MAILBAG: The El Al Insanity Is Out Of Control


Dear YWN,

I am writing this letter on behalf of the thousands of you who have not yet done this.

Recently, El Al was purchased by a member of the Frum community. Everyone was thrilled. But I have no idea what changes were made since this airline changed hands, but it’s utter insanity what is going on now, and I’ve personally had enough.

For those of you unaware, every single day flight that is scheduled to land in Newark Airport is being changed to JFK Airport. This was done without any prior notice. People who have their cars parked in Newark are now over an hour away from their cars when they land. Thousands, upon thousands of Yeshiva Bochrim, seminary girls, and families coming back to the United States for Pesach – many of whom had their tickets booked and confirmed WEEKS ago – are suddenly having their airport destination changed. This is a major inconvenience to people from Lakewood, Baltimore, and even NYC.

Making matters even WORSE is that El Al shut their call center when COVID hit, and they have not put it back into service yet. This means that no one can even call to see if their flight is on schedule, etc. Instead, they give you a WhatsApp option, which is a total failure. What major airline doesn’t have a call center?!

When you send a WhatsApp to them, you get this automated response:

נציג וירטואלי שירות לקוחות אל על
Dear Customers,
We are doing our best to provide a quick and efficient customer service,
Unfortunately, due to high demand to fly ELAL, our WhatsApp service will be limited.
You can reach our Customer Service at +972 39771111
Our Call center service is available Sunday-Thursday between 08:30-16:00, Friday between 08:00-13:00 and Saturday evening 19:00-23:00.
We will continue to improve and do our best to provide the best service to our customers.

Does anyone have a calculator? Can you figure out the times when someone from NY can possibly even attempt to reach this call center? Ill do the math for all of you. It’s 1:00AM to 9:00AM Eastern Time. I actually got up at 6:00am and called. And after being on hold for TWO HOURS, I hung up.

I have spoken to nearly a dozen travel agents, and they are all frustrated and dumbfounded. They have no one to talk to and not receiving any answers.

There are many other crazy stories. How about the family of 10 that had a flight to Israel leaving at around 11AM (booked MONTHS ago), and were suddenly told “sorry, the flight is cancelled”, and the family put on a different flight severely impacting their travel and Yom Tov plans.

What’s adding salt to the wound, is the lack of basic courtesy which is standard in the airline industry. Normally, when an airline cancels a flight, any airline, the standard policy is the passenger is entitled to rebook on any flight of their choice as long as the same cabin is available. This is done with no price increase and fare is not a consideration. El Al is ignoring this basic courtesy, and bullying their customers to accept this airport change.

Hundreds of cancelled Newark day flight passengers in both directions who request to be rebooked on the Newark night flight (which is still operating), are being told sorry, you have to keep the JFK one now even though the Newark evening one still has seats left in the same cabin. This is a huge inconvenience to people from Baltimore, Lakewood and Philadelphia who can not access JFK easily at all. Something needs to be done to remedy this.

One travel agent I spoke with was so frustrated, he forwarded me an email that was sent to El Al by a longtime business-class customer.

I am all for supporting a Jewish-owned business. But we are demanding answers or people should think twice about which airline they book with.

Name withheld upon request

NOTE: The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of YWN.


(YWN World Headquarters – NYC)


  1. one thing I know about my people ‘COMPLAINERS’…..ElAl thank you for being El Al, thank you for doing your best to help us out and please don’t listen to those who come from America and outside they have no idea of how a real Jew lives in Israel…be grateful you out of towners or take other air lines and then complain because they hate jews…….me to you…..grow up.

  2. Since years i do not book EL AL anymore.They think because you a jew,you have to fliy with them.
    EL AL means, Every landing always late, terrible customer service under the name leolam tikac.
    They are a lot of other Companys that give a top service,for a lower price. Take them.You never will have
    the experience you have with EL AL

  3. Totally agree! We had transportation from Newark and due to the switch its now costing us an additional $235 each way! Not to mention despite the fact that it’s the same size aircraft- instead of just keeping the original seats everyone booked, they decided to start from scratch and do it for us..They rebooked my seats and my family is all over the plane now, I have a infant, a two year old and a five year old all sitting by themselves. After two hours on hold we were told “there is nothing we can do. If you would like you can purchase an upgrade or wait until after the flight and send a complaint. ” Sheesh. Next time United.

  4. I was told by a rep in jfk that this has nothing to do with elal.. elal lost their slots in ewr during corona and have been fighting to get them back… sometimes they do sometimes they don’t… it is very aggravating but supposedly out of their hands and they are trying hard to rectify it..

  5. Take it easy and stop getting frustrated. As the consumer you have the upper hand. STOP FLYING ELAL!! That’s all. That’s the only message they’ll understand

  6. I share the frustration with ElAl.

    However, your call center hours are not accurate. They are open 9 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. EST. That’s what it was when I called them over the past few weeks.

    The hold times are unacceptable. I waited over an hour, then was told that somehow I was transfered to the wrong department. I was put on hold for another 45 minutes. I had not more time, so I had to hang up. Eventually, after hours of waiting on hold, I finally got through. The lady was extremely nice when she finally answered. I actually thought I was talking to the Bubby of the owner. Maybe they made it into a family business.

  7. Does any logical person think that ELAL strategically plotted to change airports and cause issues to everyone’s travel plans? Clearly there are factors at play that are out of their control. I am sure that ownership is doing everything they can to create an airline that represents our Jewish values, as well as focusing on the needs and wants of the Jewish clientele. (I believe they have recently rolled out a program that ensures a minyan on the flights, as well as a daf yomi program to provide passengers an opportunity to learn).
    Sinas Chinam is one of the main reasons why we are in galus, and although I’m sure we would all hope to be able to fly on ELAL when Moshiach comes, articles like this certainly do not help in expediting the timeline of this.

  8. People love to travel here and there.
    When they’re here, they want to be there. When they’re there, they want to be here.
    You would think that the girls going traveling there to learn, are coming back big Geonim, it’s all Silly.
    We should tell these girls that landing in JFK will make them even a bigger Talmud Chochom than Newark. They’ll all be happy.

  9. Oy nebech. I feel so sorry for you. Forget about the yidden who are displaced and being killed in Ukraine,, tzores yidden are facing in Eretz Yisroel, all the troubles of our golus. The single most important challenge yidden are facing now is the inconvenience of changing an arrival airport. Oy, poor bubbele

  10. I have flown twice to EY since Covid, once on El Al and once on AA/BA. El Al flight was fine. Others have noted that the slot issues at EWR affected El Al and others who weren’t operating during Covid and the slots were taken by others who continued operations. Also, that line about the call center hours is simply untrue. Hold times are outrageous for all the airlines except for those with top level FF status (which I am not for El Al).

  11. ElAl is trying to take over where Tower Air left off. How can we make the lives of our PAYING costumers as miserable as possible and get away with it. And if you criticize them you’re an anti semite. If you file a complaint you’re a Moser. Aha, I see.

  12. Anyone knows a thing biut Israeli culture? They dont give a sh.. for humanity ever. One inconvenient example. Its bad but the normal norm from Israelis.

  13. Sara Rifka – Point 1. What does “no idea of how a real Jew lives in Israel” have to do with the airline chosen to fly to Israel? If one flies British Airways to Israel, are they exempt from know how a real Jew lives? Point 2- “ther air lines and then complain because they hate jews”. Really, that’s news to me and many of us. Does United Airlines specifically hate Jews because they aren’t a Jewish airline? Interesting….

    RamatShilo – “this has nothing to do with elal” Really…. then who’s fault is it? You answered your own question, ElAl didn’t maintain and continue their contract with EWR, so they lost them. Assuming no emergency, an airline can’t just decide to land at any airport without a contractual agreement. I feel like it’s simple to understand.

    Chaylev Halyah – ““jewish” owned?” Correct. The owners reside in Monsey and the rims of their black hats are as wide as yours. They aren’t secular Zionists.

    Git Meshige- Can’t we say the same thing about cancer, illness, poverty, infertility, divorce? Your logic is that since Ukraine is having issues, then no one else really should validate one another that they are experiencing real and valid struggles and challenges themselves.

  14. I have never flown El Al & recently booked a ticket with them to fly in May. I only booked the ticket with them because I am a Kohen & the flights from Newark do not carry masim.

    I just got an email notification that they changed my return flight to JFK. Trying to get thru to them, but have not been successful yet.

    I understand they have issues with losing slots in Newark. But if they are making any automatic changes, it should be to the same airport at a different time. Not changing airports. & if they do change airports, they should be accommodating to switch it back to the night Newark flight. They are the ones initiating the change, they should accommodate. I never heard of any airline changing a flight to a different airport, even in the same State. This crosses State lines.

    I will go back to booking with other airlines & take my chances with the masim issue, unless they fix their ways & operate in a reasonable manner. This is not acceptable.

  15. All airlines do the same thing when it comes to this kind of stuff. I fly Delta because Georgia hospitality and Israeli hospitality sit on the opposite ends of the world.

  16. Git meshige:

    Appropriate name. You are missing one big thinig, and even being dishonest with yourself. If you ch”v had a stomach ache or some other pain, your concern would be for your health and to stop your suffering, noit the Ukranian Jews. We do not ignore others, but when we are afflicted with a personal problem, we focus on ourselves. For thiose encountering major disruption with the airline with additional cost, it is a problem that faces them. Addressing that problem does not mitigate the tzaar we have for our Ukranian brothers. Don’t lay claim to ignoring your own suffering because there are Yidden suffering elsewhere. That is probably not honest, and certainly arrogant.

  17. The replies of Sara Rifka, MoshiachNow and Git Meshiga are not only missing the point of a costumer but are extremely insensitive.
    Talk about Ahavas Yisrael.

  18. It is very narcissistic, to think that everything revolves around the FRUM community. It’s not only affecting the poor seminary and yeshiva students, who are leaving Israel at a time when gd tells the Jews to go to Israel. ( which leads me to a different question what are they learning and what there learning mean) ELAL is a Jewish airline, from my experience they do try their best. There are times, that can be frustrating because of stupidity. There are times when things are beyond their control There are times when it’s a little bit of both. If you would complain about ELAl when they have rescued Jews from all over the world or when they fly to places to bring aid to the needy, or when they go out of their way to ensure their passengers are placed for Shabbat. Maybe you would have a right to make such complaints. What I have learned from people like Reb Chaim, Reb Steinman, Reb Arye Levine. Is respect, humbleness, understanding, and compassion. Not rants! It’s not about throwing money and saying I support the airline. We are Jews and we want each other to succeed!!!

  19. we recently flew elal from tlv back to jfk. we received an email FIVE HOURS prior to the flight that the flight was delayed several hours. unfortunately, our plans had us in the airport anyway, and el al did all they could to accommodate all the travelers already in airport, including vouchers to various airport shops to purchase food and drink.

  20. If El Al had the monopoly on flights to TLV, then I would sympathize with you, but BH they do not. Many other airlines that are better managed and equipped fly this very same route, usually at more affordable prices. El Al’s indifference (at best) towards their customers is renowned and legendary. Sorry, but this wound is self-inflicted.

  21. I say “if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing!”
    Yes there are worse things in the world, war, sicknesses, death and others…but after spending 2 and a half hours on the phone trying to reach elal being told there’s nothing they can do, i can empathize with this writer.
    It reflects very poorly on a business that supposedly wants to stay in business.
    No compensation offered for a costly taxi home…
    To all the ppl bashing the letter writer I wonder if you were in fact in the same situation as this writer. The lack of compassion is astounding! I’m not even sure what you’re gaining by putting down another jew clearly very frustrated!

  22. Despite all comments to the contrary, I’ve flown and dealt many times over the years, and I’ve never had a major problem, B”H. These problems, in the long run, are not major. Suck it up.

  23. To Miriam:
    Maybe you should google in Hebrew, what happens to a Jewish person who says words that are not clean.
    When you see the results of Google, your hair might stand up.
    Unclean words is only the beginning.

  24. 100% right between me & family we went to isreal in the past 3 years about 25 times with the corano

    never with ELAL thanks god the worst airline of man kind

    Chaim Weinberger

  25. They are a disaster!!! I almost lost thousands of dollars bc of them and my elderly grandfather was forced to wake up at 3AM to try to change his ticket. I don’t care who owns the business there will be retribution for this and that is to boycott el al.

  26. El Al is the only airline that will act with Seichel when it comes to masks. One example, try flying Delta and your 3 year old will not put on a mask. Delta will turn around over the ocean and go right back to the original take-off location. El Al thank G-D has more brains.

  27. i was in isreal 6 times in the last 10 years, i was once with El Al, and 2 times with turkish airlines, the hate against hasidic jews you only see on El Al what a shame.

  28. To Git Meshige, that is such an important point you raise! In fact just yesterday as I was attempting to steal a wallet the man actually chased me down and demanded i return it! I told him, “how can you be worried about some money when the yidden are going through such tzores in golus!” He thought about and said, “you know, you are right! And gave me his car keys!

  29. Ive had many frustered customers over the last few weeks with this exact issue.
    It should be known that a representative of Elal told me that as of now the day flight to/from EWR will be canceled till October. Yet they just now took it down for sale for april and may but are selling them for June.

  30. We are looking forward to flying to NY… with El Al. We have found service is much improved since they were taken over. We are treated extremely well by the flight attendants, perhaps because WE are courteous, appreciative, respectful and we follow the rules.

    I suggest some of you whingers try doing the same. And get a decent travel agent like we have, because if there are issues a good agent will take care of it for you.

  31. Sara riifka,
    you should be blessed for living in israel but that has nothing to do with EL-AL’S TOTAL LACK OF SERVICE AND COMMUNICATION WITH THE PEOPLE WHO FILL THEIR PLANES UP
    yes its us from the usa that fly to israel who support el-al by flying with them and for you to weigh in on an issue which you arent affected by is totally ludicrous
    as a travel agent with many clients affected by the sudden changes and cancellations and the logistics involved i can tell you this letter is right on target and EL-AL NEEDS TO ADRESS THIS OR it will continue to lose money as in the past regardless of who now owns it

  32. Every person who ever travelled Domestic or Overseas understands there are interruptions that causes major problems to traveler and especially when you travel with a family with children.
    There are Weather delays Mechanical problems or Computer glitches.
    Its the attitude of the airlines how they handle the problem to comfort their customers not to get more upset after enduring all those delays.
    We understand that at last minute EWR did not open slot for EL AL and had to divert to JFK but the least the airline could of done is offer a Coach bus from JFK to EWR so those passengers wouldn’t have to pay the extra fee to get to EWR.
    Also Customer service need major overhaul and hire better trained staff and know how to handle a customer who needs to change their plans due to the changes of EL AL.
    I am sure the new owners understand the frustrations of being slammed all over the internet doesn’t help their company but wake up and make some major changes if you want travelers to Israel to make EL AL their first choice. United,Delta,American , and British airways and many others will be very happy to have your customers switch to them.

  33. ElAl reps always antagonist against frum Yiden. I don’t fly them for many years because they insisted that I take the leaf cover off my computer so they are sure there is no bomb between the leaf protecting the laptop. I told the thug run it through your scan or do swap test. They questioned me for 45 minutes and threatened to throw me off the plane. I travel for living and never been told to take the leaf out of laptop, threaten.
    I have been told that Delta’s Israeli crew are worse than gustapo. I never had a problem with them.
    You have to act like a goy to get good service.

    The 20 year old punks who run the ElAl security are the worst.

  34. It is a מצוה to patronize a Jewish company, hence that I happily always fly with El al when flying to Israel, and have no plans to move my business to נכרים.

  35. I booked a ticket for my daughter to fly home for Pesach 2 months ago. Her flight was scheduled to depart Sunday 1:30pm to Newark. That flight was cancelled and without consulting us, she was rebooked on a 10:30am flight to JFK. She is unable to make the earlier flight because she will be returning back to Seminary very late motzaei Shabbos and it would be impossible to get corona tested and at the airport in time unless she stays up all motzaei Shabbos. I tried having her rebooked on the next flight to Newark which would be midnight Sunday night. I spent 4 hours on the phone with different agents telling me that she could not be booked on the later flight because of a rule and that the next flight is overbooked even though it showed 20 available seats for sale on their website. Finally I was transferred to an agent that said she could be rebooked on the later flight for $1100 which I paid. It is wrong that they charged me an additional $1100 to make the change but it adds insult to injury that I had to spend 4 hours on the phone to even be offered that option. Bl”n I will never book El Al again.

  36. Unfortunately everyone being said here is true and it all stems from the Israeli culture of not giving a crap about customer service.
    Where else in the world do you go to a supermarket or bank and the cashiers and tellers are sitting down when they check us out.
    After watching The Tinder Swindler, I have lost all respect for the Israeli culture!!!!

  37. Once on this topic I have a story. My chavrusa has a cousin that went of the derech, lo aleinu. She became a stewardess on ElAl. She told him that when elal wants to punish a stewardess they put them on the Tel Aviv-JFK route. She said the hardest flights are the london and New York flights since it’s all full of frum ppl. So basically they come on board before the flight with this type of attitude, no wonder the service stinks. Many times they make us sit down while making a minyan. So this one time we started a minyan and the steward came by and took out his talis and tefilin bag put on a yarmulke and joined the minyan. After he finished shmoneh esrei he put away his tefilin and yarlmuka, then started making everyone sit down. We all laughed in his face.
    Not sure what everyone is crying about. If you want to save money so don’t cry that they treat you like your in low class unless you sit in business class. Otherwise pay more and fly with another airline. If your anyways stuck flying with them don’t look Frum, you’ll see a big change in their attitude.

  38. “Insanity Is Out Of Control”

    Really now. Compared to how the smart people who run things managed Covid, or how they are now reinacting “how to start a world war” in Ukraine, this seems more like bad management than a mental health issue.

  39. ELAL is known for having the worst customer service. On my flight back from Israel I had around 4 or 5 pounds overweight. They told me it would be $75 or I wouldnt get on the plane. I didnt have that type of extra cash and asked the supervisor if they can reduce the price or let me go. Not only he didnt reduce it he called the other desk and told the agent in Hebrew (not knowing i fully understood) not to let me on the flight for less than $300 in baggage fees. At that point I blew a fuse and started yelling at him (the only language they understand) until he shrunk back in fear and called her immediately saying ok $75(yes USD). The fact that they think they can treat American citizens or even Israeli citizens however they’d like is disgraceful especially when a person has a flight to catch and they resort to highway robbery tactics. What a shame that they take advantage of Yidden who would like to support them and fly with other Yidden. Suddenly thats a privilege you have to pay a fortune for.