(Sorry no photos this time)
The airport seemed quite quiet this morning, despite Sunday usually being a busy day. Maybe it was because most children returned to school today and parents wanted to accompany them on their first day? Whatever, I sailed into the airport and through the initial suitcase security much faster than I had planned and soon found myself being whisked through checkin. One thing about EL AL is that they really go to town over First Class passengers, I guess because they only have First on their daily New York and London flights (and about two of their Paris flights a week). So when got near the First checkin my bags were off my trolley and being laballed even before I had even reached the checkin desk!
From checkin to the Duty Free and on to the King David Lounge (First Class section). I was the only passenger there, although I knew there were one or two other First Class passengers on the flight. I have already posted photos of the lounge in the past, and nothing much has changed. I enjoyed my usual 'healthy' dose of fresh vegetables, and then fruit with granola and yoghurt, accompanied by lashings of smoked salmon and a couple of large cappuccinos. I was fortunate to be early as it gave me time to read my usual newspapers on the (free) wireless internet - not knowing at the time that my aircraft was the only 777 in EL AL's fleet without wireless internet (Connexion by Boeing - very good, and sad that it is being terminated). As usual, the lounge staff were friendly and helpful, without being overbearing, despite really not having very much to do.
And so, onto the plane! EL AL's 777s have one row of First, row 2 (there is never a row 1 on EL AL's fleet). Seating is 2-2-2 - maybe not up to the very latest standards of sophistication, but fine for me, and with masses of legroom. IFE is not yet on demand, but rumour has it that this will be installed next year alnong with the new business and first class seats. I am happy with my own iPod, unless there is a particularly good film which interests me on offer. The service from the start was excellent. EL AL's First Class is pretty consistent here, and it is quite rare not to be served extremely well. Soon after takeoff (sorry, but I am no expert in runway numbers and the like) the crew began preparing our meal, which on this flight was (as usual, and thankfully) breakfast.
In the past, and especially in those dark youthful days of economy class travel (!) I always regarded breakfast on the plane as a bit of a raw deal. Moving upwards to business class got me something which could respectfully be called a good and fresh start to the day. However EL AL's new style First Class breakfast was about as good as any in a good class Israeli hotel, if not better. The initial tray was tastefully arranged with a cheese plate with fresh vegetables, a rather cute china 'bread basket', some smoked salmon and a bowl of fruit. The fresh breads on offer were just delicious, and if I were not planning on having more to eat I would have taken far more. Whilst I was moving through this, the flight attendant offered more fresh vegetables (there was a seemingly endless supply of this wonderful healthy stuff!) and a variety of soft cheeses and yoghurts. Then came the hot part. On offer was a sweet potato quiche or a freshly prepared omelette. I took both, knowing that the quiche was quite good and the omelette something not to miss. With all of our modern day health concerns we don't get these things much at home, and although pretty much a regular on the TLV-LHR route it is not every day that I go First! All manner of extras were offered with the omelette, and I chose fried onions, cheese and fresh herbs. I asked for the omelette to be made soft inside, repeated the request twice (Israelis seem to like their omelettes with the texture of rubber) and waited. It arrived pretty quickly, soft inside, and very good indeed. Having finished the hot part, I completed the meal with croissants, some more fresh bread with jam and the bowl of fruit with yoghurt and granola. All this was rounded off with fresh cappuccino.
With the food out of the way, I now spent the remaining time reading, dozing and working until our arrival in London. There was plenty more sliced fresh fruit on offer, which I was happy to accept, together with more cappuccino!
All in all, a very pleasant and relaxing flight. I return on Tuesday, and hope to have the time to write about that leg as well.