EL AL Ground Security Measures
EL AL passengers have to go through a security interview before being able to even proceed to the check in counters. My interview was mainly focused on my motives to fly on EL AL, who packed my bags and whether they had been left unattended. It wasn't as invasive as some other passengers have reported on flying EL AL. The security put a slip of paper with codes H K S T in my passport before I was allowed to check-in (I was given a code H).
At the gate, there are additional security measures such as a hand carry search and a security check. I could see that most EL AL passengers were prepared and use to these additional security measures. All in all, the process is similar to a US bound international flight. I am sure there are also additional "hidden" securities done with the checked baggage and cargo.
My flight LY76 from Hong Kong to Tel Aviv was operated by a 787-9 Dreamliner "Rehovot", painted in a special retro livery celebrating the EL AL 70th anniversary.
Video of my EL AL B787 flight
EL AL B787-9 Cabin
EL AL B787-9 has a C32PY28Y222 configuration with a total of 282 seats.
32 Business Class seats in 1-2-1 all direct aisle forward facing configuration. The best seats in my opinion are the window seats and the centre pair seats if travelling with a companion; the aisle seats face in slightly tilted directions.
At first glance, EL AL's Business Class seat looks similar to the United Polaris. However, I felt that they had extra padding and extra width, compared to Polaris; there are also good storage spaces next to the seat. The foot well is quite deep, and being 6'1", I had no problem stretching out fully when the seat was placed in full bed mode.
There are 32 Premium Economy seat in a 2-3-2 configuration.
222 Economy Class seats in a 3-3-3 standard configuration spanning across 2 sections.
During boarding, it seemed many passengers were connecting from Australia, Taiwan, Vietnam to this flight. I was one of the few non-Jewish passengers on this flight, I knew very little about EL AL and Jewish culture before taking this flight.
I was offered an Israeli sparkling wine "Yarden" as a welcome drink.
EL AL's amenity kit is interesting, it is presented in a white net instead of the normal pouch. It features "Laline" brand amenities and I liked the gold EL AL label on the bag.
The flight time to Tel Aviv was 10 hours 45 minutes. As a result of EL AL's inability to fly over many Arabian countries airspace, our flight had to take a Northwesterly route over China then Kazakhstan, Central Asia and the Caspian Sea, before turning south over Turkey, Cyprus and finally flying on into Israel.
EL AL In-Flight Service
After airborne, the in-flight service started with drinks and dinner. The wine list was consisted entirely of Israeli wines. The meals are completely Kosher on EL AL, they're presented with a Kosher certificate. The dinner was presented in one tray with the starter and the main course, followed by fruit and dessert.
To my surprise, in Premium Economy, passengers got to enjoy the same meal as Business Class; although the meal was presented in one large tray.
In Economy, there were choices of potato with chicken or beef with peas and rice.
All the EL AL crew I encountered were friendly, outgoing and curious about me. I had been told that, on most EL AL flights, many passengers would hang out in the galley (this was also true on my flight).
I had several conversations with fellow passengers and crew. A lot of the passengers seemed to be frequent flyers on EL AL and they shared with me their travelling stories. It seemed to me that most of the Jewish people were curious about my frantic filming and photographing behaviour!
I slept for about 5 hours and woke up during the 2nd service, which was breakfast (late in Hong Kong). It was an omelette, but it was quite plain and rubbery. On my later EL AL 747 flight I much preferred the Blintzes on offer for breakfast!
We were landing from the Mediterranean directly into Tel Aviv Ben Gurion Airport. I saw the city during final approach before landing on runway 12. You can see the spectacular approach in my video. After landing, I was among the last passengers to deplane, so I could take one last souvenir photo with the crew.
The whole EL AL 787 experience was very positive and pleasant. With the B787 replacing the B747 and the B767, the Boeing Dreamliner is the future of EL AL.