El Al is the national airline of Israel; “El Al” is Hebrew for “to the skies.” The popular El Al backronymic (back acronym) nickname of “Every Landing Always Late” has been cited in print since at least 1969.
Wikipedia: El Al
El Al Israel Airlines Ltd (TASE: ELAL), trading as El Al (Hebrew: אל על, “To The Skies” or “Skywards”, Arabic: إل عال), is the flag carrier of Israel. Since its inaugural flight from Geneva to Tel Aviv in September 1948, the airline has grown to serve some 45 destinations, operating scheduled domestic and international services and cargo flights to Europe, North America, Africa and the Near and Far East from its main base in Ben Gurion International Airport.
7 September 1969, The Plain Dealer (Cleveland, OH), “Travelogue; Israelis Fast Only in War” by Douglas Bloomfield, Sunday Magazine, pg. 54, col. 2:
And no matter how well their national airline keeps to its schedule, Israelis will tell you El Al stands for Every Landing Always Late (though it actually means Onward, Upward).
15 November 1972, The Evening Times (Trenton, NJ), “Israel Keeps Its Guard Up” by Arnold C. Ropeik, pg. 24, col. 1:
El AL is often teased with the suggestion that the letters mean Every Landing Always Late. But El Al doesn’t mind and neither do the passengers. El Al remains the world’s most unhijacked airline.
7 January 1980, Los Angeles (CA) Times, “El Al Airlines Finally May Lose ‘Every Landing Always Late’ Tag” by Dial Torgerson, pg. D15:
Wildcat strikes were a way of life with El Al, which departure-lounge wits insisted stood for “Every Landing Always Late.”
Star in the Sky
By Marvin G. Goldman; illustrated by Mike Machat
Miami, FL: World Transport Press
Yet the frequent delays meant that El Al still appealed mainly to air travelers sentimental about its ties to Israel. With good nature, they joked that El Al really was an acronym for “Every Landing Always Late”, and the Constellations were called the “El Al Cancellations.”
Israel versus Jibril:
The thirty-year war against a master terrorist
By Samuel M. Katz
New York, NY: Paragon House
El Al was already an airline known for its unreliable schedule, but the new guidelines prompted a joke taken from the El Al acronym: “El Al — Every Landing Always Late.”
I Didn’t Know That!:
Torah News U Can Use
By Joe Bobker
Lynbrook, NY: Gefen Books
El Al once stood for “Every Landing Always Late!”