This has been a long time coming!
United just announced that starting in early September they will fly 3 times weekly between Chciago and Tel Aviv. The exact launch date will depend on government approval and will be announced soon.
Chicago will be the 4th city with United service to Tel Aviv as United solidifies their dominant US airline position to Tel Aviv.
Ever since the Continental-United merger I’ve been saying that a Chicago-Tel Aviv route would make perfect sense. When I went to a United DO at their headquarters in Chicago’s Willis Tower in 2012 I met with Brian Znotins, who was then VP of United’s network strategy, but has now moved onto American. At the time United only flew from Newark to Tel Aviv and on DDF we had some lively discussions about a United flight from Chicago or San Francisco to Tel Aviv.
He told me that there was a lot of internal debate on that very topic as the revenue guys thought that there was 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.
In the end both San Francisco and Washington DC beat out Chicago and El Al announced their intention to fly nonstop between Chicago and Tel Aviv. However COVID-19 pushed off that March route launch and El Al’s bailout conditions will be make it very hard for them to fly the route.
Sensing opportunity and wasting no time, United will steal El Al’s thunder.
American recently announced that they would delay their Dallas-Tel Aviv route until September 2021, which is also good news for United’s new route as it will capture a lot of that traffic feed.
Between the AA and El Al pullbacks, the timing is perfect for United to enter the Chicago-Tel Aviv market.
United’s new flight will be operated by a 787-9 Dreamliner on Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays from Chicago to Tel Aviv, departing at 6:30pm and arriving at 1:45pm the next day.
It will return from Tel Aviv to Chicago on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays at 12:50am and arriving at 5:30am.
The 787-9 fleet is in the process of being outfitted with new Polaris business class seats and a Premium economy cabin, but the retrofit has been put on hold due to COVID-19. 7 of United’s 30 787-9s have Polaris seating with direct aisle access from every seat.
United also announced that they will go back up from 7 to 10 weekly flights between Newark and Tel Aviv starting in August and that they will resume 3 weekly flights between Washington DC and Tel Aviv in October. A return to 14 weekly flights between Newark and Tel Aviv is slated for October.
United resumes 3 weekly flights between San Francisco and Tel Aviv starting this Wednesday. A return to daily service is planned for September.
In total, United plans to operate 27 weekly flights from the US to Israel in October from Chicago, Newark, San Francisco, and Washington DC. That’s 3 more weekly flights than United flew to Tel Aviv before COVID-19, but we’ll have to see if that all comes to fruition.
Will you fly to Israel on United’s new Chicago-Tel Aviv route?