Flying El Al's Premium Economy to Tel Aviv, Israel: Exploring the Skies in Comfort
Tel Aviv, Israel ✈
In April 2022, I had the opportunity to fly Premium Economy roundtrip on El Al Israel Airlines from Newark, New Jersey (EWR) to Tel Aviv, Israel (TLV) and back. The aircraft used for this route was the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, a modern and comfortable choice for long-haul flights. Upon boarding, I noticed a bottle of water awaiting at each Premium Economy seat, a nice touch signaling a step up from the regular economy experience.
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“Flying Premium Economy on El Al provided a balanced mix of comfort and affordability. It's a significant step up from regular economy, offering extra amenities and space, without the higher price tag of business class.”
The seats in Premium Economy are more spacious than those in regular Economy, with greater room for reclining. The cabin configuration is a 2-3-2 arrangement, which is less dense compared to the standard economy seating. This extra space was particularly noticeable in the seat pitch and width. The pitch, which is the distance between a point on one seat and the same point on the seat in front of it, was noticeably more generous than in regular economy seats, allowing for more legroom and a more relaxed seating posture. Additionally, there's a dedicated footrest and an adjustable headrest offering six modes of comfort.
The seat pitch in Premium Economy is 38 inches and the seat width is 19.4 inches. This compares to the Economy class on the same aircraft, where the seat pitch was about 30 inches, and the seat width was 17 inches. Although these seats don't offer the fully lie-flat experience of business class, their increased recline of up to 7 inches made it easier for me to fall asleep compared to a standard economy seat. These seats can be especially beneficial for long-haul flights like Newark to Tel Aviv. I also like the wider seats in Premium Economy which means more personal space, reducing the feeling of being cramped during the flight.
Besides a pillow and blanket, each Premium Economy passenger received an amenity kit which included essentials like socks, a sleeping mask, toothbrush and toothpaste, earplugs, and hand care lotion. These small items significantly enhanced the comfort of the journey, especially on such a long flight.
An important aspect of my flight experience was the meal service. Reflecting Israel's cultural and religious practices, El Al serves only kosher in-flight meals. This is a unique aspect of their service, catering to the dietary needs and preferences of many of their passengers.
Even though all the food is kosher, you can select a “strictly kosher” meal when you book your flight. This kosher meal is considered to be a higher standard of kosher food which meets certain guidelines. I chose this meal, which, like other kosher plane meals, came wrapped. However, in Premium Economy, these meals were also served on real dishes, the same as what is offered in business class. This added an element of refinement to the dining experience in the air.
The In-Flight Entertainment system by Panasonic features a personal 13-inch touch screen with a wide variety of content. The front row screens are slightly smaller at 12 inches.
History of El Al
El Al Israel Airlines has a rich history that reflects both the development of the state of Israel and the evolution of aviation technology. El Al has played an important role in national and humanitarian efforts. Notably, it was involved in Operation Solomon in 1991. Operation Solomon was conducted by the Israeli government and El Al Israel Airlines to rescue Ethiopian Jewish refugees and bring them to Israel. During this mission, El Al set a world record for the most passengers on a commercial aircraft, as it transported thousands of Ethiopian Jews over a very short period. This operation is a significant event in both the history of Israel and humanitarian efforts worldwide.
Here are some key points in El Al’s history:
1. Foundation and Early Years (1948-1949): El Al was founded in 1948, the same year as the establishment of the State of Israel. Its first flight was a special operation to transport Israel's first president, Chaim Weizmann, from Geneva to Tel Aviv. Initially, El Al used leased aircraft, but it soon acquired its own planes, including two unpressurized DC-4s purchased from American Airlines.
2. Growth and Expansion (1950s-1960s): In the 1950s and 1960s, El Al expanded its services, adding cargo operations and increasing its international destinations. The airline played a crucial role in airlifting Jewish immigrants to Israel, particularly from Middle Eastern and North African countries.
3. Modernization (1970s-1990s): El Al continued to modernize its fleet, introducing more advanced aircraft like the Boeing 747. It also became known for its stringent security measures. El Al is renowned for its high level of security, both in the air and on the ground. It's one of the few airlines worldwide to equip its planes with missile defense systems. The airline's security protocols are often considered the most stringent in the world, including rigorous passenger interviews and thorough baggage inspections.
4. Economic Challenges and Privatization (2000s): Like many airlines, El Al faced economic challenges, particularly in the early 2000s. This led to a government bailout and subsequent privatization, with the airline being listed on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.
5. Recent Developments (2010s-2020s): In recent years, El Al has continued to modernize its fleet, introducing the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, marking a significant upgrade in passenger comfort and efficiency. The airline has also expanded its network of routes.
In keeping with Jewish religious practices, El Al does not operate flights on the Jewish Sabbath (Shabbat) or religious holidays. This policy has been a distinctive feature of the airline since its inception.
Throughout its history, El Al has been a symbol of Israeli ingenuity and resilience, overcoming significant challenges to maintain its position as Israel's national airline. It has played a vital role in connecting Israel with the rest of the world and in supporting the nation's tourism and business sectors.
Flying Premium Economy on El Al provided a balanced mix of comfort and affordability. It's a significant step up from regular economy, offering extra amenities and space, without the higher price tag of business class. This made my journey from Newark to Tel Aviv and back not just bearable, but quite a pleasant trip as well.
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