First of all, let’s say that, for now, very few airlines flying in and out of Israel. This may change, but if you need to travel in the next few weeks, your options are quite limited.
We know that Arkia, Israir and El Al They are flying and will continue to fly; Even if they have to move flights to Ramon Airport near Eilat, they will keep our skies open.
Surprisingly, two Arab airlines fly twice a day: Etihad from Abu Dhabi and Fly Dubai from Dubai. Could this change if the situation in Gaza worsens? Of course, there are no guarantees during war. But notice how far we have come when two airlines from the Arab world have not stopped their flights.
All US and Canadian airlines have stopped flying. Whether American or Air Canada, Delta or United, they do not operate here. Some, like the Americans, have shown no confidence in the IDF and have postponed their flights until December 3. United and Delta have canceled flights through November 1, but if the war is not over yet, the cancellations will continue.
I want to believe that when we win the war, they will come running back.
The main reason for this situation is not concern for the safety of airline crews; rather, no insurance company will cover them during a war.
However, Cypriot airlines – Cyprie Air and Tus Airways – have managed to find cover and are flying to Israel and immediately returning home to minimize the risk.
Ethiopian Airlines also flies in and out of Israel along with Air Serbia, which flies to Belgrade.
Insurance, refunds and frozen fines
If you have an airline ticket that has been cancelled, you should request a full refund. They will offer you free exchanges for the foreseeable future; don’t opt for it. Get your money back. Please note this is not Covid; The only country affected by the war is Israel. Those same airlines that stopped flying to Israel are still flying around the world and there is no risk that they will not be able to refund you. Take the cash!
If you have a plane ticket for next month but aren’t sure you want to make the trip, you should tread carefully.
If you cancel before the airline has canceled its flights, you will have to pay the cancellation fee. No airline would waive the fee if you are still flying, although foreign airlines would allow you to make changes for free. Each airline has different conditions for how long a flight could be delayed, so make sure you understand them clearly.
EL AL, however, is flying: today, tomorrow and for the foreseeable future. It has added flights to dozens of cities in the absence of foreign airlines. If you bought a The AL ticket with a cancellation fee, you have two options: bear the cancellation fee or cancel the flight and freeze the ticket.
It is recommended to freeze the ticket if your destination is a place you plan to return to at some point, such as visiting a family member in the United States. Chances are good that if you don’t travel in the near future, you will do so next year. On the other hand, if it is to a city for a conference or business meeting and you have no reason or desire to go later, then cancel the ticket and you will get your money back minus the cancellation fees.
Tickets cannot be changed, and for every passenger who tells me that El Al is changing their flight schedules or using outdated equipment, I want to share with you something one of my favorite customers told me. When he asked the El AL flight attendant on a recent flight if she would return home for a few days, the response was very succinct: “This is our way of helping, as couriers to bring Israelis home, because who else would?” will?”
I’m also getting a lot of requests to travel abroad next month; some for work, others for an event like a wedding or a bar mitzvah. It will arrive the next day. People will go abroad. But make no mistake: we have been traumatized both individually and collectively.
Do you want to buy a ticket for an airline that doesn’t fly this month? Do you want to risk looking for a different airline in case the war isn’t over yet? There is no easy answer and I don’t pretend to know it. El Al’s rate due to lack of competition is not cheap; however, we know they will fly. You should use a travel professional or a site that is very easy to use and allows you to be contacted 24/7 if questions arise. This is not the time to take shortcuts.
THIS IS what all of us in the travel community have been doing since the war began: bringing back anyone who wants to come home and sending those who must go. Guide clients through all possible options. Holding your hands as your doubts and anxieties rise to the surface. We are doing this 24/7 with love in our hearts. We are One People, One Country. And we all wish we could do more.
Stay safe, stay strong!
The writer is the CEO of Ziontours, Jerusalem, and director of Diesenhaus. If you have questions and comments, please email him at Mark.Feldman@diesenhaus.co.il