Israel: Part 1 – The Plane

Onboard El Al's 747
Onboard El Al’s 747

So rarely do I remember what occurred on a trip. Thought I would write it out quickly. This first part deals with air travel. Let’s see if I can cover the whole trip.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

El Al Flight 008, departing 11:30PM, arriving next day at 4:55PM.

Get a message that LY008 is delayed by one hour. Ends up being 1.5 hours late. Considering how long before the crew shows up, my guess is after the delay, the crew transport was delayed.

I was last on El Al in 1999, on a charter flight from JFK to Krakow, then Warsaw to Tel Aviv, and finally Tel Aviv back to New York. It was the same plane, a 747. There have been some minor changes. They have individual screens…although it is not on demand. I didn’t watch a single second of it.

I didn’t spring for Economy Plus…because it is incredibly hard to do so. The logic of an airline requiring you to apply for the privilege of getting a better seat, as opposed to just selecting one of their website is beyond me. I tried to call and had a less than satisfactory conversation. I was offered a chance to bid on having an empty seat next to me…but fortunately, I got that for free.

Sunday, June 14th, 2015

El Al Flight 001, departing 12:45AM, arriving 5:50AM the same day.

You’ve got to love Israeli security, or maybe you don’t. Before we even got to their airport, there was a checkpoint of armed soldiers checking cars. Then a guy outside the terminal who was watching, and could stop you and inspect you there.

We checked in at a kiosk. Actually the first time I’ve tagged my own bags at a kiosk. That isn’t very common in the U.S. I noticed that despite the fact people got the tags, they didn’t apply them till they got to the counter.

Then there is the Israeli security check, where they ask you questions and put other tags on your bags before you are allowed to proceed to the counter.

After the counter, you get to go through a more traditional security line, where they don’t care about liquids, they don’t ask you to take off your shoes…and this is the highest rated airport security in the world.

Then, you get your exit visa(I got mine from another machine), and head toward the gate.

The Service

The food on El Al was reasonably decent. Each direction served a dinner and a breakfast. There was one single drink service on a 10-11 hour flight, and coffee and tea service with breakfast. Unlike the last time I was on, you could go to the galley if you wanted more to drink. I took a page from the guy next to me and got my own water bottle out of my bag and had them fill it for me so I wouldn’t have to bother them so regularly.

Objectively speaking, the service is good, but the product is somewhat dated compared to many airlines. Delta, having a flight that left around the same time, beat us to and from Tel Aviv. From the employees, it wasn’t the disinterest I remember from last time.

They were all friendly and helpful…except when they refused to speak to the man in front of me on the way out about the fact he reclined his seat before takeoff and left it reclined, even when I was trying to eat. I remember a different airline actually made an announcement asking people to sit up for the meal period so people could eat.

Stay tuned for Part 2: Tel Aviv.

David Shanske

This is a test bio. Imagine I am saying something profound and succinct here.

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