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El Al is excited about its future — really excited, thanks to its new Dreamliner aircraft. Israel’s flag-carrier airline is known for the subpar premium cabins on its 747, 767 and 777 widebodies, but the addition of the Boeing 787 is a huge upgrade for El Al and its passengers. The new aircraft debuted Tuesday on the airline’s flagship route to New York and El Al showed off the jet with a ceremony for the media.

The first 787-9 in El Al service, to be followed by 14 more including the shorter 787-8 model, is on flight LY28 from Newark (EWR)  to Tel Aviv (TLV) on Tuesday afternoon and we are on board.

The airline is touting its new jet as the way to stop the loss of business travelers who have been abandoning El Al in favor of airlines with up-to-date premium cabin offerings. In August, it reported a 53% drop in net profit in the second quarter of 2017 and the Dreamliner’s new business cabin may be a way to regain market share on long-haul flights to the US and Asia.

On Tuesday, El Al certainly showed that it thinks the 787 is cause for celebration: people at the EWR festivities were greeted by balloons and a 787 model.

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Attendees were then invited to the Art & Lounge lounge, closed to other passengers for the duration of the one-hour event. Inside the lounge, there was plenty of fanfare for the Dreamliner and even foam 747s for attendees to take. Pretty nostalgic, as El Al plans to replace those aircraft with its new fleet of incoming Dreamliners. They’re not exactly comparable, with the 747-400 seating over 100 people more than the 787-9, but El Al will make up for that loss of capacity by fielding a bigger fleet.

Over time, the 787s will replace the aging 747 and 767 aircraft on El Al’s medium- and long-range destinations, such as New York, Boston, Toronto, Beijing, Mumbai, Johannesburg and others.

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Each attendee got a gift pouch showing once again that El Al is pretty jazzed about the Dreamliner.

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At Gate 62, there was more champagne and even a Dreamliner cake waiting.

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El Al took delivery of its first Dreamliner in August. Prior to this transatlantic service to Newark, it used the Dreamliner between TLV and Paris (CDG) and London (LHR).

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In all, the 787-9 features 282 seats in a three-class configuration: business, premium economy and economy.

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The highlight of the aircraft — especially considering El Al’s history of subpar premium-class options — is the business-class cabin with 32 lie-flat seats, arranged in a 1-2-1 configuration.

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Based on the arrangement and look of the cabin, it’s an awful lot like United’s Polaris cabin.

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Each seat has direct aisle access, something that was severely lacking in El Al’s older wide-bodies. All of its 777, 747 and 767 aircraft feature at least 2-2-2 seating configurations in business, with some of its older 747 variants featuring 2-3-2.

Each of the business-class seats is 21 inches wide, which is comparable to the width of premium-class seats that you’ll find on other Dreamliners.

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A huge step up for El Al is that it’ll now offer lie-flat seats in business class, for the first time. When in its fully flat position, the bed measures 78 inches long — about 6’5″.

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After the business class cabin, you’ll run into the premium economy cabin. Again, like lie-flat seats in business class, premium economy is an entirely new product for El Al.

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The premium economy cabin features 28 seats arranged in a 2-3-2 configuration. Each has 38 inches of pitch and is 19 inches wide. Again, this is on par with what you’ll find in other premium economy products on Dreamliner aircraft.

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The economy cabin is comprised of 222 seats in a 3-3-3 configuration.

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Each seat features 31 inches of pitch and is 17 inches wide, which, again, is about on par with other Dreamliner economy products with other carriers.

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Overall, the Dreamliner is a huge step up for El Al passengers. Stay tuned for more coverage and details about the new aircraft, including a full review of the inaugural transatlantic flight.

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