I have to admit that in spite of my user name, “EL-AL”, I was never an LY
’s service during the years was way below standard expected from national flag carrier, stories and jokes about LY
were common in Israel till the 90s. The change started between 1996-99, under Yoal Peldasho term as LY
’s CEO, he was the first to point out that the service is LY
’s week point, and among other things that he did was to reduce the seats number on LY
jets and to improve the airline’s food.
Still, the process takes time, and when I flew LY
(both Europe and transatlantic) between 1998-2001 the service could improve. My LY
flights on 2002-03 were already better, and except short hope to ZRH
in 2007 I didn’t fly LY
since 2003, so I had no idea what to expect for. Need to mention that the airline was privatized in 2004.
My family and I decided to make a trip to Italy, A wonderful country that we all like and willing to visit every time. Because we started at the north and finished in Rome, we landed in MXP
and departed back home from FCO
. Therefore, we had to choose LY
; we choose LY
not from patriotic reasons but due to more obvious reason - they were cheaper.
Nothing to tell here, we booked the flight months in advance using our travel agent.
We woke up at 5:15, and got to the airport at around 6:00. Security questioning was quick and last no more then 30 seconds. Even tough the check in area was busy, the waiting took us no more then 10 minutes. No many surprises here, since we booked our seats in advance. I got for myself seat 53A, which is a window seat, to the left side, not over the wing - just the way I like it. My mother asked if it’s possible to move to exit row seat, and she was told that this seat cost extra $39. We didn’t take it of course.
Check in area:
My plane from Shakim hall: 4X-EKC, my first flight on it.
Flight panel in TLV
(my flight is on the 4th row):
Hand bag check and passport control was faster then usuall, so we had extra duty free time which I used for some plane spotting.
EL AL B747-400 heading to Moscow:
No lounges pics this time, on morning flights I rather sleep few more minutes and to get to the airport 90 minutes before takeoff, while on afternoon-evening flights (like my last flight to Bulgaria) I usually come a bit early to look around. This time, after the walking around the gates, It was already boarding time.
Flights leaving D wing, mostly LY
We boarded from gate D2 at Terminal 3. Boarding process itself was calm and fast, even tough the flight was 100% full.
Airline: EL AL Israel Airlines.
Airplane: Boeing B737-800 4X-EKC Beit Shean (Built 1999)
Routing: Tel Aviv Ben Gurion Israel to Milan Malpensa Italy.
Date: Friday, September 25th 2009.
Gates: D2 (Terminal 3) -> B3
Runways: 12 -> 35L
Wheels off: 07:54
Touchdown: 11:29 (10:29 local)
Full stop: 11:38
Airborn time: 3 hours 35 minutes.
After boarding the first thing that I noticed was the generous legroom - I thought that the LY
standard was 32”, but it was at least 34”.
Prior to pushback water were served and the Chief FA
welcomed us on speaker. Pushback was right on time, and a safety video was on while we taxied to the runway.
After short Taxi we took off to the east from RWY 12, made 180 degrees turn to the right, and crossed the coast over Tel Aviv's southern suburbs (Reshon Lezion).
Taxi to runway, overview of Terminal 3:
After turning, heading to the sea:
Few minutes afterwards the Captain introduced himself and explaned us about the flight. Live masseges were in Hebrew and English, while recorded messages were in Hebrew, English and Italian.
Wonderfull visability today, we could see the coast line of Sinai:
Breakfast was served about 15 minutes after the seat belts sign was off. The choice was Omelet or Fruit salad with yogurt. I choose Omelet; the whole meal was very good, only the omelet was a bit to greasy for me (I made my omelets at home on Teflon with no oil at all, so maybe I’m not an example).
Water was served every 30 minutes more or less, and beverages with snakes were given about 15 minutes before descending. Can’t ask for more in less then 4 hours flight in Y class.
Swine flew mania? Alcoholic peds were given with the meal:
Couldn’t be better. I was overwhelmed by the huge change in LY
’s service, what used to be the airline’s weakest link. My young sister ordered children’s meal, which was very good (cereals and milk, chocolate milk, yellow cheese, cottage cheese, butter and jam) but had no omelet. Thus, my mother and sister shred one omelet. Not even 2 minutes afterwards, one FA
came with an extra omelet and told us “I see that you both are sharing one omelet, I thought you may want another one”. This, when the flight was 100% full and without even asking.
Another example: When coffee and tea were served after the meal, my mother asked for low fat milk instead of regular cream. The FA
brought us some milk from the back, and went on with the service. As she moved back to the galley she asked my mother “is the coffee allright”? And my mom replied yes, but a bit to strong. Maybe 3 minutes afterwards she showed up with a cup of cappuccino (I guess they have a machine in biz class) and gave it to my mother; FA
: “I already put ‘sweet and low’ inside, I saw that’s what you did with your coffee”. Again, when the plane was 100% full and without even asking.
After landing, my mother went to the chief FA
and told him the story and how happy she was with the flight. He was pleased to hear it of course, and wished us all nice vacation.
The plane had LCD
screens, and all passengers had headphones in the seat pocket (free of charge). First the movie Crazy night at the museum 2 with Ben Stiler was played (fun but pretty stupid, good for the children I assume) fallowed by Channel 2 news broadcast from last night (which many saw, there was a big speech of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu at the UN the day before) and afterwards an Israeli popular comedy with very funny episode (“Ramzor”).
Greek Island with nice shape:
Over southern Greece:
Cabin view from my seat:
Leg room - very good (I'm 1.86 m'):
Descending began at 10:54; we landed on RWY 35L, taxied to gate B3
in Terminal 1 and disembarked. Landing was OK
, not hard but not the smoothest I can remember.
Air breaks on during decending:
A bit of a cultural shook I think. In Israel, your passport is been checked carefully when entering or leaving the country, while after landing in MXP
I went to the policeman at the border control, who signed my passport without even looking, not passing it through any computer and while he talked non stop with his friend.
Heading to baggage claim:
Baggage claim hall:
Our luggage was out after about 5 minutes, and we went on for amazing vacation in Italy. Here are some pics:
Orta lake/Lago d'Orta:
Same place at night:
Como Lake/Lago di Como:
Same city at night:
San Giminano - Manhattan of the middle age:
Same city from one of it's towers:
12 days, 14 cities, 1600km and 10489 cups of excellent Italian coffee later it was time to return home.
We woke up at 6:15 and got ourselves a taxi ride from our rented Rome apartment (near Piazza Navona) to De Vinci airport at 40 euro (which is cheaper then the price we had to pay for public transport: 11 euro for train ride plus 1.2 euro for the bus X 4 persons = 50 euro) with nice young driver; on the way he asked if we are flying domestic or international, we told him and he dropped us at the International Terminal of Fiumichino, Terminal 3.
The International Terminal:
We walked around looking for our flight, on the flight board it was written “counter 523” with no other explanation. We looked for it, but the last check in counter on the terminal was 430. Then we walk to the entrance again to approach the information counter and only there we found out that our flight leaves from whole other Terminal – Terminal 5. We exit the Terminal, and managed to get into cramped completely full bus shuttle to Terminal 5.
After about 5 minutes ride we got there, I noticed that this Terminal serves only American and Israeli airlines: American, Continental, Delta, El Al, Northwest, United and US Airways (not Alitalia flights to the US and Israel). It is pretty small, and in this terminal you pass only security, check in and passport control, while jet boarding itself is been done at the usual international terminal (after a bus ride).
External part of the Termianl: (the police did not seems to care about me taking pictures)
After entering, we passed the regular questioning by El Al security personal, which lasted about 2 minutes. In the Israeli airlines flying to Israel and on Ben Gurion Airport, passengers are been questioned and only those who look suspicious pass extra security checks, on other places, as I will find our in few minutes, everyone is treated as a potential terrorist, including 5 year old girls.
Security area: (funny, everyone afraid to take airport pics in Israel, while in FCO
it was much more scary).
After security questioning of El Al, we went to check in area, but we could get even near it due to a long-long line of American checking in for US flights. It was foolish, since the Israelis did not need to stand at this line. I went back to one of the El Al security guys, asking what can we do. He told me that there is nothing he can do because the Italians are responsible to the Terminal. I went back to the line, and saw him talking to one airport employee, and few minutes later the El Al passengers were allowed to go to the LY
counters without waiting together with the Americans.
At the El Al check in itself there were no more then 20 people waiting. We waited for about 5 minutes, I got my usual seat (53A) and we checked our luggage, including our 32 kg suitcase (the total weight was OK
, so no extra charge here).
My flight check in waiting line:
Flight board (notice all are US/Israel flights):
The long check in lines for US flights:
After check in, we moved to the Italian security check. Very long line, took me about 12-15 minutes to pass it.
When my turn came, I was asked to take my shows off - it is the first time someone asking me to do so since I flew out of LAX
in 2002 (and I been to the US since). Well, if they want me to take off my stinky shows, which I practice and ran semi-marathon on – that’s their problem.
People waiting barefoot:
After the bag screen, a guy asked me to come with him to the table and to open my hand bag. While I did he put his gloves on - that was a scariest part. After putting all my stuff on the table and checking my passport again, he took out my deodorant, checked it from all over and even sprayed it in the air. He told me that I can’t take it to the plane, and he threw it to the garbage right away. Security risk for sure. In Tel Aviv this never happened to me (and I always fly with my deodorant). I flew with it from Bulgaria too, which is EU member.
Right after me, the same guy throw chocolate bar of American parents with 5 or 6 years old girl, the father attempts to convince him that this is the only thing that she will eat on the (long) flight did not help. Another security risk prevented for sure.
After this check, we went on to passport control, and like in MXP
, a policeman signed my passport without even looking or passing it threw any scanner or computer, in a major contradict the strict security check.
After passport control, all passengers entered a hall and got on a bus to the regular international terminal.
The bus to the regular terminal:
For the first time I managed to see some airliners:
Alitalia B777 with Air One A330 at the back:
At the Terminal - Cathay B744, Continental B764, US Airways A333 & Alitalia B763:
Neos B738 crossing our way:
Qatar A330, Alitalia B777 X 2 and United B777 under Cathay B744 wing:
A bus came in no time, and we got to Terminal C, to it’s section of gates C20 to C33 which serves usually long hole flights from the jets I saw there. Then I noticed that I only got 20 minutes till boarding, meaning that since I got to the airport till I got the my gate passed no les then one hour and 20 minutes!
Pretty ugly to be honest. Those tubes on the roof are ugly like hell, the air condition was too weak and it was very busy.
Cathay Pacific B744:
US Airways A330:
My ride for today: Brand new Boeing B737-800, 4X-EKH named Yarden, build only 6 months ago:
I took the train that connects our section to the rest of the terminal, but I had no time to look around since my boarding already started. From some reason, when moving on the train from one part of the terminal to the other you need to pass another security check. Have no Idea why, because all passengers were already checked.
The train station:
Inside the train:
Since our Boeing was on remote stand, we wanted to board as late as possible in order not to wait long time at the bus. We passed the gate, got down to the bus that was full. I thought that we would go to the plane within minutes, since the bus was full and we were almost the last persons boarding the plane.
Hell no: at 29c, on full bus with no air condition, we waited no less then 20 minutes (!!!) at the bus. Soaking wet, whenever a passenger or two entered the bus we hoped that they will be the last, but no. We just stood in the bus like idiots, waiting till the last passengers of the flight arrive. The bus was so full that my shows were half in the bus and half out of it. At one point a passenger shouted to the airport guy standing next to us something like “why don’t you bring another bus?” He turned around made himself as if he didn’t hear anything.
Absolute disgrace. Shame that after such a great vacation in which all Italians I met were warm and welcoming we left in such anger.
We finely got to the airplane at 10:10 (SDT: 10:05) I got some pics, then went to the rare stairs to the cabin.
The bus after disembarking:
New and clean tail, during boarding:
Here El Al service was at its best again: the FA
saw that we were all hot, and she told me “hot day, isn’t it?” And gave me and my sister 2 cups of water without we even asked. For the first time ever, it truly felt like “home away from home”.
Airline: EL AL Israel Airlines.
Airplane: Boeing B737-800 4X-EKH Yarden (Built 2009)
Routing: Rome De Vinci (Fiumicino) Italy to Tel Aviv Ben Gurion Israel.
Date: Wednesday, October 7th 2009.
Gates: C21 (Terminal 5) -> B5
Runways: 25 -> 30.
Wheels off: 10:35
Full stop: 13:37
Airborn time: 2 hours 57 minutes.
We got Israeli newspapers after boarding and went to our seats; the plane was 100% full this time too. This time of the year is the high season in Israel due to the Jewish holydays taking place, so most flights are full. Good for us tough, because in Italy and rest of the world it’s off season, therefore it’s easy to find hotel rooms, less tourists on sites etc.
The chief FA
introduced himself and the crew, and apologized for the delay saying that it was due to buses problem in the airport and passengers coming late to the Gate. As if we haven’t notice. We taxied to RWY 25 and took of to the west.
Terminal view after takeoff:
Airport after takeoff:
Food: Same like last flight. I run out of batteries on my camera so I didn’t take a pic of the meal, not it was pretty much the same like last time.
screens with free headphones in every seat, like last flight. First the movie Ice Age 3 was on (good to keep the kids busy I assume) fallowed by the Channel 2 news from last night followed by an episode of the Israeli version to “The cash cab”.
The day was clear with great views during the flight.
Napels (Napoli) area:
Militaly airfield over Greece:
Patras and Rion-Antirion bridge in western Greece:
Then come the big price - Athens:
The Island of Rhodes:
Cabin (100% full as you can see):
Old school boarding pass, haven't seen one since 2000!
Safety card and airline magazine (if any collectors are interested in the safety card please contact me):
Ad for El Al new route to Eilat:
Artice about LY
's new Eilat route:
Good enought for a.net?
Descending began at 13:10, the air breaks on:
Israeli beach line:
Tel Aviv Dov Hoz airport:
Northeast Tel Aviv and Raman Gan:
Ramat Gan, Kiryat Ono, Givat Shmuel and Petach Tikva (All suberbs of Tel Aviv):
Ramat Gan, Beni Brak and HWY 4:
Ben Gurion Runways, notice FedEx A300 taking off from RWY 26:
Wonderfull overview of the runways and Terminal 3:
Terminal 1, IAI and RWY 03-21
Turning to the west over the Jerusalem – Tel Aviv highway:
On the runway. It was the smoothest landing I remember, I could barely feel the gear touching the runway.
After landing - El Al B747-400 (ELC):
Biz class during disembarking:
Heading to the baggage claim.
This is it, I hope you guys enjoyed my second Trip report. Please take a look at my other Trip report: First Sun D'or Pax TR TLV-BOJ (new Link To Pics) (by EL-AL Sep 12 2009 in Trip Reports)
And as the El Al recorded massage said – shalom, and arrivederci!