Review of Arkia Israel Airlines flight Tel Aviv Barcelona in Economy

Flight 271
Class Economy
Seat 8F
Aircraft Boeing 737-800
Flight time 05:00
Take-off 02 Jun 22, 18:00
Arrival at 02 Jun 22, 22:00
IZ 15 reviews
Dor
By 612
Published on 24th June 2022

introduction


Hello and welcome to my flight report about my flight with Arkia (which operated by Smart wings) from TLV to BCN.

After almost 3 years without traveling abroad, this was my first time to do so.

When I booked the tickets for this flight, the take off time was 14:15 and the designated aircraft was Arkia's Airbus A321.
Unfortunately, 2 months after my booking, Arkia sent me an email about delay in the take off time (16:15) and I also saw that this flight will be operated by a 30 years old A320, which Arkia leased from Electra airways.
1 day before the flight, Arkia sent me a SMS about the flight operator - Smart wings.

Long time readers of my flight reports, probably know my opinion about Smart wings.
If you didn't read my flight reports about Smart wings, here they are:
QS1285
QS1286


THE WAY TO the terminal



After a short drive to the airport, we arrived to terminal 3 area.
I don't know what is the building with the Israeli flag, but I assume that it's a new parking lot or some extension of terminal 3.
In the past, there were some programs regarding expanding the check in area.


TLV AIRPORT - TERMINAL 3


We arrived to the airport 3.5 hours before our scheduled take off time.
As you will see in the following photos, the airport was very busy.


photo 20220602_124742photo 20220602_124746

This queue is for the first security check for your baggage.
The queue was so long, and I assume that if we would wait on this queue, we would wait around 2 hours.
We used VIP service which saved us a lot of time on this queue.

The check in area was busy as well:


photo 20220602_130902photo 20220602_131912

It seems that after the corona virus, TLV airport is not prepared to handle the passengers amount.
As far as I know, they are still looking for new workers in the airport, in 2020, due to the corona virus a lot of workers were fired or resigned.

Anyway, here's my boarding pass:


photo 20220602_133126

On our way to the second security check (body scan and hand baggage scan):


photo 20220602_133158

Photography is prohibited in the security areas, so I didn't took a picture of this area in the airport.
I can tell that the queue there was much bearable, but longer than pre corona virus times.
It took 20 minutes approximately to finish the second security check and the passport control.

On our way to the duty free:



Terminal 3 hasn't changed too much in the corona time.
My last flight from terminal 3 was in 2019, and it looked almost similar to how it looks today.

I went to the gates area, and took a photo of this Fly Dubai aircraft (Boeing 737-9 MAX I assume):


photo 20220602_135939

We went to the dinning area, which was very crowded:


photo 20220602_140534photo 20220602_141007

We bought two meals in mcdonalds and we paid 107 ILS (31 USD).
Not cheap at all, but in a "standard" mcdonalds branch (not in the airport) you'll pay probably just a bit less.

Did I told in my previous flight reports how much I hate the windows in TLV airport?


photo 20220602_142328

After finishing our meal, we went to the duty free shops:



There are many shops in TLV airport, something which I almost never saw on any European airport.
This is something I really like about this airport, but the prices in the duty free for some products are not lower than the prices on any regular shop.

When we waited in the queue in James Richardson shop, I saw that our flight is delayed by 30 minutes. It's not a lot, but later you'll find out the this wasn't the take off time.


DAN LOUNGE


For the first time I visited in the airport lounge - Dan lounge.
There is also another lounge for Elal flights.

I didn't paid for entering, but in my opinion, the choices were very limited and I wouldn't pay more than 30-40 ILS (8-12 USD) if I had to pay some amount of money.



As you can see, the lounge was clean., but the choices were limited.

4-5 types of salads (non of them looked appetizing in my opinion), soft drinks, beer, soup (who can eat soup when the temperature outside is 35 degrees??), 2 or 3 types of cookies and hot drinks.

I expected to find some sandwiches, cheeses, etc.

While eating, I saw this Boeing 747-400 which Elal used until 2019.


photo 20220602_153346

And this Ethiopian airlines Boeing 737-800:


photo 20220602_155059

While waiting in the lounge, I saw that our flight was delayed again, this time to 19:30!

The toilets were clean on the lounge:


photo 20220602_160613

We tried to spend more time in the lounge, but it was very boring, so we came back to the dining area.


TLV AIRPORT - TERMINAL 3 - CONTINUE


While walking from the lounge to the dining area, I took some photos:



As you can see, the dining area was crowded, but less than the first time.

Somehow, we found that the boarding time has changed to 17:15 and the flight take off changed to 18:00.

We bought coffee in Aroma:


photo 20220602_171906

 Some aircraft photos from the dining area:
Blue Bird Boeing 737-300
Smart wings Boeing 737-800 (Our aircraft)
Lufthansa Airbus A320 or A321


photo 20220602_171757photo 20220602_171822

After drinking our coffee, we started to walk to the gate area:


photo 20220602_172236photo 20220602_172240

And another visit in the toilets before the boarding…


photo 20220602_172538photo 20220602_172651

As you can see, the toilets were clean.

We headed to our gate, C5:


photo 20220602_172846photo 20220602_173031photo 20220602_173045

And our aircraft from the jet bridge:


photo 20220602_173323photo 20220602_173411photo 20220602_173415

Aircraft information:
Smart wings
Boeing 737-8Q8(WL)
OK-TVG
Started it's life in Travel service in May 2007 under the same registration, became a member of the Smart wings fleet in May 2016 (And was leased many times to Sunwing Airlines from Canada, with the registration C-GTVG)
Was 15.2 years old when I flew on it


FLIGHT EXPEREINCE - TLV TO BCN


I sat in my seat, and the first thing I noticed was the lack of legroom.
I'm not tall at all (1.64 meters) and I used a small bag for my photography gear, and still the legroom wasn't great:


photo 20220602_173641

Maybe it could be good for a short flight to Georgia or Romania, but for one of the longest flight from Israel to Europe - it's a big no no.
At least, the seats can be reclined.

We boarded to the aircraft on 17:30, but waited 40-45 minutes in the aircraft due to 2 missing passengers.

While waiting on the aircraft, I took a photo of this Classic Boeing 737 operated by Blue Bird:


photo dsc00112

I hope to fly on some 737 classic one day, unfortunately they just become rarer.


At 18:15 we started our push back, and one engine was started, finally:


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I found it a bit strange, but the second engine was started only somewhere close to the runway.
Never experienced such a thing on jet aircraft, I know that it can happen on turbo prop aircraft like the ATR (which happened on my last flights with Israir).

I took some photos during the taxi:
Swiss Airbus A321 and AA Boeing 777:


photo dsc00116

Terminal 3:


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Turkish Airlines Airbus A321:


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Elal Boeing 737s and Israir Airbus A320:


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During the taxi and the take off, another strange thing which I never experienced - the lights in the cabin were turned off:


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Ryanair Boeing 737-800 landing on Runway 21:


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Our aircraft:


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Former Elal Boeing 747-400 (4X-ELH):


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I flew with this aircraft on the route TLV-BKK-TLV, flight reports are available (LY081, LY082).

Finally, with 2 hours and 15 minutes delay, we took off!
Here's the take off video:



And some photos during climbing over Israel:



The legroom situation, again:


photo 20220602_185951photo 20220602_185958photo 20220602_190000

35 minutes after take off, the crew served us sandwich and glass of water.
We could choose between tuna sandwich and yellow cheese sandwich, I chose the latter:


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Somewhere over Greece or Turkey, one and an half hours into the flight:


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I also noticed that our aircraft was equipped with overhead screens, but they didn't used them on our flight:


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I went to the toilets near to the cockpit, but found them occupied.


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So I went to the one at the back of the aircraft:


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Well, for 2 hours after departure the toilets looked horrible, I flew on longer routes and the toilets looked better.
Of course it's a shame for the passengers who used the toilets, but what about the cabin crew? They couldn't clean it during the flight?

I went back to my seat:


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The rest of the flight was boring and uneventful.

Sunset time:


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Getting close to Barcelona!


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Landing video:



The touch down was pretty hard one.

We were taxied to the terminal, so it was another time for photos:
Iberia maintenance:


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Ryanair Boeing 737-800:


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UPS Boeing 767-300:


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Prime Air Boeing 737, Swift ATRs, Fedex Boeing 757-200 and some aircraft that I couldn't identify:


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DHL Boeing 757-200, ASL Boeing 737 and Fedex Boeing 757-200 and probably Boeing 737:


photo dsc00192

Vueling Airbus A320 family:


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We arrived to the gate at 22:00 (Spain time, 23:00 Israel time).

This old IFE…


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And last cabin view:


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BCN AIRPORT - TERMINAL 1


Gate view:


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Bye bye OK-TVG!

On our way to the passport control:


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As you can see, BCN airport was clean and is looking good in my opinion.
The walking time to the passport control from our gate was around 5 minutes.
The passport control process was very fast, then we went to the baggage claim area.
Before entering to Spain, you need to show your corona virus certificates, the process was also very fast.

The baggage claim area:


photo 20220602_221854photo 20220602_221900

Another good thing about this airport - the baggage came pretty fast!
Well done BCN airport!


NEXT FLIGHT REPORTS


Flights to\from Europe:
VY7844 (BCN-TLV)
LY571 (TLV-OTP)
RO153 (OTP-TLV)

Flights to\from Canada:

AC81 (TLV-YYZ)
AC80 (YYZ-TLV)

Domestic flights in Canada:
F8 1821 (YYZ-YYC)
WS654 (YYC-YYZ)

I hope that you enjoyed and hope to see you again in my future flight reports!

See more

Verdict

Arkia Israel Airlines

4.5/10
Cabin5.0
Cabin crew7.0
Entertainment/wifi0.0
Meal/catering6.0

Independent Dan Lounge

6.0/10
Comfort7.0
Meal/catering5.0
Entertainment/wifi6.0
Services6.0

Tel Aviv - TLV

8.8/10
Efficiency6.0
Access10.0
Services10.0
Cleanliness9.0

Barcelona - BCN

9.5/10
Efficiency10.0
Access10.0
Services8.0
Cleanliness10.0

Conclusion

The flight was a big disappointment for me.
I hoped to fly on a new Airbus A321 with power sockets, Wifi and new cabin, but instead flew on a 15 years old leased Boeing 737-800 from one of my least favorite airlines with an old cabin and without any IFE options.
The cabin looked tired, old and not so clean, the toilets were very dirty and I also saw that some air vents were broken.
This is the reason I gave them such low cabin score.
At least, the served some food on the flight, the sandwich was tasty, but for such a long flight I expected to get a full meal.
The cabin crew was OK, but nothing to write home about.

TLV airport must recruit a new members for the security teams. The queues were very long, and now as we are closing to the children vacation, they will be more unbearable.
This is the reason I gave them only 6 in the efficiency score. Pre Corona virus time, I gave them better score on this parameter.
On the remained parameters, TLV airport was good as it was in the past.

The lounge was also nothing special.
The service in the lounge was good, it was clean and quiet, but the catering options were very limited,

BCN airport was very nice!
I was easy to navigate in the airport and the walking distance between the gate and the exit from the terminal wasn't too long.
Anything in the airport went well and very fast.
The services on 22:00 were pretty limited (just some coffee shop and probably some rental cars companies) , but it makes sense, since there aren't many flights on this hour.

Information on the route Tel Aviv (TLV) Barcelona (BCN)

6 Comments

If you liked this review or if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to post a comment below !
  • Comment 606233 by
    ROY 53 Comments

    For a low cost company, the seats pitch looks great, and also don't forget, the seats are heavier than regular low cost company

  • Comment 606312 by
    lysflyer GOLD 1274 Comments

    Thank you for reporting such rare line despite the experience being below the average. The catering is well welcomed although on not enough for the length of the flight.
    LYSflyer

    • Comment 606313 by
      Dor AUTHOR 93 Comments

      Hi,

      It feels pretty strange to give this score to Arkia and not for Smartwings, but this is what I told to do after I asked in the contact us form in the website.
      However, it makes some sense since it's a usual thing in Arkia, to wet lease an aircraft in the busy months (usually around June to October).
      I wrote about my past experience with both airlines (Arkia and Smartwings) if you're interested.

  • Comment 606544 by
    KévinDC TEAM GOLD 5952 Comments

    Too bad to have gotten a wet-lease aircraft instead of the nice new A321neo LR! Seeing as IZ lease a lot of capacity in the summer months, between Smartwings, Neos, TUS, and several others, there's a big chance to be on a leased aircraft. 5-hours is a long time in a 738 with the maximum 189-seats. I guess it's good that you're not too tall.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Comment 606626 by
      Dor AUTHOR 93 Comments

      I didn't knew about the aircraft Arkia leased from TUS!
      As I mentioned, when I booked this flight the assigned aircraft was the A321!
      But since it's the summer holiday, many people travel abroad and Arkia doesn't have enough planes for all those flights.
      It happened in the past as well, but I didn't expected to have such problem on June, maybe in July or August.

      And yes, since I'm short it was better, but still not a good experience.

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