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El-Al Travel Tips
With a fleet of some 27 aircrafts, El-Al Israeli airlines is the national carrier for Israel, hence it is the airline with most flights to and from Israel. For those of you seeking to come to Israel on any purpose, El-Al will usually provide the most convenient flight schedule which usually makes it the obvious choice. Being an ex- El-Al airline stewardess I believe there are some insights I can provide for those of you who already made the choice and are planning their flight to Israel with El-Al Israeli airlines.
The first thing to note is that El-Al is an Israeli airline, meaning the crew is all-Israeli as well as most of the passengers (generally speaking, of course). That means that a passenger who is not Israeli and is flying with El-Al needs to take into account a number of factors about the Israeli nature and especially that Israelis are very straight-forward: when they ask you how much your salary is, they are not being rude – they’re just being faithful to their national nature. With that in mind, try and “buffer” all the remarks you may receive – that’s what Israelis already do by nature.
Before flight boarding you will have to go through some security checks. Before September 11 nobody else preformed such checks and passengers would always be surprised at how long that takes, but nowadays unfortunately, most Americans already understand the need and procedure. Be patient and courteous, and you should be fine. If you are summoned to a second round of checks, know that the airplane will be waiting for you till you’re done. That is, unless you really have something planned for the flight – in that case, be sure they’ll catch you :-).
After boarding the flight, keep in mind that in order to get your wants from the flight attendant, you need to get to the flight attendant’s heart – a strict tone or anything that may sound as a command would only get you farther from your goal, while a simple modest request will usually get you through. Almost anything you can think of can be found on board: playing cards, any kind of alcohol or liquor, bigger cushions, a baby kit with diapers and baby paste and even fresh fruits of all sorts – you just have to ask for it politely, while giving the attendant some respect.
About 5-10 minutes after take off ends and the seatbelts signs turn off, the crew will start serving drinks and then dinner. The entire procedure takes an hour and a half in which it is highly inconvenient to make a trip to the toilets, so be advised that unless you want to wait that hour and a half, the best time to use the toilets would be right after takeoff.
All meals on El-Al are kosher, special meals (i.e. vegetarian, special kosher, Kids meals) are served just before the rest of the passengers receive their meals, and the trays are picked up from all passengers at the same time. That creates a situation where people who have ordered special meals have to stay seated for a much longer time. I would really recommend giving up on that special meal if you can. Regular meals have plenty of vegetables in them, and kids always enjoy the regular meal much more than the kids’ meal.
If you’re a smoker and need to buy cigarettes- the airplane would be the chapest place on your trip. A cigarette pack costs 2.3 USD on the airplane, and you can double that for the cost once inside Israel.
According to El-Al regulations, Laptop charging is only available in business and first classes. However, there is a 220 Volt outlet as well as a jump-seat right next to every emergency exit, so that if you’re nice enough and know your way to the attendants’ hearts, they will let you use it.
wireless internet access is also available on some of the aircrafts (3 aircrafts currently, and a new one every month) for a fee ranging between 10-30$ for the entire flight.
With all the above in mind, I still find El-Al to be one of the nicest airlines around. Enjoy your trip to Israel!