Update, 10/30: It appears that today may be the last day to change cancelled American flights to Tel Aviv to El Al, British Airways, or Iberia. The re-ticketing period may be further extended, or the only option after today may be to get a refund, or perhaps just the El Al option will be eliminated after today.
It’s worth noting that since this article was written Delta has announced that they are moving from 7 to 11 weekly flights to Tel Aviv and United has announced that they are launching 3 weekly San Francisco-Tel Aviv flights on their new 787-900s, as was predicted 3 years ago.
Update, 08/30: American has reached a protect agreement with El Al, in addition to previously available options to be reaccomodated on British Airways and Iberia. And you can request a refund as well if no options work for you.
There are fare class requirements to be moved to El Al:
So if you are booked in an inexpensive O or Q fare class on American you might get lucky and be put on El Al, but officially they will only put you on BA, Iberia, or offer a refund. It appears that the commenter was on an O class fare and got lucky, so it’s worth using HUCA if you get shot down at first.
If you are booked in N class for example, you will officially only be rebooked on El Al if El Al has U class availability for the flight you are requesting. You can fly El Al out of Boston, JFK, Newark, or Toronto, and dates may be slightly flexible, so it is worth asking about all of those options to try to find a flight with inventory that matches what they can provide you.
Update, 08/20 at 5:30pm: The flights have now been pulled from AA.com. The final flight from Philadelphia-Tel Aviv will be on 01/04 and the final flight from Tel Aviv-Philadelphia will depart on 01/05.
Originally posted on 08/20 at 1:30pm:
USAirways has been serving the Philadelphia-Tel Aviv route since 2009 and now just as their merger is finalized the route is going away, proving once again that airline mergers are never good for consumers.
I flew the route to Tel Aviv with my family earlier this year due to the business class award availablity glitch, and it’s definitely one of the best business class seats that fly between North America and Tel Aviv, so it’s a real shame to lose the route.
On 11/19/13 I made a number predictions about the American-USAirways merger. Several have already come true. The American OneWorld round-the-world award chart was killed. USAirways started collecting fuel surcharges on British Airways and killed their lucrative off-peak awards. American and El Al ended their relationship.
American still owes Israeli ex-TWA employees over $15 million.
However American is saying that the reason for the cancellation is that the route has always been a money-loser.
That’s rather curious as USAirways’ president Scott Kirby has called the route among the most lucrative in their system. Newark-Tel Aviv was also publicly called the most profitable in Continental’s system in the past.
Of course profit is a funny thing. United CEO Jeff Smisek lied about Cleveland’s hub not being profitable when the real reason for the cuts was a severe regional jet pilot shortage. But that couldn’t be the stated public reason because that would make United liable to pay millions of dollars to Cleveland and Ohio for pulling out against their promise to keep the Cleveland hub alive as long as it remained profitable. United is even adding flights back to Cleveland , including several nonstops to Florida and more routes will be returned as well according to sources.
Profit can easily be manipulated by attributing various costs to the flight. And no doubt the cost of paying back the ex-TWA workers is a factor here.
Or perhaps American doesn’t want to pay off TWAs debts to avoid setting a precedent of paying off TWAs debts when they only purchased TWAs assets in the first place?
I’m sure some people will say the BDS movement was a factor here. I find that difficult to believe as OneWorld airlines like Royal Jordanian, Air Berlin, British Airways, Finnair, and Iberia continue to serve Tel Aviv. That makes about as much sense as the ZoA boycotting Lufthansa.
At any rate, American is stating that they will not be serving Tel Aviv from other hubs. Both their JFK and Miami routes are natural fits for service to Tel Aviv, so if American’s issues are ever resolved I’d expect routes from those hubs rather than Philadelphia.
American will be contacting customers booked to fly the Philadelphia-Tel Aviv route next year with options for alternate arrangements or a refund.
For now the route is still bookable, so you can still grab an award seat or cheap ticket and you’ll be reaccommodated on another airline or you’ll get a refund if you don’t agree with the reaccommodation offer.
American has a whopping 9 hubs now. I have to wonder if hubs like Phoenix or Philadelphia, that are so close to Los Angeles and JFK respectively, will be around in 5 years from now?
I do think that other airlines will pick up the slack here.
This should be a golden opportunity for United to add Chicago or San Francisco to Tel Aviv service on a 787-900. Perhaps El Al will use their upcoming 787s to serve Miami?
Will American restart their relationship with El Al? That would indeed be a nice consolation prize for losing this route.