company. Suggest passengers try air Canada business class.

david G Mann

Air Canada service is not much better. I tried them for 3 flights ( instead of United ) and had problems on all three. Their customer service is terrible. They don’t care about the passengers. And even told me this directly. Go figure.

My experiences 1) They closed the check in early in TLV, and bumped me from the flight. And charged a 250$ change fee 2) When I flight was delayed, they refused to put me on an earlier flight. I called the 1-800 number which did change me. But the people at the airport in Toronto were pissed off that I called the 1-800 number, they made exit the airport, re-claim my luggage and re-check it for the earlier flight. 3) They will NEVER book you on a partner airline. So if there is a problem with your flight, you will have to go out the following day.

Stay clear of them. Although, the plane is really nice.

Ochocinco Shadrach

Never had a prob w/Air Canada…always courteous and helpful to a fault….must have been a bad day for someone. My only issue is the cross-country trek from domestic arrival to TLV departure with hardly enough time for a bathroom break! And, yes, the 787 is a great plane for overseas flight!


Didn’t El Al have at one time direct service to TLV from Chicago?

Chi town

Yes and stop in ny to get more people as all waited on the plane

Reena the sakols

If ElAl is listening we would really like a direct flight from Chicago. I heard they cancelled flight years ago over some kind of argument here in Chicago…


Dan – How do you see PHX as a potential non-stop route to Tel Aviv, or perhaps European (Aside from Frankfort and London) or maybe even cities in Asia?

Bottom line

so the bottom line to me is, are there any SMOKING HOT DEALS on flights because of this?

abraham lowenstein

With me they missed the boat
I was 16 year a gold and platinum member now I am platinum with united.
I can tell u many more reasons they don’t use thire brains how to get frequent flyers happy with them
They are making it harder by the day.
With the new regulations


Dan- Many thanks for your wonderful posts and insights. Oh, and of course the deals.


The El Am 787 dreamliner business class is absolutely terrible. Disaster. Tiny and crammed seats.