What a difference a year can make!
I remember being on an ELAL nonstop ORD-TLV flight. At the time I did not fully appreciate how unique it was to have a nonstop route to Israel. We live in Chicago (centrally located in the US), which is a huge travel advantage. United Airline’s main hub is in Chicago, we can go almost anywhere in the world non stop other than Israel. Fortunately for us Chicagoans ELAL made a nonstop route ORD-TLV possible. I never thought much about it. It was cancelled during the first intifada, and never resumed. We were in shock. Often you do not fully appreciate something until it is gone…
Spring of 2019, I along with many other Chicago Zionists cheered when ELAL announced the relaunching of the nonstop route ORD-TLV. I wrote a BLOG about “the coveted route” for TOI (Times of Israel) thanking ELAL. I asked the people of Chicago to support ELAL and poked fun at United for not flying that route as well.
November of 2019 my husband and I attended a dinner hosted by ELAL celebrating the relaunch of “the coveted route” beginning Spring/March of 2020. They gave away adorable swag, toy airplanes with the logo ELAL-Chicago on it. There was much excitement in the air, it was palpable. A true miracle. Open a frequent flier account with ELAL absolutely!
As March approached I called my travel agent and asked her to check on nonstop flights to Israel. I printed out a flight itinerary and gasped. It read ELAL nonstop ORD-TLV. I was in our second home in Jerusalem, about to end my trip flying via Washington back to Chicago with United thinking about purchasing the ticket back to Israel on ELAL and first heard the word Covid. I hesitated and decided to wait a few weeks and see what Covid was all about.
Unfortunately for ELAL (and the rest of the airline industry) COVID hit, and as bad luck would have it just as the launch was to begin. My flight along with our “coveted route” was cancelled. We waited twenty years for this route, we finally had it then poof! Now ELAL is uncertain as to it’s future. My hope/prayer is ELAL will survive this insane pandemic and continue on as the only National Israeli airline.
The crazy part about a crisis…
sometimes there are silver linings.
Many of us Chicagoans tried for years to get United to launch” the coveted route”. In my TOI article I wrote about why United should launch the route, stating it was in their best business interest. It seemed obvious. We had one of the most passionate Zionist communities in the world, sending volumes of people on missions and educational tours/programs to Israel, we still do. Chicago was United’s main hub, and centrally located, ideal for business travel.
Some of us were told by United insiders that if another carrier launched “the route” United would consider launching a nonstop ORD-TLV route as well (apparently United likes competition). As fate would have it that is exactly what happened. ELAL planned to relaunch the route, then due to Covid had to cancel it. United jumped in and stole ELAL’s thunder. United kept their word. Beginning September 2020 United will launch “the coveted route”. I hope the Zionist Chicago community supports United nonstop flights ORD-TLV.
I believe in miracles. I have witnessed many in my lifetime…
- Built a home in Jerusalem (had a blast doing it)
- The US embassy relocated to Jerusalem, acknowledging Jerusalem as the capital!
- US pulled out of the Iran deal (creating a safer Middle East and world)
- United launching nonstop flights ORD-TLV
This is a GAME CHANGER, we hope to go more often…Todah rabah (thank you) United! Todah rabah ELAL, we could not have done it with out you. Let’s pray you both fly the route, and fill many planes.