Israel Travel Guide
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Update: 12:30pm EST, July 23: Although yesterday's FAA ban on flights to Israel was originally only for 24 hours, it has been extended to last another 24 at the least. This only applies to US airlines, so flights to Israel on El Al out of JFK are still operating normally.
Update: 1pm EST: FAA has issued a notice (NOTAM) prohibiting US airlines from flying to or from Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Int’l Airport for up to 24 hours.
Update: 12pm EST: US Airways, United and American Airlines now join Delta in temporarily suspending Tel Aviv flights.
At approximately 11am EST today, Delta updated their Israel travel adivsory from a warning that flights may be disrupted, to the fact that their flights from New York-JFK to Tel Aviv will not be operating at all "until further notice."
The stoppage is a temporary hiatus necessitated by escalating violence in Israel; the final straw comes with the report of a rocket attack in the vicinity of Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion International Airport. Naturally the danger calls to mind last week's Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 tragedy, caused by a ground-to-air missile. While airlines continue to divert their flight paths clear of Ukrainian air space, there are other war zones to consider.
Airline News / Airlines / El Al / WiFi / In-Flight WiFi / ViaSat / Europe Travel / → All Tags
It’s time to stay connected high in the sky with yet another carrier, as this week there’s a buzz around El Al and their plans to install the necessary bits and pieces to support a little in-flight WiFi.
To start things will just be an option on the carrier’s shorter flights in and around Europe, as they are partnering up with the folks over at ViaSat to get things done. Boeing 737s will be the first to be hooked up with Exede in-flight internet, so be sure to fully charge all your electronic gadgets prior to heading off to the airport.
New Airline Alert / Up by El Al / El Al / Israel Travel / Europe Travel / LCC / LCCs / TLV / → All Tags
The past few years have absolutely been high times for full-service airlines to stretch their legs and enter the low-cost carrier market. Singapore Airlines has Scoot, ANA has Peach and Vanilla Air, Thai Airways has Nok Air, Air Canada has Air Canada Rouge, and these are only a few examples. Now, El Al is getting in on the fun with their own little brother of an airline, UP by El Al.
The new airline will fly from Tel Aviv to five cities in Europe, giving cost-conscious travelers a new option between Israel and Berlin, Budapest, Kiev, Prague and Larnaca. Offering the typical à la carte service model we've come to expect from budget airlines, Up will save passengers some cash with tickets to Prague and Budapest starting at $69, and the other destinations from $99 one-way.
WiFi / Travel Tech / Israel Travel / Tourists / → All Tags
The days of hopping between coffee shops and other WiFi hotspots are becoming fewer and fewer, as yet another country is beaming out Internet waves to tourists and locals alike.
Last month, Tel Aviv flipped the switch for free-for-all-WiFi to ensure everyone can stay connected. Whether they’re strolling the beach or checking out a little history, the city clearly understands visitors need to document visits instantly—through social media of course.
In total, the plan is to install around 80 or so hotspots, and the good news is that most of them are already up and running. If all goes accordingly, another 20 or so should be up and running in the next couple of months.
In case you missed it yesterday we discussed the grand opening of one of the world’s newest airports, and it just happens to now hold the title of the world’s highest commercial airport. We figured if we were going to discuss airport extreme elevations we might as well go the other way as well, so today we’re heading over to Israel to talk about Bar Yehuda Airfield.
The airport—also known as Masada Airfield—sits not too far from the Dead Sea right in the southern part of the Judean desert. Let’s just say services at the airport are pretty limited, and there is no McDonald’s or Starbucks.
If you forgot to pack a book in your beach bag, Israel's Metzizim Beach has a solutiona brand new beachfront lending library with titles available in Hebrew, Arabic, English, Russian, and French.
The portable library, which kind of looks like an old-school ice cream cart, is located on one of Tel Aviv's most busy and popular beaches. Currently, there are 523 books ready to be borrowed, but the number of course changes as tourists leave books or swap them out.
If books aren't your thing and you'd rather check email and read on your Kindle while sunbathing, tech capital Tel Aviv has that covered too. Simply connect to the city's free wifi network (which works on the beach, we've tried it!) and you can download whatever you'd like to read in whatever language you want to read it in. Another plus: thanks to Israel's nice warm weather, this library could work pretty much all year round.
Kitty cats. They rule the internet and, whether we realize it or not, pretty much the world too. Ever noticed how cats sometimes stake out the coolest spots in a city? This new featureTravel Catfocuses on exactly that. Submit a photo to be featured by tweeting or Instagramming it to us (details below).
Travel Cat spotted at: the Western Wall in Jerusalem.
This week's Travel Cat is from writer and traveler Kate Winick, who tweeted to say that she'd spied these two kitties "yowling at each other" while visiting Jerusalem's Western Wall. Hopefully they worked it out; there's enough conflict around these parts already.
WWOOF, an exchange organization which offers adults food and accommodation in return for volunteer help on organic farms, is now connecting volunteers with farmers in Israel.
WWOOF Israel Hosts are Kibbutz, Moshav, farmers, and small private families who offer volunteers various opportunities to learn about Permaculture, Organic Gardening, Green Building, and other skills, like Cheese-Making and Wine-Making.
We’re sure that airline ticketing agents have heard every excuse under the sun when it comes to why passengers need a better seat, an upgrade, or just a spot that’s a little more convenient. Instead of just ignoring our need to whine our way into a better seat, El Al has embraced it—kind of. The carrier just posted a video illustrating some of their favorite upgrade excuses, and we’ve got to admit it might have given us a chuckle.
There’s a pretty bad impersonation of JFK, as someone tries to get a discount to business class since the airport’s named after him. There’s a woman pregnant with a basketball and also a guy who stands on his buddy to show how uncomfortable he’ll be on the flight thanks to his long legs. Just check it out above if you want to get the full picture.
Social Media / El Al / Israel Travel / Tel Aviv Travel / Airlines / Airline News / Facebook / Expedia / → All Tags
I am going to Tel Aviv. I've never been to Tel Aviv, nor to Israel as a whole. I am going for 10 days and flying around 27 hours without factoring in layovers. Total decision and booking time was about 15 minutes and the flights are only costing me $353.60.
Why? Because, in case you haven't already heard, El Al Airlines had an error in their online bookings earlier this week that left the fuel surcharge off of ticket prices, making a roundtrip from New York to Tel Aviv less than a roundtrip from New York to Las Vegas.
I scored this deal on Expedia as soon as news of it hit social media, as did thousands others. A friend who attempted to book after me had the deal pulled as soon as she clicked "purchase"; the trip price had rocketed up to $999. What compels me to discuss this now is not joy or bragging over grabbing the ultra-cheap flights, but to point out how El Al has handled the potential catastrophe and inadvertently turned it into what is quite possibly the best thing to happen to them in a while.
What's more surprising: the news that El Al's female flight attendants have been voted the most attractive in the world, or that El Al still uses the word "stewardesses?"
The Israel-based airline announced on their blog today that an organization called World Air Hostesses Association has named El Al's in-flight crew the best looking. However, a quick Google search turns up no such survey, and El Al reports that the survey was published so far only in the Chinese media. The post closes with "You read it here first!"
Well, um, mazel tov, ladies.
[Photo: El Al on Flickr]
It turns out there are lots of good-looking people in Tel Aviv. Israel and Israelis long ago became a mainstay of Sports Illustrated swimsuit issues, and of course Tel Aviv itself is both a home and a dining destination for none other than Bar Refaeli. But some people remained unconvinced that Israel's largest beach city was an epicenter of attractiveness. Now there are numbers on this question.
Earlier this year online travel mag Travelers Digest published its roundup of global cities with the best looking men and women. The lists circulated around the Internet for a while, and then dropped off as these things do, and then were revived last week when they got picked up by an Israeli culture blog. Tel Aviv ranked 7th for hottest women and ranked 10th for hottest men. The writeup on the women's list included the phrase "exotic and appealing," which makes a lot sense since Israeli women are both of those things, and the men's list discussed "artistic Bauhaus architecture," which made less sense.