Review: EL AL First Class 777 Tel Aviv To London

Introduction: An Amazing Week In Israel With My Parents
Review: The Adelaide Hotel Toronto (Former Trump Hotel, Future St. Regis)
Review: Porter Airlines Lounge At Toronto Billy Bishop Airport
Review: Porter Airlines Economy Toronto To Newark
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Review: Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem
Review: Sheraton Tel Aviv
My Incredible Week Visiting Israel
Review: EL AL First Class Lounge Tel Aviv Airport
Review: EL AL Business Class Lounge Tel Aviv Airport
Review: EL AL First Class 777 Tel Aviv To London
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EL AL 319
Tel Aviv (TLV) – London (LHR)
Monday, November 20
Depart: 5:15PM
Arrive: 8:50PM
Duration: 5hr35min
Aircraft: Boeing 777-200
Seat: 1A (First Class)

I boarded through door L2, where I was greeted by the inflight service manager. Since I was first onboard, I snapped some pictures of the business class cabin. While EL AL’s 787s features gorgeous new business class seats, the 777 is outdated. Business class consists of a total of 35 seats, spread across five rows in a 2-3-2 configuration.

There are three rows of seats behind first class and in front of door two.


EL AL business class cabin 777


EL AL business class cabin 777

Then behind door two are another two rows of business class.


EL AL 777 business class cabin

The business class seats are angled flat, so they’re definitely at least a decade past their prime. While EL AL is retiring their 747s, they plan on keeping their 777s, so hopefully they decide to install their new business class seats on this plane.


EL AL business class seats 777


EL AL business class seats 777

On the plus side, economy was in a rare nine abreast configuration, so it seems like in economy this is one of the better products out there.


EL AL economy cabin 777

After having a brief look at economy and business class I headed up to first class, which consists of a single row of six fully flat seats, in a 2-2-2 configuration. It goes without saying that this would be an outdated configuration for business class, let alone first class.


EL AL 777 first class cabin

I had assigned myself seat 1A, the window on the left side.


EL AL 777 first class seats

There was tons of legroom in first class, and I appreciated that they had a handlebar, so that you could climb over the person in the aisle seat if needed (it’s sad that this needs to be done in first class, but…).


EL AL 777 first class legroom

I also thought it was funny that the carpet had the EL AL first class logo stitched into it.


EL AL first class legroom

The bulkhead behind the cabin also had EL AL’s first class branding.


EL AL first class cabin

Seat controls were on the armrests between seats, and were easy to use.


EL AL first class seat controls

Behind that were the headphone jacks, and power outlet, including a 110v and USB outlet.


EL AL first class power outlets

The entertainment controls were underneath the center armrest, and were easy to use.


EL AL first class entertainment controls

The tray table could be folded out from the far armrest, and was one large tray.


EL AL first class tray table

To the side of the seat was a literature pocket. I appreciated that it was on the side rather than in front, since it means you had a place you could easily store things.


EL AL first class literature pocket

Waiting at my seat on boarding were a pillow and blanket.


EL AL first class pillow & blanket

Enough about the hard product. I knew going in that EL AL’s first class product is outdated. Arguably their new business class hard product is better than their old first class hard product. The good news is that the soft product exceeded my expectations by a long shot.

Moments after settling in, Shanti and Nofar came by to introduce themselves. They were both so lovely and bubbly — they had big smiles and were incredibly enthusiastic. At first I didn’t catch Nofar’s name, so she explained it as follows, which cracked me up — “if you need something on this flight, I am no far. That’s the best way to remember it.” Hah!

They came by to offer me what’s possibly the biggest selection of boarding “gifts” I’ve ever received. My expectation was that I wouldn’t get the full international first class experience on a relatively short daytime flight, but boy was I wrong.


EL AL first class amenities

I was offered Bose headphones, seemingly sponsored by Mercedes Benz.


EL AL first class Bose headphones

Then there was a Salvatore Ferragamo amenity kit with slippers, a toothbrush and toothpaste, earplugs, eyeshades, socks, and lip balm.


EL AL first class amenity kit

Then there was a separate Salvatore Ferragamo Tuscan Soul case with facial mist, shaving gel, and after shave.


EL AL first class Salvatore Ferragamo amenities

Then there was a lovely pair of pajamas.


EL AL first class pajamas

I was also offered an iPad. While the plane has built-in personal entertainment, I guess this is intended to supplement that selection.


EL AL first class iPad

I was also given a bottle of water.


EL AL first class bottled water

At that point the lovely Shanti and Nofar offered me a pre-departure drink. I asked for a glass of their viognier.


EL AL first class crew


EL AL first class wine

I was offered a can of candied nuts to go along with it.


EL AL first class wine & nuts


EL AL first class nuts

I was also given a fast track card for our arrival in London.


EL AL first class fast track card for London Heathrow

During boarding I saw four pilots board, which surprised me a bit for a five hour flight. I asked Shanti about this, and she explained that the crew actually does a same day turn for the London flight, so they work the redeye back to Tel Aviv. My goodness, that’s a long day for them!

Initially I thought I would be the only passenger in first class (the seatmap showed me as having the only assigned seat), though at 5PM two more people boarded — one guy sat in the center section, and one in the opposite window, so we each had a set of two seats to ourselves, which meant we had plenty of space to stretch out.

While a 2-2-2 layout isn’t ideal, it’s actually sort of comfy if the cabin is only 50% full, which I hear is pretty normal for EL AL.

At 5:05PM the boarding door closed, at which point the captain made his welcome aboard announcement, informing us of our flight time of 4hr55min, and anticipated nice conditions enroute. A couple of minutes later the inflight service manager, Shaid, came by to say hello and welcome the first class passengers onboard.

At 5:10PM we began our pushback and the safety video was screened, shortly after a Delta A330 pulled in at the gate next to us. Then at 5:20PM we began our taxi, and by 5:30PM we were cleared for takeoff on runway 26.


Delta A330 Ben Gurion Airport

Our climb out was smooth, and five minutes after takeoff the seatbelt sign was turned off.

After takeoff I changed into pajamas. The first class lavatory was located in front of the cabin and in the center, and was fairly spacious and well stocked.


EL AL first class lavatory


EL AL first class lavatory


EL AL first class lavatory amenities

By the time I was back at my seat the crew had turned on the mood lighting.


EL AL first class mood lighting

As we climbed out I removed my personal video monitor from between the seats.


EL AL first class entertainment selection

First I checked out the airshow.


Airshow enroute to London


Airshow enroute to London


Airshow enroute to London

I also browsed the selection of movies, which was solid. There were over 140 movies, which is more than I was expecting for what’s a fairly outdated system.


EL AL first class entertainment selection


EL AL first class entertainment selection


EL AL first class entertainment selection

About 15 minutes after takeoff, the crew passed through the cabin with rose champagne and chocolates.


EL AL first class champagne & chocolates

Then they distributed the menu and wine list for the flight.


EL AL first class menu & wine list

EL AL has a dine on demand concept in first class, so you can have what you want when you want.

The menu read as follows:

The wine list read as follows:

I figured I’d get started with the meal ASAP so that I’d have time to test out the bed. Service began with a warm towel.


EL AL first class warm towel

I decided to stick with the viognier to drink, and that was served with warm mixed nuts.


EL AL first class dinner service — wine and nuts

After that my table was set for the meal, including a big tablecloth and a personal breadbasket. There was also an Italian artichoke spread, as well as a plate of roasted garlic with olive oil and herbs.


EL AL first class dinner service — table setting


EL AL first class dinner service — Italian artichoke spread

To start I ordered the rich coconut soup scented with ginger and yellow curry. The soup was phenomenally flavorful and spicy.


EL AL first class dinner service — rich coconut soup scented with ginger and yellow curry

I was impressed by EL AL’s extensive salad selection, as you could choose between a country, Italian, or health salad. I told them to make me whatever their favorite one was. This was by far the best salad I’ve ever been served on a plane. Not only did it taste fresh, but it was huge.


EL AL first class dinner service — salad

For the main course I ordered the filet of salmon with beans, in Vietnamese style sauce. The main course was good, though not quite as exceptional as the other courses.


EL AL first class dinner service — filet of salmon in Vietnamese style sauce

After the main course I was so stuffed that I couldn’t eat the dessert, so instead I asked if it would be possible to sleep for a bit and then have dessert later. The crew gladly obliged, and made my bed. Service throughout the meal was flawless. The two other first class passengers didn’t eat at all, so I had two flight attendants to myself.

With about three hours remaining in our flight I got into bed. The bed was extremely comfortable — there was a great mattress pad and two big pillows, so it was quite cozy. My only frustration was with the lack of air vents, as I tend to get warm on planes.


EL AL first class bed

I fell asleep almost immediately, and woke up about an hour before landing, as the captain made his pre-arrival announcement, informing us we’d be landing at around 8:25PM.

Both of the dessert options — chocolate nougat cake with forest berries, and macarons — sounded delicious to me, so I asked Shanti and Nofar which they preferred. They explained that they also had an off menu dessert, which made the decision even more difficult. No one else in first class was eating, so they said “why don’t you try them all and let us know?” 

Oh man…


EL AL first class dinner service — dessert

The desserts were out-of-this-world good. The macarons were fresh and crisp.


EL AL first class dinner service — dessert

The chocolate nougat cake with forest berries was rich and beautifully layered.


EL AL first class dinner service — dessert

Then the off menu dessert was top notch as well.


EL AL first class dinner service — dessert

I did my best to only have a bite of each, though it may have been two… or three… or four… they were that good.

By the time I was finished with dessert we were just passing between Brussels and Amsterdam, with about 40 minutes left to London.


Airshow enroute to London

I realized I hadn’t yet looked at the iPad entertainment selection, so I checked that out. The selection was pretty good, though to be honest I thought the regular inflight entertainment selection was sufficient.


EL AL first class iPad entertainment


EL AL first class iPad entertainment


EL AL first class iPad entertainment


EL AL first class iPad entertainment


EL AL first class iPad entertainment

About 20 minutes before landing the crew prepared the cabin for arrival. The inflight service manager as well as both Shanti and Nofar said bye to the three passengers, and offered us mints.


EL AL first class pre-landing mint

At 8:10PM the captain announced that we’d be entering a holding pattern north of the airport for a few minutes due to congestion. Sure enough, that didn’t last for long.


Airshow approaching London

We had great views on approach, and landed at 8:35PM on runway 27R.


View approaching London

From there it was a short 10 minute taxi to our arrival gate.

EL AL first class bottom line

EL AL’s first class hard product is woefully outdated. Their new business class seat is better than their old first class seat. However, the good news is that EL AL’s first class soft product is so much better than I was expecting. The food was exceptional, the amenities were more impressive than I’ve received on any other sub-five hour international first class flight, and the two lovely flight attendants taking care of me couldn’t have been more charming.

I knew going in the seats weren’t going to be good, but everything else about the experience impressed me greatly.

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Comments

  1. Lucky – you should know that they offered sparkling Rosé, not Rosé Champagne, you who is such a fan of the best champagne’s 😉

  2. I hope they do this consistently.
    We all know that they were aware that you was a passenger, and even offered you a transfer to the airport on award ticket.
    But people will read this and have expectations for the flight.
    If they don’t delivery the same experience, people could get upset with your review.
    It’s just my thought

  3. Knowing they sent you a chauffeured car even though you weren’t eligible for it does make this review a bit suspect as well. I have to wonder if things like the off-menu cake are offered for everyone else as well?

    And while I’m glad you enjoyed the food, a bit of diversity in the menu would be an improvement, I think…then again, it isn’t exactly that long of a flight.

  4. look on the bright side. the review isn’t completely useless. at least they were able to give him two decent flights, which shows that when faced with a celebrity appearance, they can actually pull their shit together and provide better than their usual holocaust-inspired service

  5. alvin tse, there’s nothing “first class” about it. it looks worse than BA’s business class, and that’s saying something.

  6. Someone already mentioned that Shanti is probably Shani. “Shaid” is probably just Shai (unless the d at the end was simply a typo).

    I’m pretty surprised about the liquor selection. 12 year Chivas, 10 year single malt, and Gordon’s gin isn’t really top shelf…

  7. @schar sure EL AL serves the best desserts

    @Alvin Tse the soft product is definitely first class rated but the hard product is just premium economy in SQ or CX

    @lucky when are you going to do the new private suites in Emirates.. we will love to see those virtual windows… I bet it will be a more detailed report

  8. @schar sure EL AL serves the best desserts

    @Alvin Tse the soft product is definitely first class rated but the hard product is just premium economy in SQ or CX

    @lucky when are you going to do the report on the new private suites in Emirates.. we will love to see those virtual windows and the Mercedes Benz sort of a cabin .. I bet it will be a more detailed report

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