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From my Archives: Summer '14 Returning from Israel One of the Only Ways Available El Al

Mon Jul 23, 2018 10:15 pm

From My Archives Project
Working as an EMT this summer I have a lot of down time in between calls. Because of that, I have decided to turn some of my old notes on past trips into trip reports. These reports will mainly focus around trips where things went wrong, or airlines where there are not a lot of reports on them. Because of how long ago these trips were, I would like to apologize if these are slightly less detailed than my other trip reports. I would also like to apologize if the photos are not of a high quality/the normal orientation for airliners.net, mainly because they were not originally meant to be posted. As always, feedback is appreciated

Background
As a kid I attended a Jewish overnight camp. For campers entering the 11th grade, they would send them on a trip to Poland and Israel. Originally to return from Israel we were booked to depart on July 31st at 5:00 on LH 691, connecting in FRA to LH 422. A couple days after we arrived in Israel, the Palestinian missile crisis began and the situation continued to deteriorate throughout the trip. On July 22nd the decision was made that our flights would be changed to depart on July 25th, on LH 691 at 4:45 and then after a 9 hour layover connect to LH 420 to return to Boston. Shortly after this decision was made, a missile struck near TLV, leading most North American and European airlines (excluding BA) to suspend and cancel all their flights. At this point, the tour company was able to rebook us onto LY going into EWR, leaving at 00:30 on July 30th, only 1 day before our original departure. I was actually excited by this because it would give me an opportunity to try out LY, my first flight on the B777, and my first ultra long haul flight.

LY 27

At the Airport
After a wonderful end of trip dinner, and a tearful goodbye to our driver and security guard/medic, we proceeded to begin the check in process. At TLV you have to undergo a security interview before you can check in. Because we were a youth group, our counselors and tour guides underwent most of the interview for us. Once they were finished, we approached the interviewers in groups of 3 where they asked us a few more questions (including do you have any sharps in your checked bags?). After these questions they placed a bright yellow security level 3 barcode on our passports and bags and we were allowed to approach the check in desks. After a short wait I was waived to approach one of the desks, where I was greeted by a trainee with 2 trainers, one standing on either side of him. Initially, he struggled with swiping my passport. After that, he almost checked my bags into one of the JFK flights instead of my flight to EWR. Finally, he issued my boarding pass with my requested window seat. As an example of how long this process took, I was one of the first people to start to check in for the flight from my group, but I was one of the last people from the group to finish. While chatting with my friends to see where we were assigned (people were assigned randomly throughout the cabin, with some even getting upgraded to the bulk head/extra legroom seats) I found out that I had been assigned to share a seat with one of my friends for the 12 hour flight to EWR.
After everyone was done checking in, we proceeded to quickly pass through the painless security checkpoint at TLV. After a short wait in line we received our Israeli exit cards. Once through the group proceeded to the gate. Once at the gate, members of the group split off to do some last minute shopping. My friend and I went to try to find a customer service desk or a kiosk to try to sort out our shared seat issue. Unfortunately, we were unable to find a desk, and ended up having to run to another concourse where the flight to BKK was boarding. After grumbling about how we should have just waited to get it sorted out once our gate was staffed, the agent sorted out our seats and we returned to the gate. I tried to do some plane spotting but none of the photos came out very well.

Image An image of my LY B772 to EWR, courtesy of Jens Breuer.

Boarding was called roughly an hour before departure. As part of the boarding process we had to go through a security screening where an agent visually inspected our bags to make sure our liquids were in compliance with TSA regulations. While I was expecting this so I didn't fill my water or buy any liquids most of my friends were not expecting this and had not listened to me, so they had large amounts of expensive beverages confiscated.

Onboard
Once onboard I proceeded to my seat. The seat was neither comfortable nor uncomfortable, and the leg room wasn't necessarily spacious or tight. Once settled in, I proceeded to try to plane spot, but my camera did not take a lot of good photos (it does not handle night that well).

Image The seat

Roughly on time, we proceeded to push back and execute a smooth take off from TLV. Once over 10,000 feet I began to explore the IFE options. This plane had the oldest IFE system that I have ever experienced- it consisted of a few channels of movies on a continuous loop throughout the flight. Additionally, it had some music options on loop, but again, it was not that great, so I turned to my kindle and phone for entertainment.

After reaching cruising altitude the flight attendants began a beverage service. I got a water, and the flight attendants also passed out some nice LY branded crackers.

Image The cracker bag

Image The crackers

After a short wait, the flight attendants came through the cabin with the dinner service. I selected the chicken option.

Image The Dinner

Image The main course

The meal started off with a fresh Israeli style salad (carrots and cucumber) with a creamy dressing. The main course consisted of four balls of breaded chicken, with a tomato sauce, couscous, and vegetables. I normally don't like tomato sauces, but this one was a thicker one with minimal seasonings, which I found to be quite good. The chicken was moist, and the couscous paired really well with the chicken and the sauce. While the pita bread was not the greatest that I have had, it was very unique. The carrot cake was nice, with lots of flavor of cinnamon and honey.

Somewhere over Italy, the flight attendants finished distributing tea and coffee and had collected the trays from the dinner service. After distributing melatonin to many of my friends on the trip (and annoying my seatmates in the process), I took one, leaned back my chair and proceeded to rest for 2.5-3 hours.

Once awake, I went to use the bathroom and entered into a line. Once I got to the front of the line, the captain engaged the seatbelt sign and one of the flight attendants did a dance about having to go back to our seats. Besides this dance, the service was generally robotic. Once back at my seat, one of my seatmates began to ask me about why I was travelling and who I was with, leading me to believe that I was sitting next to one of the LY onboard security marshals. After a short amount of time, the sign was deactivated and I was able to use the bathroom. Once done, I popped another melatonin and was able to sleep another 3-4 hours, setting a record for me (most sleep on a flight).

After waking up from my nap, I proceeded to read on my kindle until somewhere over Canada the flight attendants began the breakfast service. The only option available was an omelette.

Image The breakfast tray.

Image The omelette.

Image The cookie

The omelette itself was not anything to write home about. The salad contained surprisingly fresh tasting lettuce served with the same creamy dressing that dinner came with. The sweet bread roll was crisp on the outside and soft on the inside, and it was perfectly complimented by the butter and honey that came with it. The meal also came with 2 different types of yogurt, which I ignored because I'm not a big yogurt person.

About an hour before our scheduled arrival times we executed one of the softest, smoothest landings that I have had since I flew F9 in 2011/2012. While the terminal was relatively empty, I was able to snap this picture as we taxied to gate 62.

Image VS A346

Arrival
Due to to our early arrival US CBP had almost no line. Unfortunately, it still took us a while to clear customs because 1/6th of our group got selected for agriculture inspections (these were mainly the people who had honestly filled out the declaration card).
Once out of customs, we had to wait around the arrivals area for a while until our very sketchy coach bus (complete with a driver who liked like a stereotypical mafia member) arrived to ferry us up to Maine.

Overall Score and Summary

Image
3.4/5

Overall, LY does a good job of transporting passengers to and from Israel. While their hard product and flight attendants was not as good as what I had found on my previous flights on LX and BA, it was still acceptable, and its food could easily compete with BA. Its entertainment was nowhere near as good as these carriers, or the options offered by DL, LH, or UA, but this was compensated for by the ability to get close to a full nights sleep on the flight, a tradeoff that I am definitely willing to make.

As always I have attache my logbook below.
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/ ... N-/pubhtml
WN, LX, AZ, BA, LH, KL, DL, OK, S5, US, UA, VY, IB, AF, LY, F9, CO, YX x2, PD, AC, AA, OO, PT, QK

A319, A320, A321, A332, A333, A343, B712, B733, B737, B738, B753, B744, B764, B772, B789, CRJ9, DH8D, E145, E190
 
345tas
Posts: 174
Joined: Sun Mar 09, 2014 7:05 pm

Re: From my Archives: Summer '14 Returning from Israel One of the Only Ways Available El Al

Wed Jul 25, 2018 12:59 pm

Interesting to see an LY report, thanks.

"Palestinian missile crisis" is a term I haven't heard before to describe the regular Hamas-Israel wars. I laughed.
 
beeweel15
Posts: 1016
Joined: Sun Nov 30, 2003 12:59 am

Re: From my Archives: Summer '14 Returning from Israel One of the Only Ways Available El Al

Wed Jul 25, 2018 3:31 pm

I am surprised you was even able to take pictures in the plane.
 
ConnectAir
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Posts: 96
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Re: From my Archives: Summer '14 Returning from Israel One of the Only Ways Available El Al

Wed Jul 25, 2018 5:57 pm

beeweel15 wrote:
I am surprised you was even able to take pictures in the plane.


I think that might be why I got questioned during the flight.
WN, LX, AZ, BA, LH, KL, DL, OK, S5, US, UA, VY, IB, AF, LY, F9, CO, YX x2, PD, AC, AA, OO, PT, QK

A319, A320, A321, A332, A333, A343, B712, B733, B737, B738, B753, B744, B764, B772, B789, CRJ9, DH8D, E145, E190
 
celestar
Posts: 536
Joined: Mon Jul 09, 2001 11:37 am

Re: From my Archives: Summer '14 Returning from Israel One of the Only Ways Available El Al

Fri Aug 10, 2018 7:15 am

I heard so many bad things about AY that I was very curious to read your TR.
Great writings and capturing lots of details.
After making six round trips visit to Israel within 2 years, I have to say the security screening at TLV was random and interesting at best. They tend to be very straight with flights to Istanbul and latter with my CX flight to Hong Kong, it was noticeably easier. Anyway, I was always the lucky one not my colleagues. My Israeli friend told me they hate AY. I don't blame them.
 
celestar
Posts: 536
Joined: Mon Jul 09, 2001 11:37 am

Re: From my Archives: Summer '14 Returning from Israel One of the Only Ways Available El Al

Fri Aug 10, 2018 7:15 am

I heard so many bad things about AY that I was very curious to read your TR.
Great writings and capturing lots of details.
After making six round trips visit to Israel within 2 years, I have to say the security screening at TLV was random and interesting at best. They tend to be very straight with flights to Istanbul and latter with my CX flight to Hong Kong, it was noticeably easier. Anyway, I was always the lucky one not my colleagues. My Israeli friend told me they hate AY. I don't blame them.
 
ConnectAir
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Posts: 96
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Re: From my Archives: Summer '14 Returning from Israel One of the Only Ways Available El Al

Sat Aug 11, 2018 1:30 am

celestar wrote:
I heard so many bad things about AY that I was very curious to read your TR.
Great writings and capturing lots of details.
After making six round trips visit to Israel within 2 years, I have to say the security screening at TLV was random and interesting at best. They tend to be very straight with flights to Istanbul and latter with my CX flight to Hong Kong, it was noticeably easier. Anyway, I was always the lucky one not my colleagues. My Israeli friend told me they hate AY. I don't blame them.


LY ultimately was not that bad: I actually found them to be better than my previous experiences on UA and DL long haul. With the introduction of the B789 and recent upgrades on their B772 I expect many of the issues that I found (such as poor entertainment options) to be addressed, and I would be interested to see how their new product compares against their old one.
WN, LX, AZ, BA, LH, KL, DL, OK, S5, US, UA, VY, IB, AF, LY, F9, CO, YX x2, PD, AC, AA, OO, PT, QK

A319, A320, A321, A332, A333, A343, B712, B733, B737, B738, B753, B744, B764, B772, B789, CRJ9, DH8D, E145, E190
 
lychemsa
Posts: 1856
Joined: Sun Oct 11, 2009 8:39 pm

Re: From my Archives: Summer '14 Returning from Israel One of the Only Ways Available El Al

Sat Aug 11, 2018 10:13 pm

LOL salad for breakfast? I think they are copying the cheap American lettuce salads. Most European airlines dio the same to save $$$. They used to serve hummus, tahini etc before.
 
lychemsa
Posts: 1856
Joined: Sun Oct 11, 2009 8:39 pm

Re: From my Archives: Summer '14 Returning from Israel One of the Only Ways Available El Al

Sat Aug 11, 2018 10:16 pm

{your Israeli friends hate AY}

First of all it is LY; not AY. AY is Finnair. LY is El AL.

Snobs tend to not like LY. I have been flying with them since 1962 and my opinion is that they are a lot better than US or European airlines. They also still offer 32" legroom vs 31" on many US / European carriers.
 
celestar
Posts: 536
Joined: Mon Jul 09, 2001 11:37 am

Re: From my Archives: Summer '14 Returning from Israel One of the Only Ways Available El Al

Wed Aug 15, 2018 2:00 am

Sorry for making mistake on LY vs AY.
You are probably right on Snobs, my friends that I mentioned as indeed snobbish. LOL
 
DaveFly
Posts: 384
Joined: Wed Aug 31, 2016 9:35 pm

Re: From my Archives: Summer '14 Returning from Israel One of the Only Ways Available El Al

Fri Aug 31, 2018 3:02 am

Since my daughter and her family live in Israel, I visit each year. I’ve flown variously El Al, Delta, United, and Lufthansa.

I don’t know exactly what happened, but El Al’s service markedly improved in the last 2-3 years. Before that, the cabin crews had a well-earned reputation for surly attitudes, and the food was pretty awful. But that seems to have changed, and I find them a notch better than Delta and United. Lufthansa is hard to beat though, although that involves a transfer in FRA (beyond awful) or MUC (very good). El Al’s IFE on both the 777 and 747 is not even worth pressing the button.

Next month I’m flying on El Al’s 787, which I’ve heard very good reports about.
717,727,737,747,757,767,777,787
L1011,DC8,DC9,DC10,MD80/90
A300,A319,320,321,330,340,
CRJ,E135/45/190,
DH8,Avro85,DHBeaver,AstarHelo,F100,ATR42
 
EAR111pt2
Posts: 28
Joined: Tue Jul 31, 2012 9:23 pm

Re: From my Archives: Summer '14 Returning from Israel One of the Only Ways Available El Al

Mon Sep 03, 2018 4:07 pm

A fascinating trip report on El Al. Quite an interesting youth group trip you went on. Keep those archived TR's coming.
 
ewt340
Posts: 820
Joined: Tue Jul 10, 2012 7:22 pm

Re: From my Archives: Summer '14 Returning from Israel One of the Only Ways Available El Al

Mon Sep 03, 2018 6:59 pm

There is a reason why many people avoided them.
 
ConnectAir
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Posts: 96
Joined: Thu Aug 14, 2014 2:20 pm

Re: From my Archives: Summer '14 Returning from Israel One of the Only Ways Available El Al

Tue Sep 04, 2018 12:48 am

EAR111pt2 wrote:
A fascinating trip report on El Al. Quite an interesting youth group trip you went on. Keep those archived TR's coming.


I'm afraid I've emptied out the archives :cry:
WN, LX, AZ, BA, LH, KL, DL, OK, S5, US, UA, VY, IB, AF, LY, F9, CO, YX x2, PD, AC, AA, OO, PT, QK

A319, A320, A321, A332, A333, A343, B712, B733, B737, B738, B753, B744, B764, B772, B789, CRJ9, DH8D, E145, E190

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