United Will Add Nonstop San Francisco-Tel Aviv Service!

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Update: United confirms the new SFO-TLV route and also announced nonstop service between San Francisco and Auckland, New Zealand.

SFO-TLV tickets will go on sale 10/10 for travel starting 03/30/16 and SFO-AKL tickets go on sale 10/17 for travel starting 07/01/16. The Auckland flights will start off 3x weekly and move to daily service on 10/28/16.


American announced in August that they would completely pull out of the Tel Aviv market on 01/05/16. Allegedly the flight had never been profitable, despite statements from USAirways’s president Scott Kirby calling the route among the most lucrative in their network.

Even more bizarrely, they announced they would not try the route from their JFK and Miami hubs which seem like more natural fits for Tel Aviv service, especially considering that Miami has no nonstop service to the holy land despite its huge Jewish population. After all, Delta successfully launched JFK-Tel Aviv service despite the Atlanta-Tel Aviv route not working out for them. However American said that they saw “no route to profitability for Tel Aviv service.” So much for the benefits of the being the world’s largest airline…

But American’s loss is their competition’s gain.

Delta announced last month that they would pick up much of the slack by bumping JFK-Tel Aviv nonstop service from 7 flights/week to 11 flights/week as of next May.

And now YNet (Hebrew) is reporting that United will be adding nonstop service from San Francisco-Tel Aviv with 3 flights/week effective 03/30/16 on their 787-900 Dreamliner.

YNet says that the SFO-TLV flight will depart at 8pm on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays and arrive at 8:10 pm the next day (14:10 flight duration). The TLV-SFO flight will depart at 12:55am on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays and arrive at 6am the same day (15:05 flight duration).

The 787-900 has 48 lie-flat business class seats, 88 economy plus seats with 35 inches of pitch, and 116 economy seats with 32 inches of pitch. (The 777-200 that operates from Newark has 50 lie-flat business class seats, 72 economy plus seats with 35 inches of pitch, and 145 economy seats with 31 inches of pitch.)

This effectively fulfills what Brian Znotins, United’s head of network, told me at the United DO in Chicago 3 years ago would happen when United picked up their 787-900 aircraft:

-The Newark-Tel Aviv route is an anomaly. While most international routes survive or die by their premium class passengers the TLV route is extremely successful in coach but less so in Business, where it is full of upgraders. While the route was once Continental’s most profitable the introduction of Delta service to Tel Aviv eroded the profits on the route. When Continental ordered 787s many years ago it was widely though that they would operated a 3rd daily Tel Aviv flight but now that route has been pushed down the list as there are bigger fish to fry. While it seems unlikely for the 787-800 to do a Tel Aviv run it’s possible we’ll see Tel Aviv flights with the coming of the 787-900 in 2014.

-While on most flights 1 business seat is more profitable than having 3 more economy seats Tel Aviv seems to be an exception and if they had a plane heavier in coach seats it could make more sense for Tel Aviv.

On DDF we’ve had some lively discussions about a 3rd United TLV flight from Chicago or S. Francisco. There’s actually a lot of internal debate on that very topic as the revenue guys think there’s going to be a lot of business class travel between San Francisco and Tel Aviv while the network planning guys think Chicago would make more logical sense as more traffic from across the country can feed into it. Of course a 3rd daily flight out of Newark can also make sense as that grabs traffic from NYC as well as the entire country.


I do find it interesting that San Francisco won the internal debate over Chicago, but premium traffic is king I suppose and Silicon Valley and tech traffic will supply it. The only question is will their be enough traffic from west coast connections to fill up the back of the bus.

I’m not surprised Newark didn’t get a 3rd flight due to the increased NYCcompetition from Delta.

I won’t be surprised to see Chicago pickup nonstop service from El Al or United in the future though.

In North America El Al flies nonstop from Boston, JFK, Los Angeles, Newark, and Toronto to Tel Aviv. Air Canada flies from Toronto, Delta flies from JFK, and United will fly from Newark and San Francisco to Tel Aviv.

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27 Comments On "United Will Add Nonstop San Francisco-Tel Aviv Service!"

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


How come sfo? Bec of its intl hub?

I would think lax would get the first or second nod after ord, see this happening soon?


1. United’s SFO hub is one of their larger hubs, LAX is on the of their smallest hubs.

2. There is no competition for SFO-TLV while El Al flies LAX-TLV.

3. SFO has much more premium traffic than LAX due to silicon valley.

I don’t see United adding LAX-TLV service anytime soon.


What kind of seats will be available?


My coworker suggests tech business connections btw the two cities. Great value opportunities here.


“the TLV route is extremely successful in coach but less so in Business, where it is full of upgraders”

I guess he knew whom he was talking to. Do you anticipate turning the SFO route onto the same thing?

Mikel T

Could be hoping for all those Israeli tech startups trips to Frisco brethren


I’ve added that to the post.

Without a doubt that’s what the route is banking on for premium traffic.

The question is whether they’ll be able to fill up coach given that connections will only make sense from the west coast.

@Reb Yid:
I think United knows the paid premium traffic on SFO-TLV will do well.

Will be interesting to watch though and see if they can operate the whole plane profitably.

mia flyer

miami left in the dark again ……


DL had 7 flights a week and UA had 14. They will now increase this to 11 and 17, repsectively.

…and AA was losing so much money that they had to cancel the route. Yeah – sure.


So how can I get to TLV from MIA for a flight for next year using AA miles? Thank you


bummer. we wanted ORD


Any idea when seats will open up?

When can we start booking?

Any idea when they’ll open it up?


Ynet and local Israeli agent claim October 10th


@Maury: walk/swim to Heathrow and take BA?


@Maury: Try Iberia. You may have to call AA to book it by phone. If you cannot book it online make sure to ask them to wave the telephone booking fee.


Perhaps theyre banking on it to become the next Bangalore Express, except this time for the tech center in Tel Aviv. http://www.bloomberg.com/bw/articles/2012-03-08/the-bangalore-express-a-networkers-paradise


Thank you and God bless you!


I’m excited for this route. Another choice for us LAX/BUR travelers. Short hop to SFO then off to TLV!


@mia flyer:
MIA was AAs for the taking.


Yup, great news for west coast folk.
And good for east coast folk, more availability for them now.


@Dan: Now we need to see what’s the deal with award seats!! 🙂


I personally attended a few Israeli meetups where executives and founders from Google, Waze, Apple, Houzz and many others begged for this service. We have a Facebook group called Direct Flights TLV-SFO leaded by one of the leading investors in SV.

I know they run a campaign and signed a few thousand people, run a market research, estimated how many tickets airlines would be able to sell, met with United/Delta/El Al executives and pushed for this route.


So, it will take United a year or two to figure out that when 8000 Israelis sign a petition saying that they will each buy 10 tickets a year for their families, the total comes to 10000 tickets and not the 80000 that our first grade math teacher taught us.
I want Oren’s Hummus to open a place down the road from me. I am tired of driving 20 minutes every time I want to have hummus. I promise to come 6 times a year and I know 100 people who will each come 5 times a year. And we will all sign up for the free loyalty card. Make the math, it will be profitable (and if not, I am not the one who will lose). When is Oren opening in my street?


Not sure where to post this, but I know you don’t like United’s new award search (I don’t find it too terrible, but I am also used to the old look and feel).

So, anyone wanting the old look and feel for award search can get it by clearing the United.com cookies from their browser (I did’t yet check which specific cookie it is, but definitely clearing all of the United.com cookies works) and then got to https://www.united.com/web/en-US/apps/booking/flight/searchAward.aspx

You will get the good old look and feel interface for award search (and for that matter I believe the entire website).

Barry Yarkoni

My wife flew this route to TLV in March (from LA). I flew in April and returned right after Pesach. All the flights were full. A crew member told me they were going to increase to daily service with their next Dreamliner delivery. San Francisco beats any other connection point hands down. No lines. No hassle. International terminal is right next to United terminal. They do not charge extra for the LA hop. And the 787-900 is really terriffic. The higher air pressure and humidity really make a difference.