El Al Excluding Arab Citizens From New At-home Check-in Service, NGO Charges

Airline doesn’t deny charge about arrangement, which includes security inspection.

An El Al plane on the tarmac at Tel Aviv's Ben-Gurion International Airport.
Daniel Bar-On

El Al is excluding Israeli Arabs from its new at-home check-in service, which includes at-home security inspections, according to the civil rights organization Yedid.

David Bachar

Yedid’s deputy director general, Ran Melamed, told Haaretz on Thursday that he asked El Al for information as to “whether the new security check and check-in service was available in Arab communities, such as Kafr Qasem, Abu Ghosh and Jaljulya, and whether the service was available in other languages, for example, Arabic.”

Melamed said the answer he received was that all details on the subject of pre-flight service, including the geographical range for provision of the service, are in the new link to the service. However, Melamed said that this link stated as of Wednesday, “In this preliminary period the service will be given between Hadera in the north, Gedera in the south and Jerusalem in the east.”

Melamed said, “As I suspected, this is a bluff by the Israeli airline. A real answer would have been an answer that directly presents the names of the communities mentioned in my question. A real answer would have simply been to say yes. I have no doubt that the company does not intend to provide the service to Arab communities within the area it defined in its answer.”

According to Melamed, “This is clearly racism and I expect El Al’s CEO to give a real and precise response. If the airline does not intend to provide the service to all communities, Jewish and Arab, I call on the tourism minister and the chairman of the Knesset Economic Committee to summon El Al’s management for an emergency discussion.” Melamed added that if, after such a discussion, proper answers are not given, it should be heavily fined and the state should consider not allowing it to offer the service.

El Al response doesn't address claim

El Al said in response: “The new service will begin operation on August 2, as published. At its preliminary stage, the service will operate between Hadera in the north and Gedera in the south and Jerusalem and its surroundings in the east. The service is given by the company Premium Check and not independently by El Al, and operates in English and Hebrew, for people with all types of passports on flights taking off from Israel.”

A spokesman for El Al said the service would be offered at a fee of 499 shekels (about $131), for up to five passengers and five pieces of luggage at a single location. The service includes check-in and security check.

The service opened for customers to order beginning July 22.

El Al CEO David Maimon said: “El Al is committed to giving its customers comprehensive service and works toward constant improvement of the service, in the framework of which recipients of the service will undergo the security check at their home, receive their boarding passes at home and will be able to go straight to passport control, only an hour and a half before the flight.” Maimon said if extra fees are required for excess baggage, payment is also made at the client’s home.

The service is given for flights on El Al and Up, but not on El Al code-sharing flights.