Review – UP (El Al) Tel Aviv to Prague, Economy Class Review

Posted on January 16, 2015 by in Airline Reviews

Book your flights on El Al Airlines here.

It had been rumored that Ryanair wanted to set up a base at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Airport, but it never got to that thanks to the myriad of licenses it would have required (or what Ryanair was ready to pay).

Well, El Al stepped in and set up a low-cost alternative (called UP) to the El Al 'full service' product last year. The airline currently flies to Berlin, Prague, Kiev, Cyprus and Budapest from Tel Aviv.

Tickets can be very cheap, as low as $40 for a one-way, and since it is an El Al subsidiary, you can book it through a GDS – e.g. I booked my flight with Chase Ultimate Rewards and paid ~4,500 Ultimate Rewards for the flight. That compares quite well to 10,000 Avios (for a flight on Air Berlin to Berlin) plus taxes and fees 🙂

Now Ben Gurion Airport is known for extra security and so it was on this past holiday Sunday (which is the first working day of a week in Israel). There is a separate security before you can get to the check-in counter. All the questions that you used to be asked when flying to the US – you now know where they came from. Check-in was crowded all over the terminal at 4PM.

The passengers ahead of me seemed really surprised by the $70 bag fee at the airport and $10 fee for check-in at the airport. UP just raised those baggage prices on January 1st from a prior $20 online/$35 offline to $35 online/$70 offline.

After the slow but very friendly check-in, the security was another line (though much quicker) and immigration took a long time but with lots of friendly questions.

I did not have enough time to check out the Dan Lounge properly with my Priority Pass (but I'll be back – not sure if that is such a good thing though).

Now UP flies 737-800 exclusively – these planes might have come from the El Al stock. The seat pitch isn't bad, but there are no private screens or food and drink other than water.

Everyone seemed very professional though and punctuality seemed a major priority. This is what I like about discount carriers – they focus much more on punctuality and getting going quickly.

Despite the pouring rain, we got out of Tel Aviv in a steep left turn almost on time to Prague.

For the fare charged, this is an amazing deal, but I would have been better off if I'd have had a carry-on only.

Book your flights on El Al Airlines here.

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3 / 5 stars