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It wasn’t all that far in the past that most of the news surrounding the Dreamliner was centred on the endless delays to production and then the onboard batteries that had a tendency to catch fire…but those days seem a long time ago. The 787 is now an undoubted success, it’s appearing in more and more fleets worldwide and it’s allowing airlines to operate routes which, up until recently, were simply not economical.
The latest airline to take delivery of its first Dreamliner is Israel’s EL AL who, just last week, received its first 787-9 aircraft.
The EL AL 787-9 Dreamliner’s First Routes
Tel Aviv – London Heathrow
The airline’s new Dreamliner is set to debut on the Tel Aviv – London Heathrow route on 12 September as flight LY315.
LY315 TLV 10:15 – 13:35 LHR
LY316 LHR 15:25 – 22:15 TLV
The 787-9 will operate a number of LY315/316 flights (but not all) and will also appear as flights LY317/318 as we move in to October.
If you’re hoping to be one of the first to try out EL AL’s new aircraft be aware that aircraft swaps happen regularly and without notice so don’t make non-refundable plans if you can possibly avoid it.
Tel Aviv – New York Newark (EWR)
From 17 October 2017 the Tel Aviv – Newark route will be the second to get the EL AL Dreamliner.
LY27 TLV 00:30 – 05:40 EWR
LY28 EWR 13:30 – 07:10+1 day TLV
The Dreamliner will initially operate this route 6x/week (Mon – Fri & Sun) but this is scheduled to increase to 11x/week from 29 March 2018.
Tel Aviv – Hong Kong
From 18 March 2018 the 787-9 will fly between Tel Aviv and Hong Kong 6x/week on the following schedule:
LY75 TLV 20:50 – 13:50+1 day HKG
LY76 HKG 16:30 – 23:00+1 day TLV
Tel Aviv – New York JFK
New York JFK will be getting the EL AL Dreamliner from 29 June 2018. The aircraft will operate the route 6x/week on the following schedule:
LY007 TLV 10:30 – 15:45 JFK (Mon-Fri & Sun)
LY002 JFK 18:00 – 11:40+1 TLV (Mon-Thu & Sun)
LY014 JFK 21:55 – 15:35+1 day TLV (Sat)
The EL AL 787-9 Dreamliner
A seat map released by EL AL shows the Business Class cabin with 32 Business Class seats, all with direct-aisle-access set out in a 1-2-1 layout.
The aircraft also offers a Premium Economy cabin with 28 seats in a 2-3-2 layout and an Economy Class cabin with 9-across seating in a slighty staggered 3-3-3 layout.
The Business Class cabin looks pretty nice…..
….but it looks as if the seats are laid out in a similar way to the Business Class seats on the Etihad 777-300ER. This means that some seats will be preferable to others.
The best seats will be the window seats in the even rows as they are set away from the aisle and therefore have more privacy. If you don’t have the choice of a window seat then one of the centre seats in the odd rows will be the ones to go for as they have a decent size gap between them.
The best seats for couples wishing to sit alongside one another will be the center seats in the even rows. These seats are shielded from the aisle and are close together allowing easy communication.
The Premium Economy Cabin looks ok too (although I’d avoid the middle seats if possible)….
….and with the legroom at around 38″ and a seat width of 18″…..
…this will be a noticeable upgrade over the Economy Class cabin.
Speaking of Economy Class….
This cabin will almost certainly not be comfortable – 9-across seating never is.
The rows are slightly staggered so there’s a chance that travelers will get a little bit more width and legroom that we see in other Dreamliners….but I wouldn’t expect much. Standard seating offers 31″ of legroom and just 17″ of seat width so anything more than that is a bonus.
As with most Dreamliners we’re seeing, the Business Class cabin looks very nice (although some seats are definitely preferable to others), the Premium Economy cabin is a good option to have (providing the airline doesn’t go for crazy pricing) and the Economy Cabin is one to avoid if at all possible.
The biggest winners here are those sitting up front as this new aircraft sees EL AL move away from offering antiquated angle-flat seating in its premium cabin to offering a true 21st century product.
All images in this article come courtesy of EL AL