American Airlines is launching Miami – Tel Aviv in June. This is a route I’ve been expecting ever since they announced the end of their frequent flyer partnership with El Al in 2014.
The new service will operate three days a week with a Boeing 777-200.
- Miami-Tel Aviv, 8:00pm – 3:10pm+1, Wednesday/Friday/Sunday
- Tel Aviv – Miami, 11:55pm – 6:25am, Monday/Thursday/Saturday
El Al has had the route to themselves since 2017, but they do not fly on the Sabbath. American Airlines will fly on Friday night, departing at 8 p.m. (after sundown!) landing Saturday afternoon in Israel.
American’s return service won’t operate on the Sabbath, but they’ll have Friday night departures all to themselves. While the Jewish observant customers aren’t going to take Friday night flights, many others might. (And American’s first Tel Aviv route announcement focused on Dallas Fort-Worth, where they’d pick up more Christian missionary business from the middle of the country than Jews heading to Israel in any case.)
- They wanted to maximize their time away from work, leaving on Friday evening (after work) and returning on Sunday a a week later.
- They wanted their Israeli experience to ‘start right away’ so they insisted they’d only fly El Al.
I offered them four business class award seats connecting on Lufthansa, or they could choose form a couple of other carriers as well. They wouldn’t go for it. In the end I told them there were many things I could accomplish with points, but cause El Al to fly on the Sabbath wasn’t one of them. El Al has even diverted to avoid flying on Shabat.
American is only operating its Miami – Tel Aviv service three days a way and they’ve chosen to make one of those days flights a Friday night departure. They’re sacrificing the market of observant Jews for others, meanwhile gaining exclusivity over travel that evening. The long-held strategy of legacy US Airways management has been a Wee Willie Keeler approach to route planning: fly where they ain’t.
American Airlines Boeing 777-200 ‘Concept D’ Business Class
United Airlines, for its part, schedules Newark and San Francisco service daily including Shabat, and United’s Chicago schedule is less than daily with a 6:45pm Friday evening departure as well. Delta, too, flies daily to Tel Aviv.