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El Al is set to continue its North American expansion in 2020 when the airline launches nonstop flights between Tel Aviv (TLV) and Chicago’s O-Hare (ORD) airport. While details are still very limited, Israeli business publication Globes has confirmed the new service.
This isn’t the first time El Al has served the area. The airline ended service in 2007, leaving the city without a direct connection to Israel. With an estimated 291,000 Jewish residents, Chicago boasts a larger Jewish population than most Israeli cities. Chicago also boasts one of the largest economies in the United States. Now, after a 13-year drought, nonstop flights to Israel will finally return to Chicago.
The service will be made possible by El Al’s growing fleet of modern widebody aircraft. The airline has already received eight of 16 Boeing 787s ordered, with an additional four Boeing 787-9s and four Boeing 787-8s yet to be delivered. The larger Boeing 787s, the 787-9, will allow the airline to not only expand but also retire El Al’s remaining four Boeing 747s.
In recent years, El Al has added nonstop flights from Tel Aviv to Miami (MIA) and announced new service to Las Vegas (LAS) and Orlando (MCO). The Boeing 787 has played an integral role in El Al’s recent expansion thanks to the aircraft’s fuel efficiency.
While El Al has yet to confirm what aircraft type will be used on its new Chicago flights, Globes has alluded to the Boeing 787 as the preferred aircraft for the route. With just six Boeing 777-200 aircraft serving cities like New York and Beijing, the 787 would appear to be the strongest contender for the airline’s new Chicago service. El Al’s Boeing 787s feature the airline’s newest and most modern cabins, with lie-flat seats in business class and Wi-Fi available to all passengers at no cost.
El Al is not a member of any major airline alliance, however, maintains codeshare flights with a variety of major carriers including JetBlue and American. If you’re looking to use points or miles for El Al’s new service, your only option for the time being is transferring American Express Membership Rewards points to El Al’s Matmid frequent flyer program. The current transfer ratio isn’t very appealing, with 1,000 MR points equal to a mere 20 Matmid points. That means a business class award redemption will cost you 200,000 Membership Rewards points.
El Al’s Chicago flights are not yet available for purchase as a date has not been set for the first flights.
H/T: Dan’s Deals
Image by Emily McNutt / The Points Guy
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