Trip Notes: Flying Business Class On An El Al Dreamliner From JFK To Tel Aviv, My First El Al Flight!

254
DDMS IconNever Miss Another Deal - Follow DansDeals on Facebook

DansDeals will receive compensation if you are approved for a credit card via a link in this post. Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers, visit americanexpress.com to learn more.

I have flown to Israel as an adult on airlines like American, Continental, Delta, Lufthansa, Swiss, United, and USAirways and been on thousands of flights in my lifetime, but until this week I have never flown El Al.

Surprising? Not really. The reason is fairly simple. I have always used saver award miles for business class travel to Israel as my schedule is fairly flexible and El Al has always been more difficult and expensive to score a bargain mileage award with.

You can currently book some El Al flights in business class with Qantas points, but only on very limited flights for very limited seats. And you can’t transfer any US bank points over to El Al’s Matmid loyalty program.

I’m not alone in regard to that. Only 16% of DansDeals voters said that they prefer flying El Al business class to Israel. Given the mileage focus of this blog, it’s not surprising that many simply redeem the miles of the airlines that make it simple to do so or that they have elite status with.

Then again, in this sold out summer it’s hard to score saver award travel on any airline to any destination.

In full disclosure, it was made clear to me that El Al wanted me to fly their business class product and I have wanted to as well. Several respected DDF members had sung the praises of how El Al treats its business class passengers and it’s something I have wanted to see as well.

While I already had United saver business awards booked for this trip, I had the opportunity to finally try out El Al and took advantage of that. I purchased 6 El Al economy tickets using some 810,000 AMEX points for my family on my AMEX Business Platinum Card and will get 35% of those points back via a workaround that I was tipped off of by DDF member @yandmk for economy tickets on El Al, and El Al then upgraded our tickets for free to business class.

It’s actually rather simple. While you can’t get back 35% of your redeemed points for economy or premium economy tickets on international airlines, you do get it back for business and first class. El Al allows you to change your ticket into a voucher good for anyone to use, so I booked us 2 El Al business class tickets from Tel Aviv to Toronto, turned it into a voucher, and used that to purchase 6 economy tickets from NYC to Tel Aviv, which were upgraded.

Does all that make me biased or mean I had an unusual experience? That’s up for you to decide, but it doesn’t mean I can’t share everything that I thought about the flight and I always try to tell it as it is.

I originally booked award tickets from Cleveland to JFK on American using 18.5K AA miles, but I noticed the day before our flight that the price had dropped to 9.5K AA miles. As American has free mileage redeposits I cancelled those tickets and when I searched again, there were 6 tickets available for 7.5K miles, this time as a Saver award instead of web special pricing. As partners can book saver award space and I have a ton of Avios parking in my account, I hopped on over to BA.com and grabbed the tickets using 7.5K Avios.

As I figured though, American refused to interline our bags over to El Al. American is generally the worst about checking bags over to another airline on a separate ticket and in the past it’s been a fiasco and a half just getting them to check bags over to another American flight on a separate ticket.

Travel hack: Mimi printed up a whole sheet of stickers with our contact info on them that we now stick on the airline contact info tags and we put them inside and tagged on the outside of our bags. It’s an easy way to save lots of time at the airport.

Cleveland’s airport now has 3 lounges, we skipped The Club, which has access via Priority Pass, and went to Bar Symon, where you can get items like KIND chocolate peanut butter bars, fruit, chips, Fiji water, and more to go for free via Priority Pass. Then we headed over to the United Club, where I can still enter when flying other airlines thanks to my lifetime membership exemption at my home airport. That’s clutch as they have a great kids room for the family to relax before a flight.

And while we had to pick up our luggage in JFK, luckily there were plenty of free luggage carts at the passenger drop off island at terminal 8, so we used those to bring our bags on the AirTrain to terminal 4.

El Al provides business class passengers access to the Virgin Atlantic lounge in Terminal 4, though I had several other methods of accessing it as it’s part of the Plaza Premium lounge network. Capital One recently joined that network, so you can access it with your Capital One Venture X Card for free with 2 free guests or with your Capital One Venture or Capital One Spark Miles card twice per year. You can also access it for free with your AMEX Business Platinum Card or AMEX Consumer Platinum card with 2 free guests via the AMEX Global Lounge Collection.

 

The lounge itself is a little frayed at the edges, but it certainly does the trick on the whole.

 

You can order drinks from the bar via a QR code or at the bar itself:

 

And you can even have some kosher wine there:

 

There’s plenty of space to dine:

 

Kosher meals rotate by the night, they had hot salmon and couscous available at no charge:

 

Shower rooms are available if you want to freshen up:

 

My little one loved the color changing hallway to the restrooms:

 

As well as plane watching. Apparently, Avianca actually exists and isn’t just a mileage transfer conduit for dirt cheap short-haul awards on United when I need to fly to Chicago or NYC:

 

And even the most hardened El Al critics need to admire that Dreamliner livery:

 

For non-plane spotters, there’s even a pool table to pass the time, as well as cubbies for napping.

 

Our flight departed from gate A4, which was conveniently located right downstairs from the lounge.

Pre-boarding was for the handicapped, business class, premium class, and those with small children, which meant that all 282 passengers on the 787-9 got in line to pre-board at the exact same time.

The pre-boarding reminded me of what Golda Meir told Richard Nixon, “You are the president of 150 million Americans; I am the prime minister of six million prime ministers.”

 

I knew going into things that we were going to have issues with my 2 year old’s carseat as like American, El Al uses airbag seatbelts in business class. And while Delta and JetBlue allow carseats in airbag seats when also using a seatbelt extender, which disables the airbag, the El Al flight attendant said that they have no such exception on their flights. I’m not a big fan of airbag seatbelts in general and I do wish that El Al had opted for a business class seatbelt solution like United does with a shoulder strap belt for takeoff and landing. Then again, United is no walk in the park with carseats in business class either. Delta’s new suites product allows for carseats, but its walled-in configuration isn’t exactly ideal for traveling with an infant.

El Al’s hard product is very similar to United’s Polaris business class seats, which I personally love. It offers the flexibility to choose between solo seats at the windows, middle seats that are together, and middle seats that are split apart. That helps meet the needs of all types of passengers.

The odd rows have middle seats that are together, so we had 2 sets of these seats. Mimi sat with our 2 year old son in row 7 and I sat with our 4 year old daughter in row 5.

 

If strangers do happen to get these middle seats together, they can always use the divider for some privacy:

 

El Al provides a comfortable blanket, large pillow, and small pillow, though I wish they would also offer a mattress pad and PJs like United does. However unlike United, the flight attendants walked around asking if anyone would like an additional blanket or pillow, which was a nice touch.

Asking a United flight attendant for an extra pillow before takeoff can be like asking them for their firstborn child. And United makes you request a mattress pad as they don’t have enough for the whole business class cabin, and most of their flight attendants seem to despise being asked for things before departure.

It’s notable that while I have used my miles to fly business class on over half a dozen airlines to Israel, it’s hardly been an experience to write home about, as none of them compared to flying on airlines like ANA, Emirates, JAL, or Singapore Airlines where I’ve experienced some truly incredible in-flight service. I can be found grinning from ear to ear for the duration of the flight when flying in business or first class on those airlines.

On US airlines’ business class, the most senior flight attendants fly on the coveted long-haul routes, and they’re often long past the point of providing good service. On most flights, every interaction seems like it’s a chore, though there are some all too rare exceptions to that rule.

On the other hand at least in business class, El Al’s flight attendants proactively offered fantastic service and asked what they can offer to make for a great flight. It may not be on the level of the Asian carriers, but Israel doesn’t have a hospitality culture on par with those countries. El Al’s business class service was easily heads and shoulders above US and European carriers.

If you dare hit the flight attendant call button on a US airline, you had better be choking or else you’ll often get barked at. My 4 year old accidentally pushed the button on our El Al flight and the flight attendant brought her a glass of orange juice and a glass of seltzer for me.

The footwell space on our seats was pretty good, though bulkhead seats will have the largest footwell. Sometimes I find business class footwells to be too narrow to sleep, but I didn’t have that issue in our seats on this flight:

 

Before the flight, El Al provided complimentary WiFi codes for all business class passengers via SMS. It’s always mind boggling to me that US carriers charge their business class passengers full price for WiFi, so this was a very nice gesture. Speeds were very good throughout the flight, though service ends about half an hour before landing in Tel Aviv.

 

View from our seats:

 

 

Our 8 and 10 year olds had their own window seats, which as with United, alternate between facing the windows in odd rows, and being closer to the aisle in even rows. Grab the odd row if you’re flying solo.

 

 

Alternating seats in the middle section, with odd rows having seats together and even rows having seats with more privacy.

 

Upon boarding the flight, passengers are offered kosher champagne and chocolates, which is a nice touch.

 

The kids got El Al sticker sets, which they loved playing with and was just what the Doctor ordered.

 

Shortly after takeoff, more wines were offered. I really wish El Al had a printed wine menu, but in lieu of that, we’ll just have to sample a flight of wines:

 

While all meals on El Al are kosher, the ovens aren’t necessarily kosher, so I ordered the mehadrin kosher meal:

 

Now, when you get a Regal meal on most airlines, you’re expecting a frozen cold entrée that gets tossed right into the garbage where it belongs, but the food on this tray was actually fresh!

There was a perfectly good fresh salad, fresh fruit, and a surprisingly delicious potato salad wrapped in pastrami and corned beef. That’s already a win for airplane food!

 

The hot entrée was short ribs with polenta and peppers, and while it’s not winning any awards, it was perfectly adequate for airplane food.

 

The kids mehadrin kosher meals had thoughtful touches, like a bag of chips, a box of apple juice, and a white chocolate chip mousse that I may or may not have borrowed from my daughter when she fell asleep:

 

We slept perfectly well for many hours, but on one bathroom break I noted that there was a nice self service selection of kosher lotus bars, muffins, and nuts, and drinks in the galley.

Kovi enjoying having a bed to sleep in:

 

The flight attendants made the rounds throughout the flight asking what they could bring for people and offered space in the galley for prayers, though there is plenty of space to daven in your seat if you don’t want to disturb others:

 

Before landing there was breakfast, though I’d have liked to have had some cream cheese with the bagel:

 

But the shakshuka was surprisingly delicious:

 

And the kids loved the French Toast then came with their children’s mehadrin meals:

 

Stickers and French Toast beats tablet time:

 

 

 

Finishing up a long flight with some sibling love:

 

And before we knew it, we were landing in Israel:

 

Israel has a new system, where you need to get your tourist visa from a machine before clearing customs, though the machines didn’t work for us, so we had to wait in another line. But that just meant our luggage was ready to go and we were into the arrival hall not too long after landing. The longest wait was at Hertz, which is now only staffed in the sweltering parking garage, with just 1 employee helping a long line of renters, all paying far too much for their rental cars. On the plus side, we were upgraded from a Ssangyong Rodius to a Kia Carnival.

Kids waiting for me to rent the car, some 22 hours after leaving home.

 

Overall, I thought that El Al’s hard product (the actual seat/bed) is very competitive with any US carriers’ business class hard products. But the soft product, from the proactively friendly service to the kosher wine selection and from niceties from the complimentary WiFi to the freshness of the mehadrin food really made for a memorable experience.

Even in business class, friendly proactive service on US airlines is hard to come by, so seeing it being effortlessly provided to the entire cabin was rather surprising. That’s not something that I expected to find on a nonstop flight from the US to Israel.

And for the first time in a long time, I’m actually looking forward to my return flight from Israel to the US to see if the experience can be this good with another crew.

Sure, El Al has a long way to go in providing better call center support, a better website experience, and a competitive mileage program, among other issues. But if you’re just paying for the best overall business class experience to Israel, you’d be hard pressed to beat what El Al is offering onboard their flights.

Have you flown on El Al and on US airlines’ business class products to Israel? How does my experience compare to yours?

Leave a Reply

254 Comments On "Trip Notes: Flying Business Class On An El Al Dreamliner From JFK To Tel Aviv, My First El Al Flight!"

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

Josh

AA once refused to check our bags straight through between two separate AA reservations, and we almost missed our flight from IAD to LHR because of it.

Joe

Clear it up for us please.

Did elal upgrade you for free ?

Dan Is Richdf

Same, very misleading and appears dan has now become an ELAL shill. Kenny probably paid him off like all his advertisers do. What a shame. I flew them on economy 3 months ago and it was a disaster, over booking premium economy. Nasty flight attendants. It’s 2 different worlds when kenny pays you to write about his airline!

Levi

With this type of small-minded thinking, you’ll probably always fly in economy.

Jojo

I feel like they knew you were flying so they offered you first class service!

Kira

Wanna try El Al business class but seemingly they have very limited award space (for booking using QF miles)?

Hvaces42

Puff piece. ElAl is the worst. Sorry Dan. They knew you were coming and had you covered.

Ksdnyc

I’m one of those people who flies Elal to Israel because I like hearing Hebrew from the staff and because I feel safer ‍♀️. I haven’t been in a Dreamliner business seat yet, but I will in three weeks! Until now I was on the 747 and most of those planes had enormous spaces between seats. I’m not big on the enclosed legs, but what can I do? My kids will be in premium economy for this trip, as opposed to business class, so I’ll get to hear from them how that compares, lol. I flew AA business from jfk to london and it was ok, but I wasn’t overwhelmed so I’m hoping my Elal flight is better. We always love our Elal business class flight attendants.

Eliyahu

Interesting. Sounds like a good workaround to cash out Amex business platinum by purchasing business class El Al for the 35% rebate then exchanging for a fully transferable voucher and selling. Should net 1.5 per point minus however much the voucher is discounted. That’s a lot better than most other options.

Od

seling the voucher value?

Od

why were you upgraded to business class? free of charge?

high end hobo

Dan please note about the vouchers shtick, Elal told me its fine to cash out CSR and amex this way, but they asked to please only do flights not leaving from USA, so they don’t pay AMEX and chase unnecessary commissions. (The contract only pays Amex/chase commission if you book a flight starting in USA)

Chutznick

Happy you enjoyed but hey could be they put up a show because they know you are Dan?

Fellow flyer

I just came back from Israel on EL-AL 787 same like yours.

I echo everything you said on my flight from JFK to TLV, including the surprisingly decent food from Regal in Business Class.

However, on the return TLV-JFK, the Israeli sourced Mehadrin meals were literally inedible and went straight into the trash where it belongs (Chutzph they charge the airline for it!).

If you can order a Regal meal on the way home you will be much more happier.

Od

How does the El Al voucher work? you get the $ value? so 2 business tickets value were exactly the valune of 6 economy tickets or do you have left over voucher credit?

Yossi170

You don’t get 35% back points on economy for your selected airline?

Zali

I’m just surprised Dan successfully flew AA

Dave

Just flew ElAl business direct from LAX, a first in a very long time for us. This was a purchased ticket.

We have been flying a few times a year with United or Swiss or Austrian or Lufthansa.

ElAl was wonderful and we echo Dan’s comments and experiences.

It is nice to fly for points on the others but El Al was hamish and with better service. Yes, we felt special having Kosher wine and rather tasty Kosher meals. For the better part of 2 years we considered ourselves lucky to even get Kosher at all. 18-20 hour flights (all with stopovers) and a banana or apple gets old.

Most importantly, was a friendly and energetic crew who enjoyed their jobs on El Al. The other airlines not so much.

I understand that we may kvetch when with ‘family’. Many prior negative El Al reviews.

El Al has now earned our esteem. As long as it keeps prices competitive, I will fly them again!

On the price point issue, I looked at El Als premium economy seats. Dan did you get a chance to look at them? Dan, Any thoughts? We fly quite a bit and maybe it’s a reasonable option price wise?

Liz

Oh man, I’ve really been slumming it over at coach. One day…..

Ruchy

Did any staff or fellow passengers (prime ministers 🙂 ) reconize you? could it be you are profiled as VIP/test costumor?
(Never flew LY biz, MAD at their coach)

lover of truth

nice dan!!
how about going back to more trip reports
BTW i live in israel and am honored to share airspace with you

Joe

You can drink the wine? Aren’t they non mevushal?
Also can you do the same amex shtick with delta ecredits?

SW

Some are mevishal, but not Ll

JlmBoi

I’m happy you had a great experience in Elal J just like I have had. Btw they usually have a nicely done wine list.

Interesting what one commenter said about the ex TLV mehadrin meal. Def not my experience.

Charles ORD

New ownership is smart
They know what this post can do for them
Upgrades very well given
Looking forward to future trips with El Al

mark schwartz

Always bothered me that United doesn’t have kosher wine (aka the mini Herzog bottles) for my $5000 business seat. They got them for a few months in late 2019 and then stopped it for covid. Food is the only downside to United’s business product (though pricier) but the mileage benefits (35% Amex off), counts as a revenue buy (3 tickets and your 1k), status and the perks like three 70 pound bags for you, 2 for your coach passengers, upgrades points towards premium and business, unlimited upgrades to economy plus (bulkhead is priceless for your kids) and of course reliability still make United worth it. Id rather be told no extra blankets (though hasnt been an issue for me) than told sorry we are delayed ten hours. (also 1k revenue seats award 40,000 miles per ticket, i can fly for free to miami twice with that each time i pay for a seat to TLV)

hershle

I just flew United Business to Israel. They do offer Herzog Variations. Red and white mevushal

AE

You would rather the Kia Carnival than the Ssangyong Rodius? I drove one in Israel (a few years ago), and it was great. Comfortable, decent pickup, and a diesel that got 30+ MPG with 9 big passengers. It’s ugly, but who cares?

The only downside was that the turbo doesn’t work below sea level, so you literally have to stop and restart the car on the way back from the Dead Sea.

Ari

That is the OLD Ssangyong Rodius… in the past few years the Rodius is only a 7 seater. but the new Kia Carnival (Sedona) is definitely more luxuriant and better

Jacob

Agree same experience on El Al as you Dan.
But I would rather fly United accruing valuable mileage and status

Regarding Elal I think that’s the only good part.

From lowsy customer service to changes and a more user friendly website.

Yeshaya hazan

while I have no doubt that the hard product is definitely solid (no pun intended), my experience with israel in general is that expecting good service is nothing more than setting yourself up for a miserable time. This post does assuage my Elal-specific fears on that score. however, the amount of horror stories that have come out as a result of their appalling “customer service” is really what sets in stone my decision not to fly them. From my perspective, the risks involved are too significant to ignore. Air France with a stopover in Paris is by far my preferred way to do JFK-TLV. And I have no doubt that the service on Elal isn’t half as good as the service I get on AF

Business class

Doesn’t El Al own Borenstein catering? Why is El Al serving food from Regal? I had Regal food in business class with another airline it was terrible.

Jacob

FYI on Elal I always recommend the kids meal.
You’ll appreciate more of that then the regular mehadrin meal

Moish

Awesome Dan! Been waiting all week for this review! I flew them 2 years ago from Toronto and had a very pleasant experience. The crew was stellar and I was pleasantly surprised. Although at the same time I always thought that it might just be the Toronto crew and that from JFK it may very well not be the same. Glad to see that you also had a positive experience!

GoodYid

Can you allabroate more about getting bags checked on to 2 different reservations, is it even a possible thing?
And hows it while flying 2 different airlines, like united and BA

David

Regarding the 35% workaround. Did you rebook using the voucher on elal website? Would that be a good workaround for Chase limiting itineraries to 6 people? Book using points on 2 itineraries and cancel and rebook for 8 on elal?
Thanks

Danfan

I guess depending on which airline?

John

Give Dan and his family a free upgrade and you’ll get the longest review post up the next day!

Dov

My in flight experience was the same but reaching customer service was very hard.

DanR

Why can’t the rental car companies in Israel get their act together. No reason it should take forever to get a car, all the stuff they do in person can be done online.

Jack

Thank you! Nice to hear some refreshing news about Elal! Much appreciated!

Ultimately spending 10 -12 hours on a plane is not fun. Nice experience on board beats most other issues so in regard to loyalty and phone support vs. on board experience, if you can have a comfortable on board experience that is what is what matters most.

netlevy

How did you get upgraded to Business from eco? Bid?

Danfan

ElAl upgraded
“Traklin Dan” anyone?

Gubevo

Also flew elal business using qf miles on one of the first dreamliner flights with a one year old in tow. My experience was incredible – as good as united if not better. I’d fly them again in a heartbeat if it weren’t for availability

Yossi

Flew El Al NYC-TLV economy right before the pandemic. I had nothing to complain about, everything was fine, it left on time and on the way back they had my bags checked through to ORD on AA even though it was a separate ticket.

David

I booked a round trip business class ticket from EWR for July with Amex points. They cancelled the return flight and put me on a different inconvenient flight. Amex is trying to reach Elal unsuccessfully for weeks to change my flight. When I reach elal through WhatsApp they tell me I need to contact my “travel agent”. Amex obviously doesn’t use WhatsApp though… Ridiculous customer service… if anyone has any advise please respond

Jacob

Facebook messenger other option otherwise kind of doomed. Elal should be able to put you on another flight regardless

S

Sounds like someone told this crew Dan was on the flight.

This is not typical El Al service — even in business

Different Dan

I always say El Al is the best airline in the air and the worst on the ground!

Yochai

Ha.
Reminds me of an email I once sent United “the skies were friendly, the ground not as much…”

Ari

I wonder if the biz voucher would currently exchange for 6 coach tickets now that coach is $2000 rt over the next few weeks.. Dan – how much $ was the upgrade from coach to biz on the 6 tix?

Chaim

Dan, I hope you obviously realize the obvious. They serviced and treated you the way any establishment, hotel, airline, restaurant etc. would service and treat a rating representative.
There’s no one that knows El Al that thinks they treat every Joe Shmo the you were treated.
Actually I’m surprised they didn’t offer you free tickets…

Jacob

Then he would be biased to only say good!

Aileen Kirschenbaum

We have only had amazing experiences with ElAl business. Great food, great service. Fast check in. Seats are very comfortable.

JJ

Loving the comments here.

Half the comments say Dan you are biased they can’t be that good, it’s just because you are “Dan”.

The other half are saying, I agree 100%, flew them recently in Business Class and had the same experience.

Hmmmm…

Mendel

Maybe @JJ can test it out and tell us which comments are closer to the truth 🙂

JJ

LOL

Unless the stewardesses are helping to take care of my triplets I don’t see that happening anytime soon 😉

Y

As a parent of triplets, I must say this is the comment of the year!! 😉 😉

Cee

I did not fly Business class back in January. I flew Economy and it was wonderful. The plane was half empty. Stewardesses suggested to passengers sitting 3 in a row to spread out to empty seats. When I went to pick up a 3 AM sandwich snack, the stewardess immediately insisted on getting me mehadrin sandwiches and plyed me with all sorts of snacks. Flight crew was super friendly. I like flying El Al during off season. Empty planes make for a delightful trip and great customer service.

Joe

Been back and forth the past few days regarding our family Sukkot flights.
Just booked El Al!! Thanks Dan!!

AE

Am I the only one who finds it hilarious that El Al needed Dan to pay $6K out-of-pocket for economy seats (more if you value the points at $.02), but then gave him a $24K upgrade to business class for free? At least they didn’t insist on only a 1-class upgrade (i.e. make him buy premium economy first.)

Than you air

Seems very Israeli. They like being (and feeling) generous. But they don’t like when they sense entitlement. Yes but that did make me chuckle.

Sam

Which agency did you use for car rental the prices went up dramatically since I was there about 3 years ago

Joey

Flying my return flight from TLV in Aug with El AL in business using availability I found in qantas. My outbound is with AA though in business. After your post, I am actually looking forward to my return flight

Ari2

“I booked us 2 El Al business class tickets from Tel Aviv to Toronto, turned it into a voucher, and used that to purchase 6 economy tickets from NYC to Tel Aviv, which were upgraded” Complimentary upgrades? If complimentary, the last time we went ELAL, we were not given complimentary upgrades… so how did that work? For a fee? If for a fee, how much? While I understand the point of the post is to describe the ELAL experience and not focus on the money that went into making this all happen, we’re still interested in knowing the cash outlay – after all, Dan DID open that door by going into detail about how he got the tickets by Amex, 35% back.. etc…

Charles

So what did you end up doing about the car seats? Is there a way around this issue.. asking for a friend 😉

Canadian

Oy vey! El Al got Dan to sample a flight of wine and got him to release all his mistake fare sources!

Moshe

Elal is the best business

AmEx Hack

Did u wait till the 35% posted to switch for voucher?

Tavster

I’m really happy you got to try LY.
I’ve said for years that the soft product in J is great, and for me who eats regular kosher, that makes the whole food experience significantly more enjoyable than other airline.

In my experience, the only benefit you got for a being a ‘VIP’ is having the staff come over and over to ask if you need anything. But it’s still great for the rest of the J cabin.

BY

Nice TR but what good is it if we can’t book it with miles?
They must also somehow deal with their pilot union- they cannot continue like this operationally.
Also curious as to which wines were offered?

KG

I had a great business class experience with elal and flew with a baby in business class. This was several years back when you were able to use AA points for ElAL

Elikip

“On most flights, every interaction seems like it’s a chore”
Say that again.

Brandon Trump

I flew ELAL business 4 weeks ago and I had a great experience. I would only fly with them. I use chase sapphire reserve points to book and i dont even bother checking united or AA. Service was great even though my name was not Dan. The flight attendants are very friendly and treat everyone nice.

The food on the way back from Israel is garbage though. Make sure to fill yourself up in the king david lounge so you don’t have to eat on the plane. The food from the US to Israel is much better.

Flyer

“The food on the way back from Israel is garbage though”

I agree!! I just traveled TLV-JFK and after paying $9k for a Business Class seat I was very disappointed with the poor quality of the Israeli Mehadrin food served. A chutzpah the company even charged El Al for the meals, it is inedible garbage, the roll was rock hard and the chicken stringy and runny, yuck!!!

Rebecca

welcome to israel! wish I could duplicate your steps in getting upgraded, but is way beyond my skills. kol hakavod to you for being a wonderful role model.

Business class Cleveland

With this post Dan, El Al is going to start Cleveland non stop service!!!

CG

Add another vote to the chorus of people who have had excellent experiences with the Dreamliner business class. I still prefer Air Canada’s hard and soft product but for direct flights to the states, El Al is super competitive in business now.

David

Just flew El Al for shavuos. Economy. As you said great in flight experience. Crew was great and very accommodating to my son. Beware in Ben Gurion for the way back. Line was crazy and even business line was jammed.

Peretz

Dan, elal business in February, had pretty much the same experience (lounge was closed in jfk the gave us a voucher for duty free -my kids loved the Lego)
Did you try the soup? I thought it was awesome to have tomato soup on demand. My brothers slept 6-7 hours I didn’t I could have used a fan while I was laying flat I felt a little claustrophobic. Staff was great but when I asked what type of scotch they offer she responded “Glenn” 🙂 it was Glenfiddich 12 (would’ve preferred a non sherry single malt) on the return trip they actually ran out of it 🙁
I never flew business to Israel so I can’t compare to another airline but my brothers did and would fly them again. Look for the tephilas haderech with the elal logo on the wall in galley.

Elaine Rostker

just two comments, while my El AL flight was great, the lounge was nice, but I had to wait forever for service and not until I complained 2x did I finally get my order taken. But the best was the mile walk to the gate, I was told it would take 15 minutes, not being the fastest walker it took me over 20 minutes.

Ergel

One thing you didn’t experience but has happened to me multiple times, is there unreliability to keep to the schedule. They constantly delay flights for no reason or change the schedule. It makes it extremely difficult to plan

Steve

Unlike yours, my business class experience on Emirates has been negative. I will never fly them again after they (INTENTIONALLY) made me wait to last passeneger served, to get my kosher dinner (Dubai to JFK), and I had to ask repeatedly. Subsequent complaints to the airline were met with crickets. I know it was intentional as I was never even offered a beverage before takeoff after they discovered which passenger was getting the kosher meal.

Yoel1

What’s the total value of the upgrade you received from El Al?

Yossi

With the new owners of El-Al, do you think it’s a possibility that the regular food will be mehadrin one day?

Mark

As I’ve posted here previously, I recently took El Al after avoiding them for twelve years. I flew Premium Economy and was thrilled with the experience both ways. Tried to fly El Al again recently, but their price was more than 1k higher than United.
I don’t worry about their poor service b/c I use a travel agent and it’s not my problem. Those still exist and provide good value esp on intl flights.

Michael

My experience with elal business class seats on the Dreamliner was pretty good, but I do feel that they maximized in seats and as of that result the seat doesn’t give you enough space , for example when you open your screen it’s literally in your face and doesn’t tilt , that’s the only downside that I would say.
Service and wine is great, the cabin crew offered me to open a wine as it wasn’t Mevushal and I thought it was a nice gesture of them. Overall I would fly back on elal.

Ergel

I can’t believe they actually made you purchase a ticket and didn’t just comp the whole thing

Matt

We fly El Al routinely despite having to pay for it, and always fly business. We have caught some exceptional deals from time to time. We have only had good experiences. We have had nightmares on other airlines, with delays and missed flights. The check in experience for El Al in New York (JFK) is also a pleasure. I learned a few things from your post, notably the (Much wider) array of available lounges that i was unaware of.

LB

Just flew Elal economy roundtrip and was very pleasantly surprised! Flight attendants were super friendly and accommodating! And I ended up with an empty seat for my 10 month old baby even though both flights were full (on one leg they gave the other person in my row an empty premium economy seat, and on the other leg they allowed the other person in my row to sit on the reserved row on the back of the plane!). Far surpassed my experience with all other carriers in economy on the NY-TLV route!

Noach

I had perhaps my best buisness class flight to Israel from EWR-TLV 4 years ago on the 787!
Redeemed with Qantas! that was a great deal and a great flight! I regret not having used more qantas miles and having flown them more at the time. I perosnally would redeem amex via Matmid for an Elal biz flight despite the steep price as I have plenty of Amex points to spare.

CR

You can no longer transfer Amex to Matmid

united

I see you brought with you duffle bags. Gotta read reports in DDF, that they are a pain in the neck when checking in on your return flight to US (they make you shlep them accross the whole airport to a large bag drop off, with extra security screening and (sometimes long) lines).
Maybe business class check does not need to go through that hassle. Let us know…

united

Any update on this? Did they allow you to check in duffle bags at the business class checkin counter and leave the bags there, or did they make you shlep them across the terminal to the oversized bag drop off?

Seltzer

Glad you enjoyed! They went worst to first! Do you know if they’re currently making legitimate efforts to improve call centers, customer service , website, and FF program?

P.S. – you forgot to put the “this is a stickied sponsored post” banner on this article

Joe

I’m a top PL on elal, I’ve flown just in the last 8 weeks 5 times round trip in business, as well as literally 100’s of times … Dan is spot on in his review. The other week Elal cancelled my flight and sent me in United, I thought the pillow was better and more bathrooms on United… Elal having only 1 bathroom for business class is a problem.
But this is where it ends .. You can’t compare
Elal’s service to United it’s always great ( in business ) the food leaving Israel is 5 star quality ( mehadrin, I believe is the same as regular) try the eggs for breakfast it’s the best omelette you might ever have.

Chaim F

Those visa machines didn’t work for me either, join the club

zow

Dan, thanks for the write-up. Our family members’ experiences over a handful of flights over the past year LAX-TLV and TLV-LAX have all been excellent, mirroring yours. We have flown in Y, W, and J. Every time, the FAs have been kind, enthusiastic, and helpful. The KD Lounge is such a treat — you’ll love it! Call center and website are the biggest problems for El Al.

Best line of the trip notes: “… a white chocolate chip mousse that I may or may not have borrowed from my daughter when she fell asleep.”

Good Shabbos, Everyone.

aaron

i tried flying ELAL however they don’t have your own air vent above your seat like united does. I was hot the way to tlv. the temp is only controlled by the whole cabin.

Chaim Ber Finkelstein

Nice report.

It seems that they put in effort to upgrade their customer experience.

I wonder if they also did the same for economy. It is all about training and attitude.

Based on your report I would definitely consider them for my next Israel trip. Hopefully their MIA crew are trained well

Eli

Dan, I recently flew El Al Premium class to TLV. The seats are very comfortable. We had the 2 bulkhead seats, so we had a lot of additional leg room. The proximity to the bathroom was not a problem. The food was surprisingly good (I had the same entree that you had and I also thought that the potato salad wrapped in pastrami was delicious), and the service was excellent. Our flight was a mid-day flight, so I didn’t see a need to fly business lie flat. Our return flight, which was at night, we flew DeltaOne. We almost missed our return flight. We got to the airport 2:10 hours before our flight. It looked like the whole country was leaving. We waited on line an hour just to get to the
delta desk. The airport is completely understaffed.

Gemarakop

Just flew on united to pbi. The cancellations and delays were a pain in neck but your actually able to call and get someone on the phone. El al abruptly switches airports and time but it’s absolutely impossible to get hold of someone. Personally I’ll trade a friendly flight attendant for normal service.

Diamond Medallion

Flew this week, Delta One, TLV – LGA via Boston. Lie flat seats. Fresh kosher meals. Excellent attentive flight attendants. Only down side to the flight was delay in Boston.

Sd647

Do you still need to have covid health insurance to enter Israel

Yossi

@ Dan Elal has the worst customer service! Just wondering how do you contact them to make any changes to flights?

Chayahol

I flew ElAl business class on the Dreamliner last month from LAX. My experience was as Dan described – overall excellent – though my Mehadrin meals weren’t as good as the ones you described! I paid for that ticket since I was able to take advantage of ElAl’s rock bottom deals offered in 2021 and mileage tickets, as everyone has noted, are almost impossible to score. I paid around $3200 RT which is an insane price for LAX-TLV and it’s unlikely I will be able to fly them again any time soon in Business sunce the prices are currently almost triple what I paid. Of course now I’m spoiled – it will be hard to go back to using miles and going through Europe, which usually gets me into Tel Aviv in the middle of the night, which I hate, or Economy/Economy Plus on ElAl. The non-atop option makes such a huge difference from LA that sometimes it tips the scales towards the latter, though once you’ve turned left upon boarding that plane it is REALLY hard to turn right on the next trip, especially knowing just how great the ElAl Business Class is on that flight!

united

I was just looking to book from LAX to TLV in Feb, and I searched 2/7 – 2/14 on Qantas and found availability RT in biz for 119k points each way.
Qantas points are not that hard to get (Amex, Citi, Cap1)

Fly delta

Dont request anything from United FAs before departure-duh cuz they aren’t getting paid till you’re in the air. #flydelta

Tiger

Even when I flew United economy I was able to get a full bottle of water while people were still boarding.

@coffeebean

When I went they had a wine menu, I have a picture of it somewhere.

JR

Just booked my first El Al flight. Not business but excited nonetheless as we’re flying with toddler

Dov

Dan

This is just unreal… finally we found someone that elal is interested in pleasing. That’s great!!!

Now you can do a very big mitzvah and help out so much other jews.

Please make a round trip to isreal totally leshem mitzvah, but this time do it in economy and make a nice post about your experience.
I’m sure so many people will be you makir tov for this, and finally elal will know what they can fix for the simple people that can’t afford flying in business class.

Josh

Anyone who regularly flies TLV to JFK knows that the flight attendants on the US airlines (United, Delta and AA) are very hostile. It seems that they know that the clientele are not the easiest so they pre-empt by being extra nasty.

El Al is actually the best at handling frum passengers and they are very decent – even in economy – on most flights. I haven’t yet flown El Al Business but it rings true.

Jessica

Can we get some more posts about your Israel trip like restaurant suggestions or activities for the kids? I loved reading this trip report (like all your other trip reports) but I don’t think I’ll ever be flying business (to anywhere for that matter). Perhaps some restaurant or kids activity tips may be applicable for a good amount of your readership 🙂

hf

I have flown multiple flights on both ELAL and UA business class NYC to TLV. Yes, there are some nice extra touches that ELAL offers both from the perspective of a business flyer and a frum passenger BUT that does not come close to outweighing their non existent call center AND their dreadful groundstaff at TLV. Furthermore, their service from EWR is unreliable and liable to be cancelled without notice. I will pay a few shekels for wifi and give up on the kosher wine to have a guaranteed flight from the airport of my choice

Lounge

Doesn’t Elal have their own lounge at JFK?

big bad moish

Thanks Dan for a brilliant article.
My recent flight with El AL From Johannesburg to Tel Aviv in Business class was really fantastic.
With Departure at 11pm and arrival at 8:30 it was perfect for a good nights sleep and indeed I slept for 4 and a half hours uninterrupted.
I transferred 75k AMEX points to Qantas and for only £29.59! I had a one way ticket.
As far as the seat goes I found it very much lacking storage space compared to the BA suite and the Iberia business seat but perfectly comfortable indeed.
Also, the breakfast we were served was a delicious dish of cut up fruit which I really enjoyed but how on earth does that pass as breakfast?
I can easily say that they were my best spent points so far and I’d probably do it again (if Qatar isn’t an option).
Oh, I nearly forgot to mention, engine breaking after touchdown at Tel Aviv was so brutal that my whisk(e)y went flying

big bad moish

apologies.
*braking

JohnB

I have experienced DeltaOne numerous times and the stodgy old FA cliché really does not apply. So many Delta employees took early retirement in 2020, that the age demographics have changed. I know Dan will never fly Delta because of Sky pesos, but I suggest he try it. Because I hear more complaints over El Al than the other carriers he mentioned flying to Israel.

Sanity Please

Interesting & important info about kashrus on ElAl Business & First class.
https://www.kashrusawareness.com/post/dinner-is-up-in-the-air

YAN

Hi Dan. I am about to fly ElAl business class alone and I would like a single seat with a window and the table separating the seat from the aisle, as you recommend. From the seat maps I am seeing, and some other web sites, it seems like the even rows are the ones with more privacy, not the odd ones. Am I making a mistake here?

Zack

Depends which 787 variant you are flying. 787-8 you’ll want even rows. 787-9 you’ll want odd rows

BORUCH BRENNER

Dear Dan,
My wife and I have flown EL AL business class EWR to TLV (and back) several times – summers/fall of 2019, 2021 and 2022. We just got back on June 29 after 3 months in Jerusalem.

Each flight, in particular the return this year, was great. Impeccable service. The business class crew are A#1. We’ll probably fly EL AL business again next summer, even though the prices are about 50% higher.

Unless – I’m just curious – how do I get a free upgrade? We paid regular business class fare through our travel agent for our seats months in advance.

Max

Dan, Off topic you mentioned you had United business saver award booked. How come I NEVER see any business saver to tlv with United? Am I not searching right?

Andrew

Does anyone know what hashgacha El Al uses for the non-mehadrin meals from New York and London to Tel Aviv? Thanks!

wpDiscuz