El Al To Increase Seating Density Onboard Boeing 777 Fleet

Israel’s El Al is planning to increase the seating density onboard their Boeing 777 fleet. This increase in seats is part of a cabin overhaul across the El Al 777 fleet that will see new interiors for economy, premium economy and business.

El Al
A Boeing 777-200ER in El Al livery comes into land. Photo: Aero Icarus via Wikimedia

Who is El Al?

El Al is the flag carrier of Israel, they have a fleet of 43 aircraft (ranging from 747s and new 787-9 Dreamliners) flying to 60 destinations. They were also the airline to set the world record for most people on board an aircraft ever at 1,088 passengers. 

There are some unique issues, however, that the airline faces on the world stage. Because the country is not on great terms with its neighbors, El Al is actually denied permission to fly over some countries’ airspace (such as Saudi Arabia).

El al
El Al flies to 60 international destinations but lacks direct flights to many of its neighbor countries. Photo: El Al

Additionally, El Al has been the target of various terrorist activities and thus is the only airline in the world to actually have rocket countermeasures on board every one of its aircraft. They have special detection radars that can track rocket targeting computers and actually evade them if they decide to launch.

Their obsession with security does not stop there, with every passenger being personally interviewed by security agents prior to boarding and their baggage being passed through a ‘decompression chamber’, simulating the pressures on board an aircraft in flight (and hopefully triggering anything that was supposed to go off).

What are the details of the upgrades?

With a fleet of 11 new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners (with one more to be delivered) and four 787-8s to land from November this year onwards, El Al has decided to upgrade the rest of their aircraft interiors. As reported initially by Flight Global, this will effectively increase its capacity on its long haul workhorse, the Boeing 777.

Noticing that they have been losing market share to other carriers who can provide ‘significantly more capacity‘ such as Air India (who can also fly over the Saudi Araba airspace as mentioned above), El Al has taken the opportunity to densify their economy classes.

There are six Boeing 777-200ERs in the El Al fleet which will see the business class overhauled to match the new offering found on the Boeing 787-9s, as well as a new premium economy seats (replacing economy plus). But the biggest change to be found will be the densification of the 777-200ER economy section.

El Al
The current 777-200 seat map. Photo: El Al

The aircraft currently has 204 normal economy seats (and 34 extra-legroom economy seats) but will move to accomodate 269 with the new configuration. This may mean the carrier will shrink the legroom room from 33 inches to 31 to allow for the extra seats. Or it is possible that El Al will increase the seats per row from 9 to 10, like United did with their 777-200s back in 2017 to reach 269 economy passengers?

It is unclear what will happen to the six first-class seats at the front of the plane, but likely they will be swapped out for the new ‘business-first’ featured on the 787-9s.

Overall, these upgrades to the business class cabin are a blessing for those who travel regularly on the career, but the increase in density for those at the back of the plane might make some choose another carrier.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments.