Flying to Israel with Continental vs. US Airways

Since 1994 I’ve traveled over 100 transatlantic flights, mostly between the USA and Israel.  I am sharing my experiences here about different airlines that travel to and from Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv.

In this article we’ll focus on Continental Airlines who is merging with United Airlines in 2011, with it’s hub in Newark, New Jersey, and US Airways, which flies out of its Philadelphia hub.  Both airlines are competent and match evenly on features.  Each offers daily flights and adds flights during busy seasons.

Coach Travel Flying Comparison Chart

Continental / United US Airways
Aircraft Boeing 777 Airbus A330-300
Hub in USA Newark Philadelphia
Coach Seat Configuration 3 – 3 – 3 2 – 4 – 2
Kosher food rating B

Dinner, mid flight sandwich, and light breakfast served

B

Dinner and light breakfast served

Coach Seat Features head rests, electric plug for every two seats Leather, arm rests lift up, USB power connector at every seat
Entertainment Personal Touch screen, hundreds of movies (over 200), dozens of TV shows, music, and games. Personal touch screen, dozens of movies, tv shows, games (not free), music on demand
Bathrooms / Lavatories 6 in coach 4 in coach, no standing area to wait in line, very cramped
Galley drinks, snacks, after meal service drinks after meal service, snacks in galley.
Hub Airport Newark is a big airport, security lines are long, shopping is decent Philadelphia is a medium size airport, security lines are shorter, no body scan machine yet as of Jan 2011.
Cabin Crew Plentiful, pleasant, and efficient, Hebrew speaker always on staff. Nice crew
Advantages Bigger plane, more room to stretch in the cabin on a long flight. Great entertainment system. Good connections with Continental / United to anywhere in USA from Newark. 2 seats on window vs 3 on Continental, Philly is an easier airport to navigate. Great for avoiding New York.
Disadvantages Newark Airport. 3 seats on window. Tougher to get in and out. Seat pitch is less than on 747. make sure to bring a neck pillow. Smaller plane, cabin crew takes seats near lavatories, absolutely no room to stretch. You are stuck in your seat the entire flight.
Frequent Flyer One Pass Star Alliance. Easy to book award travel online. Many seats are blocked out, though. Continental has a local office in Tel Aviv. Offers 25,000 miles if you sign up and take their credit card. Award travel easy to book online generally with similar miles needed as continental (25,000 for domestic round trip).
Price Tends to be as pricey as El Al Usually less expensive than Continental
Overall Score B+ B

Please share with us your experiences.

3 thoughts on “Flying to Israel with Continental vs. US Airways”

  1. i’ve flown many times to israel and everything else being equal, i’ll take the plane with more toilets and standing area.

  2. While I cannot speak to the layout, comfort or courtesy aboard United’s 777’s, I can personally attest to all three aboard Continential’s 777’s between Newark and Tel Aviv. Having made the trip 10 times over the past 5 or 6 years, in both their Business/First and Coach cabins, I can tell you that Continental goes above and beyond in every way. I was offered & served enough food to feed myself and a seatmate, the food was well prepared, attractive and tasty. Additionally, I found the Flight Attendants to be knowledgable, friendly, and efficient. Add to it that Continental had several language speakers aboard each flight, making communication in either English or Hebrew very easy.

    For me the choice is clear; Continental all the way!

  3. Hi,

    I would like a price offer for a group of 30 adults from the US (from Houston, Texas) who would like to fly to Israel with Continental Airlines.
    Flying Date: 15 April 2012.
    Back to the US: 29 April 2012.

    Thanking you in advance,

    Amnon Snir

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