Can’t Compete? Strike!

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Update #2: The strike is now over. The Israeli government has agreed to subsidize 97.5% of El Al’s security costs…which is all but guaranteed to make El Al complacent once again.

——————————————————————
Update #1, 04/22:  It seems from some of the comments that I have struck a wrong nerve.  I respectfully think they are getting caught up in the small details and missing the bigger picture.  I’m not the one that is being “anti-Israel.” 

The ones who are actually harming Israel are the current strikers who want to keep a broken protectionist system alive which is causing massive damage to the Israeli economy.  That damage is not just from the current strike, but it’s from trying to keep a system which drives away would-be tourists with artificially high airfares.  The current system is the one in which El Al is unable to turn a profit and will not continue to exist unless they shake things up.

United will likely start serving second tier cities like Chicago or San Francisco to Tel Aviv when they start getting more 787s online.  What exactly is El Al doing to modernize their fleet or to expand their service in North America beyond Los Angeles, New York, and Toronto?

The point of this article is merely to note some areas where El Al can improve itself so that it can start turning a profit and become an airline that is respected and not derided.

El Al and its apologists will likely have dozens of excuses, but excuses don’t work in business.  Innovation and keeping one step ahead of the competition is how you win in a free market.

——————————————————————

Originally posted on 04/21.

El Al as well as other Israeli carriers are cancelling flights due to their unions striking to protest the approval of an “open skies” agreement with Europe.  The airline had heavily lobbied against the agreement.

The open skies deal will be phased-in starting in 2014 and will be fully implemented by 2019.

The deal is sorely needed.  Tourism in Israel lags far behind where it should be due to the high cost of flying there.  Inviting more competition will drive down the cost of airfare and increase the number of tourists, who spend lots of money while in Israel propping up the entire economy.

This deal forces Israeli airlines like El Al to compete, something they’ve always struggled to do.  Striking will just leave people stranded with a bitter taste in their mouth for Israel’s national carrier.

Rather than protect what’s broken El Al needs to fix itself.  To do so it must finally decide if it plans to compete based on service, product, or on price.  As of now it does none of those and that’s why it’s financial situation is so dire.

It’s unlikely that El Al will be able to compete on price.  The unions aren’t about to accept massive pay cuts.  All their whining about keeping a national carrier afloat is malarkey, what they really want to do is keep their overpaid salaries afloat.  If faced with either taking large pay cuts to compete they would likely strike until El Al would be forced to liquidate.

I don’t know of any Israeli companies that compete based on service.  Customer service and the idea that the customer is always right simply doesn’t exist in Israel.
Still they most definitely have to fix the customer service problems that exist among so many of their flight attendants and call center operators, even if they never will compete on service as the Far East carriers do.

So El Al will have to compete on product.  Except that they are the only airline flying between the US and Israel without lie-flat seats in business class.  How many business class seats do they expect to sell when Air Canada, Delta, United, and USAirways all have lie-flat seats in business class?

Sure El Al has the only first class to Israel, but if first class is priced higher than the competition’s business class but offers a product that’s worse than USAirways’ Envoy seat then how can it compete?

Frequent flyers, from businesspeople to leisure passengers, love earning miles on flights.  But El Al’s Matmid program is the worst in the entire airline industry.

Mileage programs are massive profit centers for airlines.  They sell their miles to the credit card companies and thousands of other stores that realize the huge incentive of being able to offer miles to their customers.  In the past decade Delta and United were kept afloat in bankruptcy by American Express and Chase who prepaid for billions of dollars worth of miles to keep the airlines afloat. The mileage programs of these airlines are likely worth more than the airline itself.

And yet El Al doesn’t even try to compete for these dollars!

If you have United miles there are dozens of airlines that you can use them on, so even if there is no United availability there likely will be with a partner.  With Matmid miles you are forced to use them on El Al (yes El Al’s website claims you can use them on American but none of their agents know how to do this and the rates are ridiculous anyway) which typically has terrible availability.  This leaves customers regretting having accumulated El Al miles and teaches them a lesson for the future.

None of the US airlines charge a fuel surcharge when redeeming miles but El Al thinks they can compete while charging a $350 surcharge on award tickets.

None of the US airlines expire your miles if you have any account activity but El Al will expire your miles 3 years after your flight even with activity.  Good way to reward loyalty.

El Al increased the transfer ratio from American Express Membership Rewards into their Matmid program (as they get cold hard cash from  American Express when people transfer their points to El Al) but it’s still not competitive.  A coach ticket is 70K, a business ticket is 150K, and a first class ticket is a whopping 250K points.  150K points plus $350 for an inferior business class product is just the height of stupidity and arrogance.

It’s nice that you can use American miles to fly on El Al (business class is 135K with no fuel surcharges) but with the upcoming American-USAirways merger the El Al-American partnership will likely end if American continues USAirways’ flights to Israel. And in all likelihood American will add flights from their JFK and Miami hubs as soon as they get the TWA pension situation squared away.

El Al can stop the Matmid madness by:
1. Changing over their ridiculous point system to a mileage based system that the rest of the world has.
2. Making customer friendly moves like the elimination of mileage expiration and fuel surcharges.
3. Making their award chart competitive.

And don’t even get me started with El Al’s website.  In such a high-tech country you would think they would at least have done a good job on that front. Instead ElAl.com is one of the worst websites in the industry.

El Al recently was forced to roll out an Economy Plus section in response to Delta and United’s new comparable sections. It’s nice that they at least tried to match here, but why not innovate? Introduce the first true premium economy class between the US and Israel that would be affordable for leisure passengers (say 25%-50% more than coach rather than triple the price of coach like business class is) but could provide at least a semblance of bona-fide comfort, not just a few extra inches of legroom. That’s something (unlike a fare war) that can’t be easily matched by the US carriers and could provide El Al with a sorely needed competitive advantage.

A DDF member flew in first class to Israel and bumped into El Al’s CEO, Eliezer Shkedy, on the flight.  The DDF member applauded the first class service and meal but expressed his dismay about the first class seat itself which lags far behind other first class seats.  Shkedy only replied that “Nobody else has First Class seats from New York to Tel Aviv.” True in theory, but when your competition’s business class seats are better than your first class seats is that really something to be proud of?

It seems that such thinking is systemic within El Al.
The time to innovate is now, or they may not be an El Al much longer.

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91 Comments on "Can’t Compete? Strike!"

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jack

elal = EVERY LANDING ALWAYS LATE!

Noturbizniss

Well said.

hunch

Wow!

You left out the ” /rant ” 😉

Jack

well said Dan, well said, the question is how r we gonna make them take note

Dave

This is just to get started…..

Moishebatchy

Bravo, Dan. Well written.

Booky

Well written! I indeed feel very safe when flying with elal!

Anonymous

Well Said!

Anonymous

+1

Cholentfresser

Wow! Great article, very imformative, and very well written!

itsyehuda

Anyone that is striking to eliminate competition obviously has no plans to try and compete. They want to be kept afloat merely due to the fact that they exist. Forcing them to compete or die is the only way to make this right.

I’m actually more interested in how the other carriers will add service to Israel after this program takes effect.

It would also be interesting to have another international airport in Israel! How about a Jerusalem Airport?

It’s time for some real progress

Ez

How about the non availability of El Al seats for AAdvantage miles, And at both carrier’s no one can explain what’s going on?

Todah!!!

ElAl… Hachi Babayit B’aolam!! Rudest airline of them all! they deserve it! Well said Dan!!!

Jj

Well done sir.

lotofsimcha

Great post… Yep pretty pathetic that they can’t get there act together… As others mentioned people do feel safer flying elal so if they can ever change they really should be able to capture a large market share of the flights to and from…

abe

very well said especially regarding their customer service when i dealt with them regarding my ticket they hung up on me when i tried asking them where can i call 2 put in a complaint they said there is no phone # u have 2 wright an email & wait 30 days witch i did & still didn’t hear a response so after just having more of the same negative experience i thought of a more creative way i went to their face book page a wrought that i was really upset about their service & got a response that same day so if u would like 2 do a service 4 every one PLEASE POST THIS ARTICLE ON THEIR FACEBOOK PAGE ! well then again i would love 2 support the Jews in Israel so i really hope that they become competitive
Thanks again!!

Jason

What are you talking about? First class on El Al is excellent!

yaakov

Once an Israeli always!

Rubbing it in

It’s bad enough that they lost “millions of dollars” on the price mistake… now this?

C’mon man, are you gonna show El Al any love?

/Sarcasm

United Fan

DAN!!!!!Your 105% rite……………

I learned in Israel 5 years never flew with ElAl “Thanks God” just once I flew to Switzerland my flight was canceled (because a strike in cypress “almost as normal country like Israel what make strikes every Monday and Tuesday”) so they gave me an ElAl flight (i had business class) even tho it was terrible

Mikeoracle

I see this article was shared to the elal USA Facebook page. 🙂

elalflier

I flew Elal Business and the service and food was great.
Dan, stop being a fine shmeker, when you barely pay for tickets! Show some appreciation.

Jason

Dan,

As long as ELAL has the New York Jew crowd claiming “ELAL has the best security” ELAL won’t change. just my 2 cents!

naftoli

I always fly elal to Israel
However i fly to Europe with swiss united or british
However I always feel elal is better then all of them
Maybe some of them have a bit better seat but the service and kosher food covers for it.

When I go with my kids I even fly with them in elal couch however when I send my kids this passover with delta they still complain till now and will only fly elal

Meir

@elalflier: You sound like an idiot. We care how Dan gets to where he goes… and how he pays for it. Its his hard work which we all reap the benefits from. It just so happens to be that Elal has massive issues when it comes to competing with other competitors BUSINESS class products. Almost anyone would rather fly Swiss, United, Lufthansa etc. over Elal, if they are ok with a stopover.

harry

So true.

Happy

I also have had great luck with elal. I actually have liked it better than others. I also like that they do not fly on Shabbat. I would happily pay extra for that. I guess it depends on your priorities, weather you look at the big picture and are able to wisely consider the full reprecussions of the “open skies agreement”. I’m def with elal on this though perhaps for more reasons than just money.

Metziah

@elalflier ——-:—( you got some nerve where is your appreciation? why you bringing in “bodim MIT klutz”? You sound very bitter and shall I say very jealous? Yes you can state your opinion but the last line you wrote was totally uncalled for!!😡😡😡😡👺👺👺

Metziah

And shall I add , no appreciation needs to be shown to Elal, apparently you aren’t from the majority that unfortunately has had to deal with their rudeness and unfairness , it’s about time THEY get played with , maybe they’ll shape up!!!!Well said Dan!!!!

Pghtown

I am dismayed with this entire posting. ElAl is the flag-bearing airline of the State of Israel. Barely one week after Yom Haatzmaut honoring the miracle of the founding of the Jewish state, and we slam its airline because the first class seats don’t fully recline??? ElAl assumes additional costs compared to other airlines, including kosher food on all flights (even those flights originating outside of Israel), not flying on Shabbat, additional security measures etc etc. Yet you gripe about their frequent flier points and their seats! Shame on you DDF’ers who would rather give their money to airlines from other nations that are not Israel’s allies (e.g. Turkish Airlines) or to national carriers of countries that have perpetrated horrific crimes against the Jewish people (e.g. Lufthansa from Germany and the airlines from the former Soviet Union)- all for a better sleep over the Atlantic. I too believe in competition and customer service, but I will take a Jewish company over a goyish company any day. I am saddened by what I am reading here.

Dan

@Ez:
As far as I know this is only an issue now in business class between TLV and the far east.

@Jason:
The seat is inferior to business on any of the other airlines from North America.

@elalflier:
I would hope service and food in business should be great.

If they want to be competitive though they need to have a business class that is lie-flat. Otherwise most folks will go with the better product.

As far as not paying for tickets, the airlines actually make plenty off me. The banks pay cold hard cash for miles and the airlines only release seats that would go unsold anyway. It’s a cash infusion with no cost to them at all. And does that disqualify me from trying to help them out?

@Jason:
Even they know they have to change…they just don’t seem to know how.

@naftoli:
I’d complain too if I had to fly Delta…they stink as well!

@Meir:
Swiss has one heck of a good product to Israel.

@Happy:
@Pghtown:
And I’d argue that all of the extra tourists that Open Skies will bring to Israel will create FAR MORE JOBS and do FAR MORE GOOD for Israel than El Al has ever done.

Turkey has a tourism industry that is orders of magnitude greater than Israel’s. El Al and monopolistic and protectionist policies hurt the Israeli economy every day. It can be so much greater and help Israel so much more.

There’s no need to preach down to me as the point of this article is not just to slam El Al but how to fix El Al. Yom Haatzmaut is about Israel not about an airline that is actually causing harm to Israel and her economy. My point is that instead of striking to save their unprofitable company they should work on fixing El Al and they’ll be able to compete with the best of them.

I’m not griping about frequent flyer points. I’m explaining why they’re leaving hundreds of millions of dollars on the table due to foolish policies.

I’m not griping about a lie-flat seat. I’m explaining why United sells out their business class while El Al has to beg people in coach to pay $200 to upgrade to business because businesses aren’t flying their employees in a seat where they can’t get a good night’s sleep and arrive to their destination ready to go to a meeting.
If I had an employee in that situation I’d love nothing more than to support Israel’s national airline, but if they’re not going to try to win my business then shame on them.

As it is they’re going broke. Why should Israel’s national airline be in shambles? It’s time they hire real industry experts and turn the ship around already!

Bruce

Yup very sad. Just another reminder that capitalism and free markets works better for everyone, while socialism and today’s unions are working hard to destroy the free markets.

Pghtown

It is not a level playing field with other airlines. As I wrote, ElAl incurs additional costs. Many frum Jews only started flying ElAl after they stopped flying on Shabbat. How can we frum Jews expect ElAl to compete, dollar for dollar, with other airlines that fly 7 days a week? Many of your points Dan are right-on, but let’s also take a moment to recognize that ElAl is truly a miracle! Which of our grandparents, at a time prior to the founding of the State of Israel, could have imagined a fleet of airliners proudly flying the Magen David?? We should all support the Jewish airline as best as we can, blemishes and all.

Shafele

I have only bad experience with Elal. It’s time to let competition work at its best and let’s hope Elal with their nasty attitude will learn it’s lesson

Jason

@Pghtown,

It would be in interest for the Israeli Economy that TLV becomes better then Dubai Airport for transfers from Europe to Asia, look how the Arabs in Gulf are doing so good, Emirates, Qatar, Etihad.

Why shouldn’t ELAL be on Skytraxs top 10 airlines?!

Question

Who pays for the anti missile system on all Elal fights? Affiliate links?

Pghtown

@Jason
I could only imagine how much money the oil-rich countries of Qatar, Dubai etc pump into their airlines in subsidies so that their carriers get international acclaim. Again, it boils down to a level playing field, and ElAl is not on such a field.

Dan

@Pghtown:
“How can we frum Jews expect ElAl to compete, dollar for dollar, with other airlines that fly 7 days a week?”

Are you kidding me?
How does any frum business compete in the marketplace according to that logic? Why are they all not going out of business without being artificially protected by a government?

From a frum perspective the answer is that Gd pays us back multifold, but El Al isn’t doing it to be frum, they’re doing it because it’s a good business decision.

They make more money because they don’t fly on shabbos than if they did fly on shabbos and lost a large segment of the flying population in Israel.

It’s great that Israel has a national airline, but that’s not an excuse to run it as a welfare airline! There’s no reason it can’t compete, which is the point of my post.

@Jason:
To be fair, Israel doesnt have the sheiks that fly those airlines and demand such gilded first class cabins, but there’s no reason why they’re at the bottom.

@Question:
Actually the Israeli government but thanks for playing.

@Pghtown:
Actually they are not subsidized. They make money because they are run by smart people, have a good product, and they joined alliances that make them even more money.

Enough with excuses. The airline is an embarrassment to the Jewish state and is causing her harm in its present state.
The only reason the playing field isn’t level is because El Al is run by people who do not understand what it takes to run a good airline. Period.
It’s time to shake things up and these strike shenanigans are the perfect place to start.

Want to see more shenanigans? On El Al USA’s facebook page they write “Due to the strike at Ben Gurion Airport” today. There is no strike at the airport today as the other airlines are operating as normal. The only strike today was at El Al, Arkia, and Israir. It’s an embarrassment from the bottom up right now.

sound advice

@Pghtown: I once heard: Charity one does at home – business is business! You have to be competitive in order to drum up business!

shimmy

People you have to realize how

Dan dont you find it funny that Arkia is joint owned by elal,

yet they are still complaining about killing the free market…

hunch

From FT:

“The only thing that Eliezer Shkedi knows about aviation is the afterburner.
He may know the physics of flying a F16, but has no idea how to manage a company.”

Lol.

Todah!!!

Dan your the man!! are you a lawyer too?

jay

Don’t do business with family 🙂

dovid

my opinion is that elal is not doing any effort to upgrade their inferior in their aircraft flying there very old small crampt B737(no personal screens) all over Europe ,and they’re pretty old 747 and 767 to north America eaven there 777 is not that great , so what do u expect , the whole airline industry is all about competion u go down when u dont

sam

Well said. Well said. Well said.

Pghtown

@Dan
“How does any frum business compete in the marketplace according to that logic?”
Come on Dan! Closing one day of the week is a financial challenge to kosher restaurants in towns with smaller frum communities. Kosher restaurants have a hard time competing for non-frum business when they have to pay rent for 7 days but only operate 5 1/2 days per week. That increases their costs (not to mention the higher cost of kosher ingredients) and therefore their products are more expensive. The unfortunate reality is that non-frum Jews (and non-Jews) who don’t feel a need to support Jewish institutions take their business to less expensive restaurants, even if the products are comparable in quality. This may not be so evident in NYC with so many kosher consumers but it is a challenge in smaller communities where kosher restaurants could use the business from non-kosher consumers. So indeed other frum businesses have challenges in the marketplace Dan.

Further to my original point: Based on the comments in this posting from the readership, I wonder if readers would choose a European or American airline over ElAl, assuming the ticket charge was the same, solely because of the nicer seats and the more polite flight attendants. I hope not. Supporting my fellow Jews comforts my soul more than the physical discomfort from a seat that does not fully lie flat.

Moshe

As per the El Al website: All flights are departing on schedule. Best website of the year award.

http://www.elal.co.il/ELAL/English/HidePages/en_moked_flight_change_notice_300311.html

Yisroel

Thanks Dan!!! My thoughts precisely! Mileage program stinks. Customer service stinks. Surcharges stink. Website stinks. Last summer I had an issue with Elal and they would not even give me the time of day! I took my business elsewhere. I run classes and a tour and have thus far booked close to 100 flights in the past couple of months on United instead of Elal. And try to book a mileage ticket…you might be able to get for a year from now if you’re lucky. Time for Elal to fix up shop.

Anonymous

@Pghtown: Maybe u right they r jewish and don’t fly on shabbath nut THEY HATE A ORTHODOX JEW MORE THEM ANY OTHER AIRLINE I flew once with them and it was my first and last time after what they did to me THINK YOU FINALLY THERE DAY HAS COME TO…. .

Pghtown

@ Anonymous
Wow! Perhaps one day you will mochel them

Anonymous

It sounds like some of you have no idea about running a business (successful)

Anonymous

Well said !! The stink all around !

Yossi @ High Class

Hi Dan,

Very well said i have been telling that to elal sales people the past few years and they were all laughing in my face.
Fact is that as a travel agent i dont remember selling an elal business class ticket the last 3 years while i keep on selling Delta which is the best direct flight to israel in business and then united, but no one wants to hear about Elal anymore.

Chaptz Shnell

Elal is putrid. 1 & done for me.
This is why competition is healthy. Get your act together elal! You will be out of business soon if you keep on ignoring your core issues

Todah!!!

@ Yossi @ high class

Anything is better than Elal experience but Delta can also use some shaping up like their customer service

Eli

Dan! thanks your the man, we gotta take care of Elal!,
Btw. those this idea pf skipping the Last leg works in Israel or Europe, lets say i book a flight going to Vienna via Stop in LONDON, can i just go out in London with mu luggage and skip out leg to Vie?
or it only works in the Great USA?

Yocheved

El Al has the best security of any airline. Not only that, but I have found their customer service to be exemplary. When I missed my connection and got stuck overnight with no food at the Charles de Gaulle airport in France, the El Al officials put me on the next flight to Israel with no extra charge, and one of them even gave me her (Kof-K kosher) cookies from her own lunch.

On the issue of cost, El Al may not be able to compete with other airlines. But it is worth paying the extra price to support a Jewish airline that does not fly on Shabbos, carries kosher food, and always goes the extra mile when it comes to security.

Joe

Well said.

I, personally, don’t fly business or first class. I still want to be treated courteously. I did find the ElAl staff in NY to be courteous, pleasant and nice. But leaving Ben Gurion was bad.

Mark

Having flown to Israel about thirty times over the past six years, I can honestly state that no one’s service is as consistently bad as El Al’s which is why they haven’t seen me on a flight in four years! I never fly them anymore. They treat me like garbage and I’m a solid customer, considerate of fellow passengers, I daven in my seat, and don’t take up two overhead bins for my hats, daled minim, tallis etc.

Nevertheless, the stewardesses treat me like rotting refuse and act as if asking for a drink of water is something that’s placing undue burden upon them. Not to mention their awful website which has no peer in the industry in terms of awfulness.

I’ve had negative experiences on other airlines, but never on a consistent basis and have never felt degraded as I did when I used to fly El Al. Forget the sleeper seats – I’m usually a coach guy, I’m talking about a friggin cup of water!

Chaikel

Elal is a public company just like Verizon or Amazon. By “supporting” Elal, you are not supporting Jews, or the State of Israel. You are supporting shareholders. Choosing an airline based on their logo RIDICULOUS. Do you fly US Airways because their logo is an american flag?!
The only thing that Elal has to do with Israel is that their hub is TLV. The only thing they have to do with Frum Jews is that they made business decisions to accommodate them.
They offer travel agents higher commission than most airlines because they know that shady agents will push their clients to wherever they make more money even if it’s not in their best interest. Better security? Remind when the last time a DL, UA or US flight to or from TLV was hijacked. Keep on believing garbage that people are getting paid to spew, and you will continue over paying for a sub-par product.
As a Jew you owe nothing to a public company that just sucks money out of the Israeli government. Feeling patriotic? Then boycott Elal and force them to be an airline you can be proud of.

Sholom

Elal flys on shabbes under the name Sandor…

mosie

why didnt you mention how their fleet is so old, which makes traveling very unpleasent, especially when your packed into an old 747 (cattle car)!!

bal habus

AH… EICH OMRIM
WELL SAID.

yy

@Meir: @Yocheved: to # 57

if you want to be so generous andpay the extra price maybe we should start a fund for them instead and that way we can support a shomer shabbos??????!!!! airline without the attitude!!!!!!!! thinkbefore you write

Jacob

I don’t get the whole angry rant. I agree they are expensive, but their flights are frequent, convenient, direct and pleasant.

chaim

@Dan and Pghtown: Very spirited debate, good points, and I hear both of you (have you ever thought about going into reality TV? 🙂

Service:
I’ve enjoyed flying El Al all the times I have gone on them (and I love the clapping when we land :). In my experience, the attendants and gate agents are friendly. Israeli culture is different than America so you probably won’t find exactly what you’re used to. And that mindset also probably contributes to such a good security system as they’re not acting like you’re best friend. But I have found them to be courteous and were even helpful in having davening on the plane too.

Phone and website definitely could use some work from a consumer standpoint but would not be a deal breaker for me even if competition had better.

Food:
I am a common man: probably the best kosher food I’ve had on any airline. This is in contrast to a recent business class United flight I used with points. United’s seats were amazing but my breakfast consisted of turkey and mashed potatoes (really, for breakfast?:) and lunch was crackers, fruit cup, and cheap kedem wine which I got so sick from (and I can usually hold my own) I couldn’t enjoy my nice seats.

Security:
El Al has great security. I know plenty of people who are more than willing to pay an extra $50-300 to pay for extra security on their life. Some (me included) may feel that airport security is adequate which I don’t think is crazy. But I don’t think its crazy to want to take extra steps these days.

Price:
Jewishly speaking, there’s the Family rule: if you have a comparable product at a comparable price, no question that we need to support our Jewish brothers and sisters and their businesses as they are family. Even if its a little more, this would hold true cause come on your aunt is selling cookies and you’re not gonna buy even if its not the very cheapest in town? or that girl fundraising- you’ll buy the candy bar even though you weren’t planning on it. Once the product that you’re looking for is not the one being provided or its very overpriced I could hear shopping at a non jewish merchant; but it would need to be significant (for me $100+ but other budgets may vary). This price and product point differs based on the person and their perspective which I think is where Dan and Pghtown differ.

El Al is not known for being cheaply priced, but neither is every airline every day of the week. Its a business and no airline is looking to perform acts of goodness as their business plan. They want to make money but offering “sales” helps business. Us consumers reading this are looking for the cheapest price. Our desire is that whatever the price is, it should be lower. If everyone was selling flights to israel for $600 regular price, we would be looking for $300 deals! Whatever suggestions we have for El Al to improve their business is also motivated by our interest to save and the total flying experience not solely to help them increase their business.

Although, El Al isn’t always cheap, I wouldn’t call them tremendously over priced. In 2009 during Israeli elections, I booked a flight the day or so before my flight for $630 RT! Great trip! I’ve bought El Al tickets at $950 during the year. If you’re looking to save money on that international trip, its on you to be an informed traveler. If I need to travel and Delta/United is selling for $950 while El Al is $1050, I’d book El Al like Phtown. If El Al was $1200, I’d book united/delta like Dan.

Either way, we need to remember our brothers and sisters in Israel and treat them like family when price is not too different and know our selves and weigh whether getting a more comfy seat is worth not giving them the business even if they trying to make a buck and its not the rock bottom pricing we all crave for : )

ELI

@jack:
You forgot a few things that increases their costs
1. Security
2. Kosher
3. No flights on Shabbat and Yom Tov
4. Israeli Taxes (contributions to Eretz Israels infrastructure).

BTW I feel the biggest complaint is the FF issue.
Live and let live

Shmuel

In the hopes of them actually hearing this message, I posted a link to this on their FB page.

brandi

@jack: we get a lot of visitors from Israel nd they mostly fly elal no one has ever been late on their arrival can’t say that for the other airlines

bernard

El AL is the worst costumer service..and the most expensive airline!!
just for interest! can some one explain me why is that a ticket from new york to Hawaii is $600 during July and august and to Israel is $1400.00 (distends millage is the same)???????????????????????

Jay

I agree with you Dan! I can’t get to Israel because of this

rochel leah

indeed ELAL is by far the most secure and safe airline with regard to looking out for our security HOWEVER, as a parent with a child who is deadly allergic to all nuts and seeds ELAL is one of the LEAST SAFE airlines to fly with.I trust that i shall never fly with them again! This past year while flying with one of my children who is allergic to all forms of nuts and seeds, i phoned them to have them be aware of this issue. I was assured that although ELAL, like all airlines could not control what foods came onboard with fellow passengers, they would “see to it that the flight attendants would keep all nut snacks, sesame snacks away from my child and that the rows in front and in back of me would be free and clear as best as possible”. I was also told that although there would be no meal that was “nut free” they would order a childs meal that “usually” has no nuts or seeds. Let me cut to the chase,(i speak a fluent hebrew yet i may not seem that i do to the average person)when i informed the flight attendant of the nut situation she RUDELY informed me that “we have never heard of such a allergy”i then heard her tell her work-partner in hebrew” Those crazy americans will do anything to get special service” at that point i began speaking in hebrew and showed her the epi pen, drs notes and all. I also explained that if G-d forbid my child had an attack the plane would be forced to land! not only was she unfazed, so were the rest of the staff. The end point? the childs meal came complete with SESAME seed roll and all. Yes, flat seat beds in business do count BUT A CHILDS LIFE COUNTS MORE! unfortunately, there are more deaths from allergic reactions than from terrorist attacks . goodbye ELAL

sky121

@bernard: Tickets aren’t priced by distance. Ever. Sorry. While they may be overpriced that was a bad example.

David

EL AL ISRAEL AIRLINES RESPONDS TO OPEN SKIES POLICY

NEW YORK – April 22, 2013 – In view of the government’s decision to approve the Open Skies Policy with the European Union, which directly affects EL AL and the other Israeli airlines, it is important to provide some background information which has resulted in a strike called by the Histadrut (General Federation of Labor in Israel).

The approval of this agreement is placing Israeli aviation in unfair competition with European carriers and is weakening the ability to compete equally. Only when the government resolves these issues can EL AL and the other Israeli carriers compete fairly within the framework of the Open Skies Policy.

First and foremost, EL AL is not against the open skies agreement as we have been competing with other airlines for almost 65 years. By no means is EL AL a monopoly. Over the years, competition has grown tremendously so that today dozens of airlines take off and land in Israel at Ben Gurion International Airport. We are open to accept this additional competition as we strive to provide the best possible service and value for the loyalty of all our passengers.

Most carriers flying to Israel are part of a large international airline alliance. EL AL has been trying to become a member, but for obvious political reasons, has not been accepted. The fact that we are not able to join an alliance severely restricts our global operations and destinations served. An airline alliance can be compared to having one airline with thousands of aircraft, whereby all Israeli carriers (including EL AL) have a combined total of less than 50 aircraft.

In addition, the anti-trust laws in Israel are much stricter than in European countries, making it almost impossible for EL AL to maintain codeshare agreements with the same flexibility enjoyed by European carriers.

Another request is to have fair competition and reciprocity between Israel and other airlines in the European Union, which can presently land at Ben Gurion Airport with no restrictions. However, due to security limits imposed by the government of Israel, the destinations served by EL AL are limited. For example, EL AL no longer flies to Istanbul, Turkey, yet Turkish carriers operate over 50 flights a week to Israel.

Every year, EL AL absorbs close to $30 million relating to security expenses, which is in compliance with the requirements of the Israeli government. In other countries, security costs are covered by the government. No foreign carrier bears such an expense. EL AL is requesting that the Israeli government fund the full cost of security. An example is that in the USA, the TSA is a federal government agency which bears this financial responsibility.

We believe it is the responsibility of the government of Israel to resolve these obstacles before enforcing the Open Skies Policy.

Mike

Dan don’t apologize that was a very well said article!!
PS the strike is over

Anonymous

@Chaikel: Someone was not given a free upgarade on elel?

Gary

@Dan:

Well said! I have flown many times to Israel from NYC, Elal service attitude has gotten slightly better, but I’ll fly United or Delta anytime over Elal. United business/first was great on our 2 business class trips. The only one benefit to fly Elal has nothing to do with their service offering. It’s the fact that you only go through security once, whereas with Delta and United they check you twice before getting onto the plan.

ari

EL-AL is an israeli airline with an overdose of israeli mentality they are doing you a favor by letting you fly with them
its a rare privalege to be let on to their cattle cars oops i mean aircraft
when i called to be protected on another airlines flight out of israel after they cancelled my flight last night to newark they wouldnt do it or reimburse me for it saying its not their fault bla bla bla unbeleivable no apology no idea of customer service!!
but as a kohen theirs little choice but to be stuck with a socialist run country -airline

shlomo

The playing field isn’t level also because ElAl can NOT join any alliances which make Matmid the bad program that it is. I am sure they would love to be able to join theStar Alliance or SkyTeam.It would give their members lots of optionsand ElAl lots of opportunities as well. This is one of their main complaints of the Open sky policy just adopted.
I am NOT a El Al lover,but as an Israeli and a Jew, you have to believe that there is some politics involved as to why they are not part of an alliance.

kishke

I’ve flown El Al a few times. It’s been fine. I’ve never noticed any rudeness, and I look as frum as the next guy.

Shmuel2004

Haters gonna hate. Dan, I have never agreed with you more. You should branch into consulting!

Igor Ivanovich

@Pghtown: We, as religious Jews, know that if you keep Shabbos, you do not lose, you only gain.
I have had pleasant experiences with Elal but do remember that religious Jews get bad service and attitude, noticeably worse than other airlines. It can be attributed to the “family” closeness, unrelenting anti-haredi propaganda in the Israeli media, bad experiences with others, Israeli cultural differences etc.

As an aside, I was once in TLV (Nov 17 ’02) when an Elal plane was hijacked. Hashem watches over us, we can/should do hishtalus.

Shmuel2004

@Igor Ivanovich, Pghtown. Dan’s whole point is that Elal can compete – even with the missing day – if they got off their high horse and tried. Also, comparing elal to a frum restaurant is completely illogical, frum restaurant are by definition only open during the week or else they would not be kosher in most places. Besides the fact that the decision to not fly on shabbos is a business decision in and of itself. They made a tactical decision that flying on shabbos would cause a large group of customers, frum people, not to fly with them.

SS

@Dan: any thoughts on El Al’s inability to join an international airline alliance and its effect on their frequent flyer program?

Dan

@SS:
I think that has to do with them running a 2nd rate airline with a 2nd rate mileage program and little opportunity for hub transfers more than political reasons but I may be wrong there.

Anyway airlines like Virgin Atlantic survive without an alliance by creating several strategic partnerships. All El Al has is AA and they don’t even let you use their points for AA flights!

Moe

Dan, please dont be a looser! be a man – don’t censor what is not according to your taste!
Dan,
another disappointed reader here!
YES Elal are very expensive – that’s why we all try to fly different airlines
YES elal have much more expenses on security, to secure us, more than any other airlines
YES elal’s matmid program sucks – that’s why we credit them to AA

But why your frequent sickening urge to bash them whenever you could! they were good to get your site and forums world famous when one of your readers found the glitch and shared it with you, they brought you many readers and business since then, but since when has your site become a slander blog?
Dansdeals is a deals site, and also a jewish site, let all the many other travel bloggers do their job of bashing airlines especially our Jewish one.
Which other Airline let’s us literally set up a flying synagogue whenever and wherever we desire during a flight? which other airline does not say anything when flying with even 20lb overweight? which other airline does not care id their points are sold and bartered openly on Israeli auction sites? which other airlines would spend tens of thousands of dollars to compensate passengers in order not to be mechalel shabos?

My honest suggestion is, if it doesn’t work for you, than just move on, like I try to do in all aspects of life!

Keep your site to it’s reputation it always had, and thanks alot for your constant great deals!

Anonymous

@Dan: Dan a well written article.

Gabe

A few points to keep in mind;

The whole flight to Israel is 12 hours! Who cares how your backside is treated for 12 hours? I would not waste 120k miles ($2000+) just to be able to lie down for 5 hours! As long as I get there in one piece and treated nicely then who cares?

Yes its nice to have newer seats and TV’s on each seat, but again who cares. Bring an ipad with you.

Take you extra miles, sell them and buy a good mattress at home and go to a good few restaurants, or better yet give some to Tzedakah!

I flew to Israel on the elal price glitch, they treated me nicely, they also helped us get seats together being that they could not do it at the gate. They even helped some Ungarishe guys who did not want to sit next to a lady.

Elal does do alot for the passengers (seat arrangements, kohanim, bereaved family, meals, drinks..),I care about that more then I care about the fabric of my seat!

It seems that you are bothered that when in first class you are not treated like a king, you are only treated like a prince. Poor you!

Is it in elal’s interest to become better? Probably, but they still are a good airline. Most peoples complaints about elal are usually not elals fault and they are just fishing for extra miles or some compensation. I had an issue with elal (AA’s fault) and elal fixed it for me no problem.

-Eli

Dan

@Moe:
@Gabe:
I’m not even sure what a looser is, but I do believe the word you are looking for is loser.

At any rate you guys have once again completely missed my point.

El Al is dying. Its market value is miniscule because it is so saddles with debt and years of poor engagement.

I’m not here to bash them. The point of this article is to help them become a profitable airline that will be flying for years to come.

You might put up with a subpar airline, but most others are not.

I don’t care where you credit your flights to, again my point was that other airlines are making billions of dollars selling their credit card points. But El Al has so mismanaged Matmid that they do not realize that huge infusion of cash.

Additionally other airlines like United are far more friendly towards chareidim and davening on a plane than El Al is.

The Israeli government is now paying for 98% of El Al’s security charges, so that’s not an excuse. I actually think its a nice compromise.

The Israeli government finally has realized that not allowing competition to freely fly into TLV has gravely hurt the Israeli economy, which is far more important than a single Israeli company and they have now begun to remedy that. I applaud them standing up and implementing open skies even in the face of strikers.

It’s great that you guys fly El Al, but if El Al ignores constructive criticism then they won’t be around to fly you by the time the Israeli government imposed Open Skies is completed in 2019.

For the life of me I can’t understand why some people here are taking my constructive criticism the wrong way. People pay millions of dollars for consultants to come in and find what’s wrong with a company…it’s not called bashing, it’s called helping.

Somebody has to say it. I haven’t censored any posts here, I’m happy to express my opinions as well as debate this with you guys.

Gabe

@Dan:

Instead of “Can’t Compete? Strike!” as a title how about something like this next time:

“My thoughts/ideas for Elal to up its ante”

With the recent strike.. elal is able to do more to be more competitive and here are my ideas…

You wrote this article with what seems like so hate towards elal.

Seth

Booking a flight for the summer and wanted someone’s take on which airline I should choose: ElAl (I have a feeling few people would choose this 🙂 ), United, or Delta? Thanks!

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