El Al to trial non-stop Israel-Melbourne flights in April-May 2020

The Israeli flag-carrier says it will run a 'trial' of direct flights between Tel Aviv and Melbourne across April and May 2020.

By David Flynn, December 10 2019

Israel's El Al will run a series of direct flights to Melbourne in April and May 2020 as a trial to assess demand on the new non-stop route.

The airline is now selling tickets on three 'test flights' between Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Airport and Melbourne as part of evaluating a regular non-stop service.

The flights depart Tel Aviv on April 2, April 23 and May 14, with the return leg from Melbourne departing April 4, April 25 and May 16.

"As we continue to renew our fleet with Dreamliner aircraft, we are trialing additional unprecedented alternatives for expanding our route network and further connecting Israel with the Diaspora," said Michael Strassburger, El Al Vice President Commercial and Industry Affairs.

Melbourne vies with Sydney as home to Australia's largest Jewish populations, but El Al's flights will be the first direct link between the two countries.

El Al's Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner will pioneer the non-stop route between Tel Aviv and London.
El Al's Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner will pioneer the non-stop route between Tel Aviv and London.

The flights, which are estimated to take around 17 hours, will also rank among the world's longest, potentially surpassing Emirates' Dubai-Auckland marathon.

Inside El Al's Boeing 787 Dreamliner

El Al rely on its new Boeing 787-9 fleet to make the journey between Tel Aviv and Melbourne. London-based design firm PriestmanGoode helped shape the Dreamliners with new seats and cabins, along with an updated livery to better reflect the airline's flag-carrier status.

El Al's Boeing 787 Dreamliner business class.
El Al's Boeing 787 Dreamliner business class.

The 'Business First' cabin features 32 seats with direct aisle access, and follows a staggered 1-2-1 layout which is similar to that of United Airlines' latest Polaris product.

El Al's Boeing 787 Dreamliner business class.
El Al's Boeing 787 Dreamliner business class.

Each seat is 21" wide, and combines a clear sense of well-appointed personal space with handy shelves and stowage nooks.

El Al's Boeing 787 Dreamliner business class.
El Al's Boeing 787 Dreamliner business class.
El Al's Boeing 787 Dreamliner business class.
El Al's Boeing 787 Dreamliner business class.
El Al's Boeing 787 Dreamliner business class.
El Al's Boeing 787 Dreamliner business class.

The seats transform into a 78" fully-flat bed, with plenty of movies and TV shows piped through to the 16" HD video screen.

El Al's Boeing 787 Dreamliner business class.
El Al's Boeing 787 Dreamliner business class.

The business class cabin itself is finished in rich tones of champagne, chocolate and wood.

El Al's Boeing 787 Dreamliner business class.
El Al's Boeing 787 Dreamliner business class.

Behind this are 28 premium economy seats – a first for El Al – in a 2-3-2 arrangement of 38" pitch. The seats themselves are 19.4" wide, with 13" screens and a personal storage recess on the back of each seat.

El Al's Boeing 787 Dreamliner premium economy class.
El Al's Boeing 787 Dreamliner premium economy class.
El Al's Boeing 787 Dreamliner premium economy class.
El Al's Boeing 787 Dreamliner premium economy class.

The 222 standard economy seats (30-31" pitch, 17" width) include 12" screens plus AC and USB charging sockets.

El Al's Boeing 787 Dreamliner economy class.
El Al's Boeing 787 Dreamliner economy class.

This video from El Al showcases its Boeing 787 'Business First' experience.

 

While El Al doesn't belong to any of the major three airline alliances, its position as a Qantas partner means that El Al flights can be booked using Qantas Points, while El Al flights booked under a QF codeshare will earn a full serve of Qantas Points and status credits.

David

David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Delta Air Lines - SkyMiles

14 Apr 2013

Total posts 319

Will Qantas Code Share as they are partners

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 573

It's a good question but I assume QF's partners in Dubai may have a strong opinion on this. Qantas currently connect to LY in Bangkok but I don't believe they codeshare.

Delta Air Lines - SkyMiles

14 Apr 2013

Total posts 319

Yes QF does Code on the BKK - TLV flights. I believe is QF5021.

The TLV - BKK code is QF5020

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Oct 2011

Total posts 327

What EK thinks will be irrelevant. QF already codeshares on LY BKK-TLV so codesharing MEL-TLV would not be an impediment.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

28 Jun 2019

Total posts 5

Considering the UAE likes to pretend Israel doesn't exist, technically they shouldn't have an opinion at all, because it doesn't exist, right?

Joe
Joe

03 May 2013

Total posts 400

Flying kangaroo- if you were reading between the lines of late you'd have noticed the UAE, Bahrain and KSA cosying right up to Israel because of their mutual Iranian foe.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Oct 2011

Total posts 327

The enemy of my enemy is my friend.

24 Apr 2014

Total posts 273

Wonder what the routing will be? It's tricky as they don't fly over ‘enemy' territory.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 573

They have relations with Egypt so they will probably overfly Egypt and then track down the Red Sea to the Indian Ocean. This is the same routing their Indian flights use.

I assume flight will be severely load restricted westbound.

24 Apr 2014

Total posts 273

Yes maybe, I've flown them from Thailand and I think it was a similar route along the Red Sea.

29 Nov 2019

Total posts 4

there's talk underway that the Saudi's will allow El Al to route over the kingdom, Air India already routes over Saudi to TLV. Still many hostile territory will need to be avoided. Reason El Al does not fly to Singapore, and SQ does not fly to TLV is because there's some serious airspace maneuvers required around Malay airspace. They won't hear of it.

29 Nov 2019

Total posts 1

Saudi allows AI 139/140 Delhi Tel Aviv to fly right our its kingdom (dont understand the logic) but

Lmc
Lmc

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Nov 2018

Total posts 60

Wow certainly didn't expect this... I wonder if it will work.

QF - Red

23 Nov 2012

Total posts 32

This. Is. Epic.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

05 Oct 2016

Total posts 48

Fantastic! Another way to London and Europe hopefully, depending on timings!

06 Jun 2017

Total posts 26

Will be trying this out, always wanted to see Tel Aviv. Could do a 1 week trip to Tel Aviv and Cairo!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Oct 2011

Total posts 327

You'll need more than 1 week to see Israel and Egypt!

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

21 Feb 2012

Total posts 29

And should definitely include Jordan....it's at least a 2 week trip, but well worth every minute

Joe
Joe

03 May 2013

Total posts 400

I was told ELAl were allowed to fly here many years ago but their insistence on Mosad and their own security doing checks was refused by Australian Government. Get ready for interrogation before and after check-in. I've heard the product is very average. Their lounge in TLV is horrible. Hope it works nonetheless easier for families and businessmen.

29 Nov 2019

Total posts 4

You heard ? I beg to differ, been there several times. Their biz class lounge in TLV is huge, on 2 levels, food I plentiful, 24 hours, Carmel Forest Spa massages & treatments available, the list goes on. Go see for yourself instead.

Joe
Joe

03 May 2013

Total posts 400

Please read a little more carefully; I flew BA in and out to avoid the interrogations by flying EL AL on advice from Israeli colleagues - hence "I heard".

The lounge however I did visit nothing special average and overcrowded - hence "is". I will admit the 787 does look promising.

15 Sep 2012

Total posts 88

I recently saw a photo on Facebook of departure board at Melbourne Tullamarine in early 70s that showed a flight going to Tel Aviv. Wasn't Qantas but can't remember who. Anybody know?

29 Nov 2019

Total posts 4

You're right. in the '70's Air France and Alitalia, both routed via TLV to Asia and Australia. AF routed via TLV-Teheran (prior Khomeini)-Bombay-Bangkok-Sydney-Melboure and Alitalia had a similar routing but via Hong Kong I believe.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

21 Feb 2012

Total posts 29

Air France have never flown to Australia. Back in the 60's and 70's, TAI originally flew and then when they amalgamated with UAT, the airline became UTA. They flew to Paris via Teheran but not TelvAviv.

29 Nov 2019

Total posts 4

You may be right, maybe they did not fly all the way to Australia, but AF and AZ definitely flew via TLV to Teheran (prior to the ayatollah coup) and then onto Bombay, Hong Kong or other. PS. Even El AL flew to Teheran in those days.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

21 Feb 2012

Total posts 29

Are you sure? A flight from Melbourne to Tel Aviv? I recall in those days most Israel bound passengers transferred in Athens for Tel Aviv. Lufthansa carried a lot of passengers to Athens from Melbourne and Sydney who were transiting to Tel Aviv.

If you thought security for US airlines was intense.

QF

02 Nov 2012

Total posts 37

Have to agree. Recently flew CX HKG-TLV and security onto the plane was above average but security into Israel at TLV seemed relatively relaxed. However the security flying out that really stood out. There was a security check before check in!

24 Apr 2014

Total posts 273

The reason there is tight security when you leave is because they want to know where you have been in Israel.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

13 Dec 2012

Total posts 42

The aisle business class seat seems to leave you very exposed in bed mode.

21 Aug 2019

Total posts 30

Great. Another Kangaroo Route option to London and Europe.

Etihad - Etihad Guest

23 Apr 2019

Total posts 6

The hard product on the dreamliners is good. All the older planes hard product is very poor. I've done the old B777 HKG-TLV last year and it was awful. This year it switched to the B787-9 and it was like a different airline.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Jul 2014

Total posts 137

It's always great to see a new carrier coming to Australia. Hopefully they can make the trial work.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

08 Aug 2016

Total posts 10

Don't forget they wont fly on Friday/Shabat, so no arriving on Saturday before the start of the working week (Sunday).

Economy even on the dreamliner is mediocre. They have an upgrade package in Economy where a perk is your own personal bottled water, rather than poured into a plastic cup.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

08 Aug 2016

Total posts 10

and re security - I would assume extended security check before you get to check-in at Melbourne. Plus the extreme security when leaving TLV.

16 Nov 2018

Total posts 14

Be prepared to be questioned for an hour at check-in by staff, especially if your passport shows that you have been to Muslim countries in the past.

If you often do international mile runs, expect questions like "why do you travel there alone?" "how much did it cost?" "why do you have so much miles?" "you don't need to work?"

Give yourself 4 hours at the airport.

04 Dec 2017

Total posts 28

Try 2 hours. The whole world lets you, as an upright world citizen, glide straight through customs but TLV is a nightmare if they don't like a visa in your passport or the colour of your socks. Don't even get me started about the painful departure security procedures! I would never chose this routing or airline for the kangaroo route esp when you have luxurious airlines such as Qatar, Singapore, Emirates A380's with bars, real cuisine, beautiful amenities and impeccable service to choose from.

Etihad - Etihad Guest

04 Mar 2018

Total posts 8

Been in and out of Israel 4 times. Pre boarding going to Israel, Did not take more than 5 minutes. However my 3rd time going in took 10 mins. This was because a new to the job person did the questioning and needed to keep going back to her supervisor.

Does not bother me as they have been professional and respectful. If you want a bad experience try to convince the TSA in USA they are wrong. They get real threatening and when proven wrong just yell at you to leave with no apology. The Israel's are professional at what they do

Etihad - Etihad Guest

04 Mar 2018

Total posts 8

I agree the old 747 and 777 were tired and old and the crew were far from happy people.

Did the 787 from JHB to TLV, and TLV to Hong Kong. Brighter cleaner nicer, and crew were motivated. Issue I found is that getting into and out of Business Class seats, was too difficult. This applies to seats where the seat is away from the isle. The gap is just too small. I am 6 ft 3 and slender and had issues squeezing thru the gap, As such I will not fly EL AL with the 787, as they have saved 50 to 75mm and lost a customer.

I am not paying the Business Class price to be squeezed into the cabin.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

11 Dec 2016

Total posts 45

I heard that upon entering Israeli airspace, everyone needs to be seated for security reasons.

Is that true?

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

14 Jun 2017

Total posts 33

Israel is so small that the plane always begins its descent well before entering its airspace.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

21 Feb 2012

Total posts 29

Same as Singapore.

Etihad - Etihad Guest

04 Mar 2018

Total posts 8

Depends. If you come in from the north than usually over the Mediterranean Sea. But from the south no. Israel is about the size of Victoria.

15 Jul 2016

Total posts 4

Victoria is 227,444 km²

Isreal is 22,072 km²


Etihad - Etihad Guest

04 Mar 2018

Total posts 8

Nit to my knowledge. It's the same as most airlines. That is just before landing. If you come in over the Red Sea and up the Gulf of Asana we are well past Eilat and within Israel before seat belts.

Any way you are safer inside Israel.

Cheerd

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

27 Nov 2017

Total posts 11

Flew El Al in January 2019. Yes. Security was strict going in but didn't take more than 10 mins and was largely done at the departure gate via interview (GVA).

On arrival in TLV my wife' passport hadn't been exit stamped the last time we were in Israel. So there was an issue at immigration. As a previous post mentioned, this was quickly and respectfully ironed out. None of the aggression and power trip that you might find in other countries.

A reminder that security is your friend. Be grateful that it is done comprehensively and professionally...anywhere.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

27 Nov 2017

Total posts 11

The (737-900) flight itself was fine (we were in Y). It was up there with any western European carrier...except you get the very distinct impression that ELAl is an extremely safe and secure airline with both flight and cabin crew trained to their eyeballs and very proud to be presenting their country to the world. You can't say that about many other carriers.

Etihad - Etihad Guest

23 Apr 2019

Total posts 6

Answer the security questions honestly and in a friendly manner and you will be done in 5-10 minutes. Smile. They always smile back unlike the American TSA thugs. Remember that they usually know the answers to the questions they ask you and know what you had for dinner last night so don't be a smart alec. Security is there for your benefit.

I suspect the recently announced roll out of the new heavily armed swat teams at the big 6 airports in Australia early next year were a prerequisite.

24 Apr 2014

Total posts 273

Agree, if you just answer all the questions respectfully and have patience when they ask the same questions in a different way you will be fine. I have flown them probably 20 times and the experience is nearly always different, ranging from breezing through security to being interrogated for 1.5 hours.

Yaf
Yaf

02 Nov 2012

Total posts 35

BA use the Dan lounge at TLV and it is basic. EL Al have its own lounge which is very good

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

04 Mar 2015

Total posts 5

17hrs in 30" pitch in economy (where the majority of flyers sit). Not sure about that. I'm all for ultra-long-haul flights but it needs an ultra-long-haul product and service to match - especially if they are charging a premium fare in all classes (eg QF said their non-stop SYD-NYC would attract a 30% premium and sure El Al and all others would do similar).


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