El Al doesn’t operate flights on Shabbos, but they do operate flights that land close to Shabbos and take off shortly after Shabbos.
El Al had a number of high profile diversions in 2018 that I wrote about:
- Here’s How El Al Circumvents Shabbos Flight Restrictions
- El Al Diverts Flight 8 From JFK To Tel Aviv, Shamefully Flies Passengers Far Too Close To Shabbos And Strands Them At Athens Airport
- Reader Question: Does El Al Owe Compensation For The Flight 8 Diversion? [El Al Responds: No, We Do Not]
- The Captain Of El Al’s Flight #002 Lied To And Tricked His Own Passengers; It’s Time To Realize The Risks Of Taking These Flights
- Did El Al Invent Charedi Violence To Shift The Blame Away From The Airline’s Mistakes? A Timeline And The ATC Audio Where El Al Receives Permission To Return To The Gate
- After Lawsuit Is Filed, El Al CEO Admits There Was No Physical Violence On Flight #002
- Looking Into The Positive Side Of The El Al Flight #002 Fiasco: An Inspirational Shabbos, Thanks To Chabad Of Athens
- El Al Is Sending A New Plane To Take Diverted Passengers From Goose Bay Air Force Base To Tel Aviv
- El Al Flight 1008 Has Just Taken Off From Goose Bay To Tel Aviv; Listen To The Audio Of The El Al Mayday Call!
- With El Al, What’s Good For The Goose Isn’t Good For The Gander; How El Al Managed To Anger Everyone On Flight 8
If you do observe Shabbos, hopefully you know the risks of Friday arrivals on El Al. But even if you don’t observe Shabbos, you probably know by now that you should avoid Friday El Al flights as these are the most likely to be diverted. They aren’t diverted because of protesting Ultra-Orthodox Jews as some media outlets would have you believe, as those Jews would have preferred to exit the flight before it departed. They’re diverted because El Al is not allowed to operate passenger flights on Shabbos.
El Al always prefers to get the plane back to Israel on Shabbos so that it can operate the return flight from Israel after Shabbos. That’s why they don’t let passengers off the plane even after lengthy delays on the tarmac as they would rather divert to Athens and then ferry the plane back empty to Israel on Shabbos so that they don’t need to cancel the Saturday night flight from Tel Aviv.
However I’ve never noticed El Al sale fares that are only valid for Friday travel until today.
A reader tipped us off to a $379 bargain from Tel Aviv to Johannesburg:
As I was researching valid dates I noticed that the sale appeared to only be valid for Friday departures from Tel Aviv, arriving into Johannesburg on Friday afternoon:
And sure enough, Expert Flyer confirms that the sale is only valid for Friday departures:
I don’t see any other El Al sale fares that have a Friday restriction, but perhaps that’s how El Al plans to fill seats on more of these risky flights in the future?
It might look like a deal, but as Big Gedalia Goomber would say…