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Delta doubles down on Tel Aviv with second flight sporting snazzy new cabins

Aug. 26, 2020
5 min read
Delta doubles down on Tel Aviv with second flight sporting snazzy new cabins
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The competition for the Tel Aviv market is heating up.

With much of the world closed to Americans, U.S. airlines are taking a measured approach to resuming long-haul flying. Some flights are profitable with cargo alone, but there's not enough demand to warrant flying as many routes during the pandemic.

However, there's one transatlantic market that isn't showing any signs of cooling down, and that's Israel. Delta is the latest carrier to make some exciting updates to its Tel Aviv flying.

Starting on Jan. 15, 2021, the Atlanta-based carrier will fly one of its newest jets — the Airbus A330-900neo — from JFK to Tel Aviv, as confirmed by Cirium, an aviation data and analytics company. And that's a big deal because it means that Delta will finally bring its top-notch onboard experience to the market.

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Delta's Airbus A330-900neo features 281 seats across three cabins: business, premium economy and coach. The 29-seat biz cabin is outfitted with Delta One Suites, offering a private, enclosed suite with plenty of space to sleep, eat and work.

Delta One Suites on the Airbus A330-900neo (Photo by Darren Murph/The Points Guy)

Premium Select is Delta's take on premium economy — and this will be the airline's first time offering the cabin to Tel Aviv. Expect an experience similar to domestic first class in one of the 28 recliner seats.

Premium Select on the Airbus A330-900neo (Photo by Darren Murph/The Points Guy)

The A330-900's coach cabin is split between 56 seats in the extra-legroom Comfort+ section and 168 standard Main Cabin seats.

The aircraft also features a new wireless in-flight entertainment system developed internally by Delta, as well as high-speed 2Ku Wi-Fi connectivity.

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Delta has long offered service between New York and Tel Aviv, most recently with the Airbus A330-300. That jet is an older variant of the A330 family and doesn't sport a premium economy cabin. Plus, the biz seats on the A330-300 are simply standard reverse herringbone ones — not Delta One Suites.

Delta One on the Airbus A330-300 (Photo by Christian Kramer/The Points Guy)

The upgauge isn't the only change Delta is making to its Tel Aviv flying. As of Dec. 12, the carrier will add a second daily frequency between JFK and Tel Aviv, per Cirium data. Between Dec. 12 and Jan. 15, both flights will be operated by the older Airbus A330-300. But starting Jan. 15, the following frequency will sport the new cabins on the Airbus A330-900neo:

  • DL 234 JFK - TLV 11:39 p.m. - 5:10 p.m. (the next day)
  • DL 235 TLV - JFK 11:55 p.m. - 5:25 a.m. (the next day)

Of course, the schedule is subject to change — especially as coronavirus-related travel restrictions are extended. The new flight is currently loaded in the schedule and ready to book, but there's limited award availability, unfortunately.

For now, most Americans aren't allowed to visit Israel. Only pre-registered students, as well as family members celebrating certain life cycle events, are allowed to enter with a mandatory 14-day quarantine. Israeli citizens are allowed to enter with a mandatory quarantine too. To stay abreast of Israel's reopening, be sure to follow our country-by-country guide to reopening.

Related: Review of Delta One Suites on the A330-900neo

Delta's move is the latest update U.S. airlines have made to their Tel Aviv flights. Earlier this summer, United announced a new route to Tel Aviv from its Chicago hub. The three weekly Chicago O'Hare (ORD) flights join United's existing service from Newark (EWR), San Francisco (SFO) and Washington (IAD).

United's Chicago-to-Tel Aviv flight follows years of expansion in the Tel Aviv market. In addition to twice-daily service from its Newark hub, United launched thrice-weekly San Francisco-to-Tel Aviv flights in March 2016. United followed with moves that suggest the flights were profitable, quickly upgrading to daily service later that same year. (The carrier also upgauged the aircraft from a Boeing 787-9 to a brand-new Boeing 777-300ER.)

United's Polaris cabin to Israel (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Then last year, United started serving Tel Aviv from the nation’s capital. The Washington Dulles flight was the carrier’s fourth route to the country.

Related: Why United’s plan to fly 23 weekly flights to Israel isn’t as surprising as it seems

American Airlines also plans to reenter the Tel Aviv market in 2021. As part of its new strategic alliance with JetBlue, AA announced that it'll start flying to Tel Aviv from JFK next summer and from Dallas/Fort Worth that winter. This will be the first time American has flown to Israel since it suspended its Philadelphia to Tel Aviv route in 2016. It's not yet clear what plane AA will fly to Tel Aviv.

All this expansion comes at a time when Israel's national airline, El Al, is in trouble. The carrier has effectively "closed" due to the pandemic. Before the coronavirus, El Al was expanding stateside with service to Chicago, Las Vegas and Orlando (in addition to existing flights to Boston, JFK, Los Angeles, Miami, Newark and San Francisco).

Now, with El Al grounded for the foreseeable future, the U.S. carriers are trying to assert their position as the dominant player to Tel Aviv. United offers the most seats of the "Big 3," but with Delta's latest move, loyalists will now have a second daily frequency outfitted with the best seats the carrier offers.

Featured image by A Delta A330-900 takes off. (Photo courtesy of Airbus)

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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
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    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
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Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

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Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees