Cheap Flights to Tel Aviv – Frequently Asked Questions

Tel Aviv Skyline

 

 

Finding Cheap Flights to Tel Aviv

 

What airlines fly to Tel Aviv?

Many airlines fly to Tel Aviv from pretty much all over the world. Budget choices from Europe include low cost airlines such as Easyjet, Ryanair, Wizz Air, Vueling, and more. Note that these can be prone to delays and cancellations, though most airlines are nowadays.

Fancier choices include Swiss, Virgin, Lufthansa, etc., while from north America you can fly with Delta, United, American Airlines, and possibly others.

Israel’s national airline is the notorious El Al, which flies to and from pretty much anywhere Israelis are allowed to go to.

Should I use flight aggregators to book Tel Aviv flights?

This page used to recommend Skyscanner.net as a good resource for cheap flights to Tel Aviv, but after a really bad experience I personally had after booking a flight I found on their site through their parent company, trip.com, I can no longer recommend it for booking. In the current climate of flight cancellations, strikes and disruptions, you should try to always book flights directly with the airlines if you can afford it. These sites are good for searching flights and seeing what’s available, so you can still use them for that. For more flight booking tips and how to avoid holiday disruptions, you can read the post I wrote in my other blog, here.

Should I fly with El Al?

El Al is not much loved by the Israeli public, though it’s popular with people who want a 100% Kosher plane, or added security when flying. Their food, customer service, and entertainment options are pretty poor, and security is very very strict. Expect to get to the airport very early (both in Israel and wherever it is you’re flying from) to pass the extra security checks. You can actually miss your flight to Israel if you are late to the airport, as the dedicated El Al security staff leave at some point, and without them you won’t be allowed on the plane. Israel, and especially El Al, use profiling for security. If you match a profile that may be a higher security risk (Middle Eastern or Muslim, backpacker, someone who has visited a country that’s hostile to Israel, etc.), then you will most likely not enjoy the security checks. On top of this, El Al flights are usually not the cheapest, and are usually comparable with much nicer airlines. If you can get a better flight, I recommend you do.

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Tips for flying to / from Israel

What are the Covid entry requirements in Tel Aviv / Israel right now?

An explanation of the current covid entry requirements in English can be found on the official Israeli government site here. This is the most up to date resource. It’s not always 100% up to date because the Israeli government takes time to translate stuff into English and if things are changing fast, that can be an issue, but now the world has decided we have to learn to live with covid, things are not changing as fast.

What is security like at TLV Airport?

TLV airport catSecurity is tight, for obvious reasons, especially if you’re flying with El Al (see above). If you flew in with a non-Israeli airline, you’ll find security at Ben Gurion airport much stricter. Israel is high risk and security want to make sure nobody is about to get a bomb or a weapon on a plane, which is something pretty much all of us want. However, they’re not always friendly or nice, especially if they’ve profiled you as potential high risk. Arrive at least three hours early. If you match any of the profiles listed above in the El Al section, you might even want to arrive earlier than that.

How many terminals are at Ben Gurion airport?

There are three terminals at Ben Gurion airport. Terminal 1 and Terminal 3 are used for passenger flights, though Terminal 1 is nowadays only used for domestic flights. Your international flight will likely arrive or leave from the big, fancy Terminal 3, which is where the train station is. If you need to get to Terminal 1 for some reason, there is a free shuttle bus outside the terminal (just past the taxis) that will take you there. It runs every 15 minutes.

How far is Ben Gurion Airport from Tel Aviv?

Ben Gurion airport is conveniently close to Tel Aviv – around 22km away. It only takes around 15 minutes on the train to get to central Tel Aviv, and the journey is very quick in a car or a taxi when there’s no traffic. However, the roads get very busy during rush hour, so a car journey then can take 40 minutes to an hour (or longer, if things are really bad!).

What are the transport options at Ben Gurion airport?

Unless you’re planning on renting a car at the airport (watch out for the extra fee for picking up / returning the car to the airport, though!), you’ll be relying on either the train or a private taxi to get to Tel Aviv. There are shared taxis to Jerusalem and Haifa, but not to Tel Aviv. The train is fast and comfortable, but it doesn’t run on the Sabbath (Friday afternoon to Saturday evening) or most Jewish holidays. There are trains 24 hours a day apart from that, but at night the gaps are long and the train only stops at Savidor (Merkaz / Centre) station in Tel Aviv, leaving out the rest of the stations. You can take a taxi from outside the station in Tel Aviv 24 hours a day.

If you land on a Friday night, Saturday daytime, or a Jewish holiday, your only choice is to rent a car or take a taxi into town. Obviously, taxis are also useful at other times. Avoid them at Rush hour, though, and opt for the train instead if you can. You’ll get there much quicker.

How can I get a taxi at Ben Gurion airport?

There used to be only limited options for Taxis between Tel Aviv and the airport. Now you can take any taxi to and from the airport, rather than use one particular company. You can also order a taxi to and from the airport using the free Gett mobile app or Uber. Unlike in other countries, you’ll still get a licensed taxi, as that’s a legal requirement in Israel, but you can conveniently pay with the app, which I personally prefer.

Do not get into unregistered taxis at the airport. Either book one with an app or get one from the official taxi stand. There are always drivers hanging around asking if you need a taxi, but just decline politely and keep going. Most of them are fine, but when things go wrong, they generally go wrong with one of these.

Look out for a little flag on top of the taxi. This signifies the driver is either part of a registered taxi company or is registered with an app like Gett or one of the other local taxi apps where each ride is tracked. If you don’t see a flag, don’t get in the cab.

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Other things to know before flying to and from Tel Aviv / Ben Gurion Airport

Can I bring liquids on flights from Ben Gurion Airport?

Israeli security is tight, yes, but you can bring your own food and liquids from home onto the flight in Israel. Israelis tend to bring their own food from home to take on budget flights, as the airport choices are limited and overpriced. You can also bring liquid souvenirs with you (alcohol not from the Duty Free / olive oil, etc.) in your hand luggage from Israel, as long as you’re flying directly home or not going through an airport that’ll make you go through security again.

Is there free Wi-Fi in Ben Gurion Airport?

Ben Gurion / TLV Airport has unlimited free Wi-Fi. So does the train station and even the trains themselves. There are plenty of sockets to charge your devices, too.  If possible, avoid buying a local SIM / Phone plan at the airport and use Wi-Fi instead. Buying a local SIM at a store in Tel Aviv itself is significantly cheaper.

I’ve heard flights to Israel can be very noisy, is there anything I can do to get a better experience?

Low cost flights to Israel (and El Al flights) are notoriously busy, loud, and full of badly behaved people (and children). If you hate screaming, badly behaved children on flights, I suggest you take a flight that involves being in the air sometime during the Sabbath or another religious Jewish holiday. It won’t guarantee a quiet flight, but it’ll greatly improve your chances.

Alternatively, flying with a more expensive airline will cut down some of this mess too. If you fly with one of those on a Sabbath, you’ll probably have a pretty good experience.

Why do Israelis clap when the plane lands?

Israelis clap (and sometimes cheer) when the plane they are on touches the ground. This is to thank the pilot for doing his or her job properly and not killing them in a flaming plane crash. I’ve read somewhere that this is because people are “happy to return to their homeland”, but let me tell you, most Israelis never are. They are, however, happy to have not died on the plane. You’ll hear a lot of clapping and cheering if the flight was particularly bouncy.

Some Israelis are embarrassed by this and think it’s a bit primitive or something, but I actually think it’s a nice, sweet thing to do. Any landing I can walk away from is worth some applause as far as I’m concerned, and clapping is far better than most stuff Israelis do on flights.

 

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