You’re going to Israel anyway. Might as well start the experience of Israel at the check-in line, the gate, the plane ride.
Just don’t plan to go on Friday evening or Saturday. El Al does not fly on Shabbat or on Jewish holiday days. Or serve non-Kosher food. Though it does serve additionally wrapped extra (glatt) Kosher meals and vegetarian options.
Israel’s national, though since 2004, privately owned airline has two slogans: one for the Israeli market and one for everyone else. The Hebrew slogan is הכי בבית בעולם literally, the most at home in the world. El Al translates this as “your home away from home.” The English language slogan is: “It’s not just an airline; it’s Israel.”
When Jews immigrate to Israel, it is called making aliyah. Going up. But it is also called coming home.
The most “at home” in the world and “it’s Israel” are really the same slogan.
There is something qualitatively different about this plane ride. Is it the greater noise level? Or that people seem to already know each other, or act as if they do, when they get on the plane? Is it that the food is not like airplane food: the salads cold, the entrees hot, and the bread fresh? Perhaps it is the haredim? They’ve had some bad press on El Al lately but more routinely it might be the everyday-ness of a minyan at the back of the plane. Or is it all that standing in the aisles and visiting? Maybe it really is the food.
Or maybe it is the fact that El Al is the world’s safest airline.
So you can relax in a way you haven’t relaxed during all your travel preparations, even though you’re now flying to the Middle East from, for example, Southern California -- 14 ½ hours non-stop from Los Angeles.
Of course, this safety conflicts with what you’ve been reading in the news because – truth in advertising -- (It’s not just an airline) it’s Israel.