Review: EL AL First Class Lounge Tel Aviv Airport

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Review: EL AL First Class Lounge Tel Aviv Airport
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The morning of my flight to London I got a phone call from EL AL asking if I wanted a car to the airport. I didn’t realize this was something that was available on award tickets, though based on looking at the terms on EL AL’s website it appears like this is available to full fare passengers and those traveling on award tickets, which is pretty awesome. I asked to be picked up at 12:30PM. The person on the phone said that’s earlier than I needed to go, but I said I wanted to have extra time at the airport.

I had also noticed that morning that EL AL apparently has a spa in their lounge that you can pre-book, so I asked about availability. While the agent said he had no immediate slots available, he’d see what he could do.

Sure enough, a Mercedes arrived at 12:30PM sharp. The drive to the airport took just under 30 minutes, and there was a security check to even enter the airport premises.


EL AL first class chauffeur service

Upon arrival at the airport I was met by an EL AL employee, who escorted me towards check-in. Before you can even get to check-in you have to go through questioning. Rather than having separate security questioning at each check-in counter, there’s a centralized checkpoint where passengers of all airlines are questioned. Fortunately there’s a separate premium line, so I didn’t have to wait.

I had a fascinating experience and ended up having to go through secondary, which I wrote about in a separate post. EL AL’s first & business class check-in is located to the right of Terminal 3, and is partitioned off from the rest of the terminal.


EL AL first & business class check-in

While the check-in process was quick, what took a while was waiting for the security agent to show up to give me secondary screening.


EL AL first & business class check-in

Once he showed up I went through passport control (which was automated) and then through security, and then I was airside. An EL AL employee escorted me to the King David Lounge, which was quite a haul from the check-in area.


Ben Gurion Airport terminal

Terminal 3 at Ben Gurion Airport is quite nice.


Ben Gurion Airport terminal

EL AL’s King David Lounge is located in Concourse D, across from gate D1. It was about a 10 minute walk from security.


Ben Gurion Airport terminal


EL AL King David Lounge exterior


EL AL King David Lounge signage

Inside the entrance was a reception desk, with the business class lounge to the left and the first class lounge to the right.


EL AL King David Lounge reception

EL AL’s first class lounge was small but beautiful. It consisted of one main long room, with a bunch of seating options.


EL AL first class lounge Tel Aviv Airport


EL AL first class lounge Tel Aviv Airport

Towards the back of the main room were a couple of dining tables.


EL AL first class lounge Tel Aviv Airport

In the very back of the lounge was a separate room with some couches and massage chairs. While the door was open, presumably it could be closed if someone wanted privacy (then again, given that I had the lounge to myself, I think I had plenty of privacy).


EL AL first class lounge Ben Gurion Airport


EL AL first class lounge Ben Gurion Airport


EL AL first class lounge Ben Gurion Airport


EL AL first class lounge massage chair Ben Gurion Airport

Then along the side of the lounge were a couple of smaller rooms with TVs.


EL AL first class lounge Ben Gurion Airport


EL AL first class lounge Ben Gurion Airport

There were also a couple of small business centers.


EL AL first class lounge business center Ben Gurion Airport


EL AL first class lounge business center Ben Gurion Airport

There were several food & drink stations throughout the first class lounge. Near the entrance was a station with self serve liquor and wine.


EL AL first class lounge drinks Ben Gurion Airport

The wine selection consisted mostly of Israeli options, which I was happy about, as I had great experience with the wine in the country.


EL AL first class lounge wine Ben Gurion Airport

Then there was a selection of liquor, which wasn’t terribly inspiring.


EL AL first class lounge liquor Ben Gurion Airport

Near the liquor was a cute little drink cart.


EL AL first class lounge TLV

The entire lounge had windows overlooking the apron and the air traffic control tower.


EL AL first class lounge view TLV


EL AL first class lounge view TLV

Then there was a fridge with juice, soft drinks, water, beer, etc. I was happy to see that they had the choice of San Pellegrino and Perrier (San Pellegrino is my non-alcoholic drink of choice).


EL AL first class lounge drink selection Ben Gurion Airport

The main buffet was near the center of the lounge.


EL AL first class lounge buffet TLV

There were two display carts just outside the main buffet area, with hummus, guacamole, cheese, salmon, hardboiled eggs, etc.


EL AL first class lounge food selection TLV


EL AL first class lounge food selection TLV

Then the buffet itself had a glass display case with refrigerated items, including juice, desserts, salad, etc.


EL AL first class lounge buffet TLV


EL AL first class lounge food selection TLV


EL AL first class lounge food selection TLV

Then there were all kinds of pastries, muffins, bread, soup, a coffee machine, etc.


EL AL first class lounge food selection TLV


EL AL first class lounge soup TLV


EL AL first class lounge coffee machine TLV

The lounge had a couple of private bathrooms. While there was no shower in the first class lounge, the business class lounge has one in the spa area.


EL AL first class lounge bathroom TLV

For the first two hours I was in the lounge I was the only passenger. It sort of reminded me of when I flew the Etihad Residence, as I literally had the space to myself. There was a lovely attendant in the lounge who looked after me and constantly checked if I needed anything. I ordered a glass of the sauvignon blanc, and was offered nuts to go along with it.


EL AL first class lounge wine & nuts TLV


EL AL first class lounge wine TLV

She also asked if I wanted to have a meal. I’m not sure if there’s a separate menu, or something, but I was saving my appetite for onboard.

I spent some time in the lounge getting caught up on work, and at around 3:15PM was fetched and told that they were ready for me in the spa. I had asked about this on the phone earlier, so I was thrilled that they were able to confirm a treatment for me. The spa is located in the business class lounge on the second level, so it was just a short walk away.

For what it’s worth, the spa is open Sundays through Thursdays between 3:30PM and 10:30PM, and you can reserve a treatment by calling +972 (73) 216 0449. Reservations can be made between 8AM and 12PM daily on Sundays through Thursdays, so in the future I’d be sure to reserve a treatment in advance.


EL AL lounge spa

EL AL has proper treatment rooms in their spa, and I had an incredible 20 minute massage. This isn’t one of those massages where you sit in one of those uncomfortable chairs, but rather you take your shirt off, and they can use oil depending on your preferences.


EL AL lounge spa room

While at the spa I also had the chance to check out the shower rooms, which were nice.


EL AL lounge shower


EL AL lounge shower

Once back in the lounge they confirmed with me that I wanted to board last, which they said was the standard for first class passengers. I was happy they asked, since I asked if it would be possible to board first, in order to get some pictures. They said they’d see what they could do. Sure enough, 10 minutes later there was a golf cart waiting to take me to the plane, and I was the first person onboard, at around 4:20PM.

EL AL first class lounge bottom line

I came into my EL AL experience with low expectations, and I was pleasantly surprised from start to finish. No, EL AL’s first class lounge isn’t one of the top first class lounges in the world. However, it’s a solid lounge that affords a lot of privacy, has tasty snacks and attentive service, and getting a 20 minute massage was awesome as well. On top of that, the chauffeur service to the airport was a nice treat.

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Comments

  1. The phone number should be formatted (073) 216 0449. (073 is the network operator code, in this case for a generic Cellcom landline or VoIP service). Like many other countries, you drop the leading 0 when dialing in internationally, so for that it would be +972 (73) 216 0449

  2. Award tickets do NOT get chauffer service, only our “Top Platinum” members get it on First class award tickets. The terms clearly say this – “2. Platinum MatmidClub members (TP) utilizing bonus tickets in First Class”. TP = Top Platinum.
    – Adi from Elal

  3. @Adi Lucky could definitely have status with El Al you only need 5,000 points transferred from AMEX to El Al to obtain status

  4. I still cannot understand how this lounge is beautiful in 2017. The furniture looks a little bit worn and the overall design looks pretty much 2005.

  5. In correct no chauffeur for bonus tickets only if you are a TP memeber.

    This is from their Website.

    Arrival at Airport

    Limousine Service

    First Class service begins as you leave home. A chauffeur will pick you up personally at your home, office or other venue of your choice. Simply sit back in comfort and tranquility and let us transport you to the airport. We’ll also be waiting for you at your destination, after landing, and a chauffeur will drive you to your hotel or office in town.

    On your return flight we will provide you with transportation service to the airport and on your return, from the airport to your home or to any other destination of choice.

    Limousine service is easy to order, 24 hours a day through all travel agents or directly through the Shalom Service Lounge, at telephone: 03-9714080/2.

    The service is for passengers holding First Class tickets (Full Fare) and for Top Platinum Matmid Club members (TP) utilizing bonus tickets in First Class.
    The service is available from your home, your office or any other place of your choice, for direct transportation to/from the airport (with no stops along the way).
    Transportation service at overseas destinations is provided for up to 100 kilometers / 62 miles.
    The distance for transportation service from Newark Airport to Philadelphia and back has been extended to 161 kilometers / 100 miles.
    Passengers who were upgraded to First Class or who are flying on a First Class bonus ticket are not entitled to this service.
    The service is intended for customers who have purchased an EL AL flight ticket only.

  6. It’s a shame you didn’t order at least something from the a la carte hot menu…. if only to get a view of the menu offered. You could have nibbled on something half way and still had room for the inflight options.
    A missed opportunity since when do we get this lounge reviewed otherwise?

  7. The alcohol selection is dismal for a 1st class lounge. And the fridge held all of what looks like 4 Heine’s, no other beer choice available.
    The car service is a great perk, as well as what seems to be a ride to the plane.

  8. It’s a $10 bottle of wine. Usually you bitch about these type of things. But I noticed you are heavily inconsistent whether you value something or not based on your mood/happiness about a new place/extra service you get for being a known blogger.

  9. I absolutely agree with George – although they say that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, the impression that I get from those photos is of a far outdated, tired and uninspiring place. I can’t understand how anyone would want to use the adjective “beautiful” to describe such facilities – the scuffed wooden screen around the drinks station is certainly neglected and unloved.

    Lucky says that he was the only person in the lounge for two hours – I wouldn’t want to spend 15 minutes in that depressing-looking chamber ….. and certainly not by myself.

  10. @Jack I don’t think Lucky had status at the time, otherwise he would have pointed it out.

    Since Lucky redeemed Qantas points to score the Tel Aviv to London segment, how did he score the chauffeur service?

    Also, agree with some of the others, the lounge looks OK, but nothing special for a first class lounge.

  11. CS is generous in his $10 per bottle wine estimate, there is Sauvignon Blanc and there is Sauvignon Blanc this is definitely the latter. On special at $5.99 at your local bottle shop. It is surprising that El Al let their first class lounge fall into such disrepair it looks very 90’s, very little comfort.

  12. @grams so, bostonbali was correct in saying Lucky got lucky with the special treatment. Lucky is a famous blogger known to many in the travel industry. They definitely would do whatever to take care of the VIPs. With or without status, it seems that Adi works for El Al, so they knew Lucky would be onboard. They already preplanned to give him the special treatment from hotel pickup to the end of his flight upon arrival.

  13. @Jack
    Transferring 5K MR to El Al does not get you status. It only gets you access to reduced rate redemptions.

    The only way to get status via CC is by putting at least 40K shekel monthly spend on the Fly Card Premium for a year – then you get Platinum.

  14. “This isn’t one of those massages where you sit in one of those uncomfortable chairs, but rather you take your shirt off, and they can use oil depending on your preferences”

    Yes, photos, please…

    😉

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