Israeli Flagship Carrier El Al Starts Serving Sandwiches, Not Meals, on Some Flights

The lighter fare, being prepared by Israeli cafe chain Arcafe, is being offered by the airline in an attempt to reduce costs

An El Al Boeing 787 Dreamliner jet landing at the Ben-Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv.
Amir Cohen/ REUTERS

In an experimental program, travelers on some El Al Airlines routes to Europe are being offered a sandwich and salad instead of a full meal as the airline seeks to reduce costs.

The new, lighter fare, which is being prepared by the Israeli café chain Arcafe, began on some 30 flights over the weekend. Airline industry sources said Israel’s flagship carrier is joining the global trend of offering light meals on shorter routes.

>> Dreamliner nightmare: Is El Al heading toward a Teva-style crash?

The sandwich-and-salad meals come after El Al canceled its low-cost Up service earlier this year and instead introduced a three-tier choice of airfares and services on its ordinary flights to Europe. Its “lite” tier offers service and fares similar to low-cost airlines, including no free check-in. Its “classic” tier offers terms similar to ordinary flights and its “flex” tier is similar to business class.

Serving meals on trays is much more labor intensive than handing out box lunches, noted one source in the Israeli aviation industry. As airfares have fallen, a result of the Open Skies reform that has introduced more competition, airfares no longer cover the cost of a full meal.
One source said, however, that he was concerned people buying the classic and flex tickets would be less willing to settle for anything short of a full meal.