El Al’s King David Lounge is probably the best business class lounge at Ben Gurion Airport. Unfortunately, that’s not saying much.
Though it’s slightly less crowded and better catered than other lounges in the main terminal, this lounge is poorly maintained, threadbare, and lacks basic amenities like a bar. Ultimately, it just doesn’t measure up to what I’d expect from the flagship lounge of a country’s flag carrier airline.
The King David Lounge is accessible to the following passengers:
- Business class ticketholders on an El Al flight
- Platinum or “Top Platinum” status Matmid members flying on an El Al or non-El Al flight
- Gold status Matmid members flying on an El Al flight
- Silver status holders part of the $500 per year King David Club and are flying on an El Al flight
All lounge guests must be on a flight departing Terminal 3 and can only enter the lounge within three hours of departure.
Business class passengers can bring one guest with them, while Matmid members are allowed a certain number of guests per year depending on their status, which is described here. You can find more general access requirements here.
Hours and location
According to El Al the lounge is open “during hours when there are EL AL flights departing.” In practice, that means it’s open 2 AM to midnight from Sunday to Thursday and is closed from sunset on Friday to sundown on Saturday.
The lounge is in Terminal 3, from which almost all of the airport’s international flights depart, and is located within the D branch. To get there, just follow the signs for D gates once you’re in the circular atrium at the center of the terminal. The lounge will be at the beginning of the D branch on your left.
Layout & seating
The lounge is spread across two floors, with a primary seating area and buffet on the first floor and a quieter, smaller seating area on the second floor. I couldn’t find any official numbers, but I’d guess the lounge is about 5000 square feet.
Upon entering the lounge, you’ll see the reception desk and a gorgeous scale model of El Al’s 787-9.
There was an automated check-in option, so I scanned my boarding pass and walked down a short hallway to the left.
The first floor is a large, rectangular space, with double-height ceilings and floor-to-ceiling windows. The room itself is actually quite beautiful, with excellent natural light and beautiful wood accents.
The seating is almost entirely comfortable armchairs and I found plentiful power sockets nearby.
The pictures don’t quite capture it, but the the lounge felt pretty beat up, with scuff marks on the leather, fraying carpets, and scratched up floors.
The second floor, which can be accessed by stairs near the entrance to the lounge or by elevator, is about half the size of the first.
It’s essentially a large balcony that overlooks the rest of the lounge and acts as a less-trafficked area most suitable for work. The space has hardwood floors, which I really like, but these are in serious need of some TLC.
The buffet offerings are rotated three times a day and since I visited the lounge in the morning, breakfast foods were being served. Breakfast foods in Israel are fairly eclectic, often comprising salads, smoked fish, cheeses, and breads, and the selection here was similarly broad. I tried a bit of everything and it was all excellent.
Confusingly, there was also a pizza station, which seemed like an odd offering at a breakfast buffet.
Across from the buffet was a fridge with a selection of water, juices, and soft drinks.
Nearby were two touchscreen-operated coffee machines that dispensed a variety of espresso drinks.
Next to the coffee machines were a small selection of sweet baked goods.
Unfortunately, there was no bar in this lounge and no hard alcohol, but there was a selection of self-serve wines.
The second floor contains a smaller buffet, as well as coffee, tea, wine, soft drinks, and juices.
The lounge has several individual unisex bathrooms on both floors and they were kept clean throughout my visit.
Dissapointly, the lounge previously offered several shower suites, but when I asked the front desk about them, I was told that they were “no longer operational.”
To start off on a positive note, the lounge was very well-staffed. There were easily 10 employees visible anytime I looked–impressive given that there were only around 30 guests in the lounge. Less impressively, most staff seemed pretty inattentive and weren’t particularly engaged with lounge guests. When I asked an employee whether there was any gin to make myself a cocktail, he waved his hand vaguely in the direction of the wine selection and said that “everything we have is up there,” all without making eye contact.
In short, the service here no so much bad as it was nonexistent. That’d be disappointing in any lounge, but it’s doubly disappointing in the flagship lounge of a nation’s flag carrier.
I have mixed feelings about this lounge. On the one hand, I thought the food was excellent and I think the space itself has a lot of potential, with great apron views and good natural light. On the other hand, the service was subpar and much of the decor was threadbare. I was also disappointed by the lack of amenities that I think flagship lounges should offer, including showers, desks at which to work, or a basic bar.
Ultimately, my visit to the King David Lounge left a lot to be desired, and El Al has its work cut out for it–especially if the airline wants a lounge that even remotely measures up to its vastly superior onboard product.