El Al

An Opportunity To Try EL AL First Class (At Last)?

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I’ve written a post in the past with three reasons that I haven’t yet reviewed EL AL, and the two main ones are that their mileage redemption rates are high and their first & business class product looks pretty lousy.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a follow-up post about considering flying EL AL, talking about just how overpriced their first class awards are, despite the fact that their first class looks like a sub-par business class. For example, a one-way first class award from Tel Aviv to Los Angeles would cost 187,000 Membership Rewards points.

Well, the good news is that the post generated a lot of discussion, including some good ideas from readers about how to try EL AL first class without breaking the (mileage) bank. Charlie mentioned how a one-way first class ticket from Tel Aviv to London costs $1,500 or so. While that’s still not cheap, I’d rather do that then redeem so many points for a ticket, so that was my plan for flying EL AL first class.

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It Pains Me To Redeem Miles For EL AL First Class…

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As I wrote about yesterday, I just booked a trip for early next year that will have me flying EgyptAir, Royal Jordanian, and Royal Brunei. I’m excited to try three new business class products, and am also excited to visit Jordan and Brunei for the first time.

The entire trip planning process isn’t yet done, because as of now the trip has me ending in Dubai on Royal Brunei, and I’d like to get back to the U.S. I’m trying to decide between several return options, though one that people keep bringing up is EL AL.

I’ve written a post in the past with three reasons that I haven’t yet reviewed EL AL, and the two main ones are that their mileage redemption rates are high and their first & business class product looks pretty lousy.

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3 Reasons I Haven’t Reviewed EL AL… Yet

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As you guys know, my blog is largely centered around reviewing new airlines, and I’ve been trying as many new ones as possible, especially this year. While I get a lot of requests for trying new airlines, the airline I hear from readers about the most is EL AL. “Lucky, why haven’t you flown EL AL?” Hell, some people have come up with insane conspiracy theories as to why I haven’t flown with them.

Well, Israel is on my list of places to visit this year (I’ve never been), and I’d sort of like to fly EL AL in theory. What has been holding me back? I guess there are three main considerations:

Israel is known for having the tightest airport and airline security in the world, and it works. Part of my job is taking pictures like crazy about every aspect of the experience. That includes the airport, lounges, onboard, etc. I always make an effort to be the first person aboard, and by the time the plane takes off, I’ll usually have already taken 200 pictures (of course I do so as subtly and unobtrusively as possible).

Occasionally I get told not to take pictures, though usually I can reason with the crew, and/or continue taking them subtly with my phone.

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El Al Being Sued For Discrimination Over Seat Changes

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We’ve seen several stories of issues on flights to/from Israel involving male passengers refusing to sit next to female passengers. It presents an interesting question as to where you draw the line between respecting peoples’ religious beliefs while also avoiding blatant discrimination.

Well, it looks like there’s finally a test case for religion vs. gender in public Israeli spaces, after an 81 year old retired lawyer with a PhD in educational psychology took a flight from Newark to Tel Aviv last December.

What happened on the flight? Per The New York Times:

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El Al Plane Has Engine Failure, Flies Another Five Hours To Save Money

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In terms of stories which can’t help but make you scratch your head, an El Al flight from Tel Aviv to New York on Wednesday returned to Tel Aviv over an engine failure.

Engine failures happens every so often, and aren’t at all unusual or even noteworthy. What is unusual, however, is that the plane was already halfway through the flight when it had that engine failure, and made the decision to return to Tel Aviv, rather than diverting. Via Haaretz:

“The Boeing 747-400 airliner, carrying 340 passengers, took off at 11:30 A.M. from Ben Gurion International Airport. Shortly after reaching the Atlantic Ocean, the pilot turned off one of the plane’s four engines due to a technical malfunction. But instead of making an emergency landing, the pilot turned the airplane back.”

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The Most Epic Airline Safety Video You’ve Never Seen…

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It’s really interesting to see how much effort airlines are putting into safety videos nowadays. In many cases the videos are so entertaining that they go viral and people watch them from home, which says a lot.

Unarguably Air New Zealand does the best job, as they seem to have a new super-creative video every few months. For those of you that haven’t seen it, here’s their latest Hobbit themed safety video:

But I think Air New Zealand needs to move over, because EL AL’s low cost carrier, UP, might just have one-UPped them for the title of the most epic safety video ever:

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JetBlue & El Al Announce Codeshare

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Last week I wrote about the announcement that American and El Al will be discontinuing their partnership as of November 1, 2014. It wasn’t a huge partnership to begin with, so in a way I was surprised they discontinued it, since it was valuable to some AAdvantage members and seemed to have limited downside.

I’d speculate American decided to discontinue it, given their merger with US Airways, which flies nonstop between Philadelphia and Tel Aviv. Furthermore, there are rumors of American launching additional service to Tel Aviv soon, in which case it makes perfect sense that they wouldn’t want to provide more feed onto El Al flights without a joint venture.

It looks like El Al didn’t take very long to get over that relationship, as El Al and JetBlue have announced a codeshare agreement, less than a week later.

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American And El Al End Partnership November 1, 2014

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One of American’s smaller airline partnerships has been with El Al, the largest airline in Israel. Through this partnership you could earn and redeem AAdvantage miles for travel on El Al, and vice versa. I know this was a really useful partnership for some, especially since American never flew to Israel.

It wasn’t possible to redeem American AAdvantage miles for first class travel on El Al, though you could redeem for business or economy. El Al was never great about releasing award space — it was at times virtually impossible to find business class award space — though the partnership was still better than nothing. And for that matter, even their brand new business class product doesn’t look very good.

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