➔ British Airways World Traveller Plus, Boeing 777, LHR-TLV
➔ Hotel Savoy Sea Side, Tel Aviv
➔ Tel Aviv: City Guide
➔ Dan Lounge, Terminal 3 Concourse E, TLV
➔ British Airways World Traveller Plus, Boeing 777, TLV-LHR
Tel Aviv has been on my radar for around two years now. But I’ve never got around to it for whatever reason. In late 2019, I started to look at it a little closer. With Virgin Atlantic launching flights to the Israeli city in 2019, there were a few options from London. Needing around 200 more British Airways tier points to retain gold status, I was somewhat tied into flying with them. Booking in their Premium Economy (World Traveller Plus) cabin would almost bag me the number I needed, give or take. Flights were around £550 with both British Airways and Virgin Atlantic.
When I came to book, prices had actually gone down! Makes a change. As I’m somewhat Avios rich, but Tier Points poor, I booked a miles plus money fare. A bit of a cardinal sin, I know. But it did bring the final fare down to the £350 mark. Had I made an outright reward booking, I wouldn’t have got any of the tier points I needed, so other than paying full price, this was the only option to reduce the fare.
As luck would have it, British Airways deploy their latest aircraft, the Airbus A350 on the London Heathrow – Tel Aviv route. There were plus points and minus points to taking this flight. The obvious plus was that I’d get another flight on the airlines latest bit of kit. And with the 9pm departure time, I could get away with not using any leave from work on the Friday. The major downside in my opinion was the awful arrival time into Tel Aviv – 03:55am. Ouch.
With the early arrival into Tel Aviv, this also meant the A350 flight departs at a pretty unsociable hour too. Luckily, British Airways offer a second daily flight from Tel Aviv, with a departure time of 16:40. This flight would be operated by the older Boeing 777-200. It’s a shame that the airline has taken the Boeing 787 off of the Tel Aviv route. The perfect option would have been the A350 out and the 787 back, but I guess you can’t have everything.
When online check in opened 24 hours prior to departure, I noticed something was amiss when I happened to check the seat map.
For the second flight in a row, it appeared that the planned A350 had been switched to a 777. This was a little frustrating seeing as the main reason for choosing the later flight was to catch the A350. I did look at changing to the earlier flight, which arrived at a more sociable hour.
Although to be honest, I really wasn’t that desperate to gain an extra 12 hours.
For this trip, the Pod Parking offered the best value. It was the most expensive, but only by a few Pounds. The main benefit of this particular car park is the on demand transfers to the terminal in just a few minutes.
The First wing and indeed the lounge was surprisingly quiet for a Friday evening. Therefore I was through security in minutes.
I grabbed some dinner, followed by a coffee and by the time I was done, gate B32 had been announced.
London Heathrow – Tel Aviv
Boeing 777-200ER G-VIIH
Boarding started at 20:25, which was a little earlier than I was expecting. As it turned out, the boarding process was one of the most orderly I’d experienced anywhere. There was one entrance to the gate area, with two staff on hand. If anyone tried chancing their luck, they were promptly turned away and told to clear the area. Why can’t it be like this every time?!
As a standard British Airways World Traveller Plus ticket gives you group 3 boarding, I was one of the first few onboard. Although there wasn’t anything different with this cabin compared to the one I flew on a few months back.
Ready and waiting on the seat were a pair of new-ish looking noise cancelling headphones, a pillow, a blanket and a basic amenity kit.
Each seat provides a pair of USB ports and a mains power socket.
Once boarding was complete, pre departure drinks of sparkling wine or water were handed out.
Following this, menus were distributed.
A reasonable flight time of 4h15 was given by the captain. Although his welcome speech came 5 minutes after our scheduled departure time, no mention of any delay was made.
Pushback came 5 minutes adrift of schedule. A somewhat lengthy taxi followed over to runway 27R.
Departure came around 25 minutes after leaving the gate.
Just a few moments later a number of people who seemingly thought the seatbelt sign was optional jumped up and started messing about in the overhead lockers. This promoted a PA announcement, but unsurprisingly none of them paid much attention to it from what I could see.
The service got started with a round of hot towels. Although they were neither particularly wet, nor hot. So didn’t do an awful lot.
Around 30 minutes after departure the drinks service was offered.
I was after another can of Speedbird100, but only Heineken was available. Oh well. This was served with the standard pretzels.
Around an hour and a half after departure, the meal service started. If this was a day flight, then it would have been fine. However on a short overnight flight, this didn’t leave too much time to get some rest. By the time the trays were cleared and the lights turned off, there was less than two hours until landing.
Of the three choices on the menu, I went for the pasta. Pretty tasty actually!
The service eventually finished with a round of coffee. At the second attempt. Due to a technical issue with the coffee pot, it had to be remade.
The IFE on offer was identical to what was found on my flight back from Madrid two weeks previously. On this flight however, I had a little more time to watch things, so I started out with an episode of Family Guy followed by The 24 Hour War. Although I didn’t get on with it all that much, and switched it off after 30 minutes or so.
WiFi was available, and it would appear that BA are offering more dynamic pricing for it now. It was definitely cheaper than what was found on my flight to Abu Dhabi previously. Also of note, is that there’s now just the one package. Previously there was a choice of surf or high speed. I guess that due to the high speed option being not overly fast, they ditched it.
After around 90 minutes of lights out, the cabin crew started preparations for landing.
As the approach was mostly over the water, there wasn’t an awful lot to see. The pretty impressive cloud layer hindered the views somewhat too.
Touchdown came and a reasonably slow taxi over to the stand followed. During which time, a huge rain storm broke out.
As we arrived on to stand, we came to a halt. Most of the cabin took this as their cue to get up. Although a few moments later the flight deck were on, saying the stand guidance had broken. Despite the crew making an announcement telling everyone to sit down, most didn’t listen. Therefore most of the crew had to walk the plane telling people to sit down. Why do people struggle to listen to the crew so much???
Despite hearing a few things about how chaotic arriving at Tel Aviv can be, it wasn’t too bad. Other than the fact I got into the wrong queue. It seemed to be that every other agent was processing five people to the one that mine was processing. Luckily, it wasn’t overly busy.
I’d prebooked a transfer to my hotel for just over £42. Seeing that a regular taxi was advertised as just under £40, I was happy enough to pay the little bit extra to remove the hassle.
I maintain my view that the British Airways World Traveller Plus cabin represents good value if it can be had for no more than about £600. Any more, and to be honest, you will probably be better off paying the extra to move further forward a bit.
The biggest thing I can take away from this flight was most definitely the last minute change from the Airbus A350.
Other than that, the slightly slow service getting the meal service done was a bit of a pain. Even if I didn’t want to eat, it would have been difficult to get some sleep with the cabin lights on and the crew working in the aisle.