Is El Al Finally Introducing a Competitive Business Class?

Some of you may be familiar with El Al, the flag carrier of Israel operating out of Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport. The airline operates an extremely “secure” fleet, with cockpits having bullet-proof doors among other security features. El Al also offers three classes of service: First, Business, and Economy. However, the products really aren’t all that competitive.

El Al's First Class product. Source: El Al

El Al’s First Class product onboard the Boeing 747. Source: El Al

For instance, even the First Class cabin doesn’t give passengers direct aisle access. On the 777-200, the First Class cabin consists of just one row flat beds, in a 2-2-2 configuration. Business Class seats are arranged in a 2-3-2 motif, and feature an angled flat product, or as El Al would call it, a “bed-like seat.”

El Al's 777-200 Seat Map. Source: El Al

El Al’s 777-200 Seat Map. Source: El Al

I want to say El Al should just get rid of their First Class product, but for many passengers who wish to fly direct to Israel, El Al might be the only airline they can or are willing to fly on. For those folks, having flat bed could be very valuable.

But to their credit, El Al is making some effort to refresh their fleet. For example, they ordered 15 Boeing 787 Dreamliner, the first of which will likely be delivered mid-2017. The product that will be featured on the 787 have not been officially announced yet, but we might be getting a hint of what it could be like.

Dan’s Deal wrote about the discovery made by a few forum members, and it looks like a change in equipment has been loaded for September 2 from Tel Aviv (TLV) to Los Angeles (LAX). This route is usually operated by a 777-200, but on that specific date is now operated by the Boeing 787-9. More interestingly, the fare codes for First Class (F and A) are not available, while there are four new fare classes loaded (W, Q, B, and P).

El Al may be dropping First Class and adding Premium Economy with the launch of the Boeing 787.

El Al may be dropping First Class and adding Premium Economy with the launch of the Boeing 787.

This might just be a “dummy” entry for the time being, and we don’t know for sure when El Al will start operating the 787 just yet. But this might mean that with the launch of the Dreamliner, El Al will be getting rid of their First Class, and might even be adding Premium Economy as a separate cabin. The airline currently offers “Economy Class Plus” with extra legroom, though I don’t believe those book into the “new” fare codes that have popped up.

Digging a little further reveals a new seat map as well. The Business Class cabin is in a 1-2-1 configuration, meaning El Al might finally be installing a Business Class product with direct aisle access and, presumably, a fully flat bed.

El Al might be giving Business Class passengers direct aisle access with the Boeing 787.

El Al might be giving Business Class passengers direct aisle access with the Boeing 787.

This video that El Al posted on YouTube would also suggest that fully flat beds with direct aisle access are coming to the new Business Class seat. (This is the last frame I got before the camera cut away, so either it’s a generic mock-up, or El Al is just giving us a sneak peek and will unveil the seat later on).

Is this a sneak peek of El Al's new Business Class cabin?

Is this a sneak peek of El Al’s new Business Class cabin?

If that’s true, that will be really good news! El Al’s current hard products are lagging. And with more airlines (with good hard products, like Cathay Pacific’s A350) serving the Israel market, they needed to step up their game. It will be a bit mind-boggling though, that the potential, new Business Class product might actually be better than the current El Al First Class product!

And maybe this means El Al can finally just call their Business Class flat bed seats, instead of “bed-like” seats…

 

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  1. That is a dummy entry. El Al does not fly on Saturday (the sabbath), until Saturday night (end of sabbath). Also, the flight number is a simply a play on the regular one. However, I’m sure the equipment info is accurate.

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