Review of El Al Israel Airlines flight Tel Aviv Athens in Business

Flight LY542
Class Business
Seat 5K
Aircraft Boeing 777-200ER
Flight time 02:15
Take-off 06 Feb 24, 20:30
Arrival at 06 Feb 24, 22:45
LY 39 reviews
Yanki
By 912
Published on 12th February 2024

Intro


Routing

  • LY542 - Business - Tel Aviv → Athens - Boeing 777-200ER You are here
  • IZ212 - Economy - Athens → Tel Aviv - Embraer E195 Coming soon

El Al has 3 types of business departments. On 737 planes, the business class is in a 2-2 configuration, with a recliner of 7 degrees. Similar seats are found in premium economy class on the 787 and 777 retrofitted planes, where there is also a modern business class in a 1-2-1 configuration with lie-flat seats, on which the following review is based.
The last business class exists on the 777 planes that have not yet been retrofitted, a relatively outdated class in a 2-2-2 configuration, with bed seats that recline only 170 degrees. I wrote about the seats of this class in the review of the flight to Larnaca that you can find here.


Ben Gurion Airport


With the decline of fighting in Israel, many airlines began to return to flying to and from Tel Aviv, and as a result the number of passengers through Ben Gurion Airport increased. This is why, unlike the previous flight, I decided to arrive at the airport early.
I arrived two and a half hours before the departure time. Due to the number of flights leaving the airport during these hours, the queues for the initial security check were indeed long and began to remind the situation that existed before the war.


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The regular queue for El Al's business passengers, which on normal days is to the right of the general queue and from there they continue directly to the "Shalom" service counters, was not open. In its place was a priority line parallel to the normal line, where luckily there were few people waiting, and within a few minutes I passed the initial security check and the rest of the process, and got straight to the King David Lounge.


King David Lounge


The lounge is located in branch D and is intended for El Al business class passengers only, or for those with a high status in the frequent flyer program (on an El Al flight, or even without an El Al flight if the status is high enough) who are also allowed to bring in a limited number of guests with them, and again, according to the level of status.
Another population that can enter the lounge, and this is an unusual thing that I have not seen elsewhere, are El Al pilots.
All this meant that the lounge was packed and crowded at this hour, so much so that I initially had difficulty finding a seat for myself on the lower level. The lounge is divided into two levels, with the upper level built as a gallery overlooking the lower level, and it also offers a buffet, although it is limited compared to the main buffet on the lower floor, and in my understanding is mainly intended for refills.


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The lounge offers a rich buffet that includes a variety of live salads, pastries, a refrigerator for bottles of soft and carbonated drinks, a great pizza with toppings that comes out hot from the oven every few minutes and is grabbed at the same rate, hot drinks (from machines or manually prepared) and a small variety of Israeli wine.
(Something went wrong with the camera settings when I was in the lounge, so all the pictures from there are blurry or "burnt" but it's better than nothing)



The restrooms in the place were spotlessly clean, and a cleaning worker who was standing there the whole time, made sure to clean after every guest who left. Highly commendable!


Plane spotting


The lounge has large windows facing the C extension and allows viewing of the planes anchored there. Today we saw a familiar friend there, the 777-200 plane (number 4X-ECB) in which I flew to Larnaca last month, the flight review of which you can read here.


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Besides this plane, and later, from the window of my plane, two other related planes were observed, but to understand what is special about them, I will have to give you a short history lesson.
In the 1980s, El Al established a subsidiary for charter flights, called Sandor, and operated a number of 757-200 aircraft (in 2009, I traveled with one of them to Ljubljana, Slovenia). Due to regulatory matters, the company's activity as an airline was shut down in 2011 and became a marketer only.
At the same time, with the massive entry of low-cost airlines into the world of aviation, El Al introduced in 2014 its own low-cost brand, called "UP", which operated a number of 737-800 aircraft in a low-cost format. In 2018, the brand was closed, the planes were returned to El Al and, with the exception of one, all were repainted with El Al livery. Instead of the "UP" brand, El Al began operating flights in a low-cost format using the Sandor brand it owns, but on El Al aircraft, and also began offering Lite tickets that do not include baggage, on the regular flights.
The two planes seen here are 737-800.
The first is 4X-EKR, which is the only aircraft left in the Sandor livery, and operates most of the flights to the discounted Sandor destinations. This is the only El Al plane that operates only one class, 185 economy seats only, without additional classes (premium or business).
(Remember the previous flight to Larnaca? You have no chance of forgetting after how much I wrote about it here. I returned from Larnaca to Tel Aviv on this Sandor plane after that flight).


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The second plane seen is 4X-EKM, which is the only plane left in the "UP" livery but with an El Al logo. It, like its predecessor, is mainly used for flights to Sandor destinations.


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boarding


In boarding there was a rather long line, but the business class passengers had a separate priority line, almost completely empty, and in a moment the flight attendants greeted me with a smile at the door of the plane and showed me my place.


The cabin and seat


The seat I chose was 5K, and I will explain to you right away why I chose it.


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In the modern business classes that come in a 1-2-1 configuration, there are 2 approaches on how to arrange them. Most companies arrange the seats diagonally at a fixed angle, thus gaining legroom (and lie-flat seats) without the need to give each seat the full area. The main disadvantage of this configuration is that even passengers flying as a couple cannot sit close, because their seats are still diagonally, and also the passengers who sit in the window seats, are not really close to the window and there is a space separating them.
There are companies (for example Air France, Delta and many other companies), and of course El Al among them, where the seats in their business class are placed in a staggered manner. One seat is adjacent to the window, and the access to it is through a narrow access road from the aisle, and in the next row the seat is adjacent to the aisle and there is a separation of a locker (underneath which is actually the place for the feet of the passenger in the row behind) between the seat and the window.
Even in the middle pair of seats the division exists, thus creating a situation where in certain rows there are seats closer to the aisle, and in other rows the seats are adjacent to each other ("honeymoon seats"). In the latter there is also a partition that can be lowered or raised, in order to connect or separate the seats.
In the "retrofitted" 777 planes like this one, in row 5, the window seats are adjacent to the window, therefore offering increased privacy and there is also a small roll-up partition on the side adjacent to the aisle, which further increases privacy. Accordingly, the middle seats in this row are far from each other and each is adjacent to the aisle closest to it, thus offering convenient and easy access to the seat.
The combination of the colors of gray and shades of brown create a luxurious and relaxing atmosphere.


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Another advantage exists in the seats in the odd rows, which get 2.5-3 windows per seat, while the seats in the even rows (which are a little far from the windows), get only one window.


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A pillow and a blanket were waiting for me on the seat. The blanket is very pleasant, the pillow is soft but the fabric of the pillow cover felt synthetic and rough, which I think is a bit of a disadvantage. My flight was short, so I didn't even think of going to sleep on it, but on long flights I would expect a pillow with a smoother and more pleasant cotton texture.
The seat itself is Safran Optima Elite and is extremely comfortable, both sitting and lying down. The armrests fold to add width in case of lying down.


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On the left side there is a small storage compartment with a door, which is actually located above the legroom of the passenger in the back row. There is a mirror on the inside of the door, and inside the compartment itself is the remote for the information system. A bottle of water and headphones were also waiting for me there.
Under the compartment there is a universal power connection and a USB-A socket, and a connection for headphones. Between the seat and the compartment is the literature pocket. To the left of the seat are the touch buttons for the seat position, sitting, comfort or lying down, and above them are additional buttons for moving the entire seat forward and backward, as well as the reading light.



The restrooms remained as they were from the old version of the plane, and were not renovated, but were clean and equipped with various toiletries and offered hot or cold water for washing hands.
There were 3 bathrooms for business class passengers. One at the front of the plane for the 28 business class passengers only, and two more behind the class, which also stood jointly for the 32 premium class passengers.


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Pre-departure service


No pre-departure drink was offered, except for the bottle of water that was waiting in the cabin.
The flight attendant greeted me cordially, introduced herself as Timna, and emphasized that she was here for anything I might need. In general, the service throughout the flight was very "at eye level", friendly and lovely and not cold and condescending. Some will like it, and some will prefer a tighter and more meticulous service. I personally loved it.


DEPARTURE


At 8:48 (18 minutes late from the scheduled time) the plane began to pull backwards from the gate, and after a 12-minute drive we arrived at runway 26. The plane (which is the largest in El Al's fleet, with 313 seats) was almost completely full, and the takeoff run took a long time (53 seconds).
We passed directly over Tel Aviv towards the sea during the takeoff, which took approximately 20 minutes, up to a height of 38,000 feet and from there in an extremely calm cruise throughout the flight.



The in-flight service


Immediately after the seat belt signs went off, the flight attendants began the round of service.
First they handed out hot towels (surprising considering the short length of the flight) and after that the distribution of breakfast began. There was no menu to choose from, and there was only one type of meal that was served manually on trays, rather than on a trolley.
The lovely Timna opened (or rather tried to open and failed, until I had to use a little more force, surprisingly for a product that was installed only a few months ago) my table (and I purposely call it a table and not a tray, because it is a definitely decent size!), Spread a white tablecloth over it, and put the breakfast tray on it.
The meal was served cold and was defined as such in advance in the order (again, probably due to the short length of the flight) and included hard cheeses and dried fruits, cut and seasoned vegetables, cream cheeses for spread (one with za'atar and one with pepper spread), jam, berry yogurt with granola and fruit salad and served in porcelain and glassware, along with a white napkin and stainless steel cutlery.
After her, another flight attendant passed by with a trolley, handing out a choice of warm rolls or slices of sourdough bread (which, surprisingly, seemed as if they had been baked now, and did not have the sticky texture that usually characterizes bread on flights), as well as a drink to choose from a large variety of soft drinks and juices. I chose apple juice at this point.
The food was delicious, and it is obvious that thought was put into adapting the dishes to the planes, with an emphasis on the changes in flavors at the altitude of the flight.
A few minutes later, a flight attendant came by again with a trolley and offered more breads and drinks.


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In general, after the meal was over and comfort kits were distributed, the flight attendants stopped offering on their own initiative, but were very attentive to the passengers' requests throughout the flight (drinks, assistance with what is needed, etc.). I don't know if it's the airline's policy, or the staff's independent policy, but either way it didn't bother me because they were still available for any request.


in-flight entertainment


An 18" high-resolution touch screen, usually responded well and quickly, although there were several times there was an annoying delay from the time I clicked until the required action actually happened. The system can also be controlled using a 3.5" touch screen remote control, which also includes physical buttons for most of the immediate actions required , including even a button to call flight attendants.
In the IFE you can find the details of the flight, including a three-dimensional map display of the plane on top of the map and the standard details such as altitude, flight speed, distance to the destination, etc.
The selection of entertainment content is very large. 167 movies, 136 TV shows, 332 audio clips and also 15 games (games, yes. They are controlled by touch or using the remote that also functions as a gamepad).



Wi-Fi


El Al offers 3 Wi-Fi packages during the flight, but only for flights departing from Tel Aviv to the west. On flights departing to the east and south, as of the time of writing these lines, there is no possibility of internet browsing services at all.
The packages range from a $3.99 package (or 750 club points) for messages only, through a Social package for $7.99 (1250 points) to a full package that gives full browsing for $12.99 (or 2000 points). The prices are for an entire flight, and there is no time limit or amount of surfing.
In my opinion, these are particularly affordable prices, which allow you to stay connected throughout the flight. The surfing itself was fast enough (we measured about 12 megabytes).


emenity kit


After breakfast for the flight attendants and distributed comfort kits. The kit arrived in a canvas bag from the L'Occitane en Provence brand, and contained most of the items needed for the flight. Of course the iconic El Al branded socks, a toothbrush and toothpaste, an eye patch that felt pretty basic (I didn't actually try it), earplugs, hand cream, moisturizing lipstick and a refreshing wipe.


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landing


About 25 minutes before landing, the sign to fasten the seat belts came on and the plane began to lower for landing. A few minutes later, the flight attendants went to make sure that all the passengers were wearing seat belts, as well as to check that the seats were perfectly aligned.
The landing itself was relaxed without special incidents, the plane continued without stopping directly from the runway towards the terminal. After the plane stopped and the jet bridge was in place, the flight attendants opened the plane door and let us get off first, by physically preventing the premium class passengers from leaving until the business class was empty.



Athens International Airport


The airport felt quite empty at this time, and everything was being run with maximum efficiency. The port itself is not big, and in about 10 minutes I finished the whole process and found myself at the car rental counter.
I was amused to see payphones at several call points in the terminal. In Israel, for example, they can no longer be found anywhere at all.


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See more

Verdict

El Al Israel Airlines

9.8/10
Cabin10.0
Cabin crew10.0
Entertainment/wifi10.0
Meal/catering9.0

El Al King David Lounge

9.1/10
Comfort6.5
Meal/catering10.0
Entertainment/wifi10.0
Services10.0

Tel Aviv - TLV

10.0/10
Efficiency10.0
Access10.0
Services10.0
Cleanliness10.0

Athens - ATH

9.5/10
Efficiency10.0
Access10.0
Services10.0
Cleanliness8.0

Conclusion

Flying in El Al's retrofitted business class was a great experience. I enjoyed the excellent service before and during the flight, the meal, the comfortable seat and the varied entertainment options. I strongly recommend to anyone flying soon from or to Israel, to consider El Al's business class.

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1 Comments

If you liked this review or if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to post a comment below !
  • Comment 644313 by
    KévinDC TEAM SILVER 6594 Comments
    Nice to get one of the retrofitted 777s on this flight! The cabin looks beautiful and the meal well adapted to this short flight. I am pleasantly surprised to see an amenity kit on a short-haul flight. Wow, very impressive flight overall.

    Thanks for sharing!

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