The Great Lakes are Not So Great

At least according to Air Canada Jazz. Eh?

The airline decided to save fuel by getting rid of the LIFE VESTS. As anyone flying from Toronto knows, planes fly over the Great Lakes. Eh? But they are not so “Great” and all routes are less than 50 miles from shore, so life vests are a luxury the airline can no longer afford. Eh?

Other than that – Jazz is a good airline. This fall you may want to fly them to New York for Fall Colors, to see Virginia Fall Foliage, but not Colorado Fall Foliage.
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ElAl and American Airlines codeshare – LY (El Al) and AA

Almost as long awaited as peace in the middle east, the ElAl / AA codeshare seems to be picking up some steam. ElAl announced that it starts Sept 2. AA has not mentioned it on its website and the other flyer forums have not really got excited yet. There will be a more detailed post later on, but here are the key benefits to our readers:

1. Single ticket Tel Aviv to many US destinations (may be via Europe). Baggage gets checked all the way through. Now may be the chance to see the Adirondack Fall Foliage or Pennsylvania Fall Colors.

2. Possibly better use/accrual of miles. Remember that when dealing with ElAl points, “better” is a relative term. Here is a list of EL AL points you can get on AA, ranging from 240 points for First Class – London to Los Angeles to 5 measly points for lowest class New York to Pittsburgh. AA has not provided information on what changes on their side.

3. Access to AA lounges for Business Class travelers.

*** Details to follow ****

And to my friends at ElAl – The city in NJ was not named after Noah’s boat of biblical fame. Its Newark not “New Ark”. And San Francisco is hard to spell – good thing you tried a few options. Anyone want to volunteer their high school student to proof ElAl’s English Website?

Codeshares may mean lounge access – we like lounges and we discuss how. In SFO, there is enough to do at the airport and you might just find yourself sleeping on a floor at JFK.

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How Olmert, Peres and Bibi get El Al Platinum Status

From Yesterdays Yediot, here is how Israel’s leaders are doing with their ElAl miles (as of 2005):

President Shimon Peres – 6250 (thats only 73/year)

Olmert – (the envelope, please….) – 4788 points

Bibi – 660 points (don’t you get points for marrying a stewardess?)

Shaul Mofaz – 0 points

Zohar Zisapel – 1618 points

Why should my loyal TLV2JFK readers care?

1. Kind of scary that your personal data gets into Yediot

2. These guys all managed to get Platinum or Gold level membership, which gets all kind of nice things. Most of us need to fly almost every week to get to that level. Mofaz got it on ZERO points. So, there is some way to bully ElAl into getting (or keeping) Elite status. Let us know when you find out how.

Glutton for punishment? – More posts on ElAl Frequent Flyer Program – general, freddie awardcitibank and more. Or just read about continental.
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Car Rental Refueling Charges

Avis and Hertz are making almost as much from oil as Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan of Abu Dhabi.

Second richest royal in the world

The major car rental companies now have a policy where they automatically tack on a gas fee for rentals under 75 or 100 miles. This happens in the parking lot during the 1 minute express return, when you are trying not to forget your laptop, hoping not to miss the flight and your blackberry is buzzing – so Avis gets to have their cake and eat it too. These are your four options:

1. Support America Option. Fill up on gas before the return and pay the gas fee. You paid twice for the same gas, but only one payment goes to ibn Saud. And then please stop reading my blog, sucker!

2. Lazy Option. Don’t buy gas for rentals under the limit (75 or 100 miles). For the approx $15 they charge, you just about break even.

3. What I Would Do Option. Buy gas before returning the car and then make sure they deduct (show them the receipt) the automatic charge.

4. Abbie Hoffman Option. Don’t buy gas. Stop in the nearest gas station and buy a 6 pack of beer. Claim that you bought gas, show the receipt and have the automatic charge deducted. Remember to finish the beer before security or else they will.

What option do you like?

See other posts about Renting cars with priceline, Using Zipcar, Car Rental Dropoff charges and general Car Rental Scams.
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AA AAdvantage Frequent Flyer awards changes

No need to Panic about AA award changes.

Lots of people have asked me about the new AA award structure scheduled to take effect Oct 1, so I decided its worth a post or just look at the changes on AA.com. Red is bad.

Compared to other frequent flyer changes in the industry, this one is pretty tame. He is what may concern our readers:

1. OneWorld awards are unchanged. These are based on actual miles flown and usually not worth it.

2. Israel to North America now requires 90K miles instead of 75K, but Europe to North America is unchanged at 40K off-peak season and 60K peak. So now, it makes even more sense to get to Europe and fly from there.

3. Israel – Europe is unchanged at 40K. Here is the chart of where you can go from Israel (we are considered Middle East).

4. Business and First Class tickets have increased slightly on some routes. Check with AA or promise to take me with you and I will check for you.

5. Upgrades based on non-full fare economy cost up to $350 one way! + miles. Seems like people are willing to pay a lot in order not to sit next to people like themselves.

6. Awards within the US have increased but are not really relevant for the frequent flyer from Israel.

Comments welcome and don’t get too excited – it is still going to be difficult to use these awards, even after Oct 1.

If you read this blog for the frequent flyer info – there are some good posts about Turkish Airlines and its partnership with American, how to get a free ticket just by signing up for a Visa card, free travel on British, Continental leaving Delta for United and the Star Alliance, another post on ELAL and more. And, representing days of research – a guide to free tickets on all the airlines on the TLV – JFK route.
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ElAl is selling legroom (for an arm and a leg)

Here are the good seats on ElAl to New York and back – but it’s going to cost you.

These are the seats with more legroom – the bulkhead seats and the exit row seats on ElAL:

777-200

45BC, 45HJ, 21AC, 21HK, 22DFG, 46DFG

747-400

21BC, 21HJ, 34BC, 34HJ, 35A, 35K, 45BC, 45HJ, 25DEFG, 36DEFG, 46DEFG

767-200

45AC, 45HK, 21AC, 21DFG, 21HK, 46DFG

767-300

22AC,
45AC, 46AC, 46HK, 21DFG, 21HK, 46DFG,

757

21ABC, 21HJK, 23Hj, 45ABC, 45HJK, 25ABC

737

45A, 45K, 21ABC, 21HJK

737-800

45ABC, 45HJK, 21ABC, 21HJK

You can grab these seats online, the easy way, the hard way and the very hard way.

The easy way – be a platinum or gold member and its free. OR qualify as a corporate customer under this cryptic rule from their site: “comm. DP or comm. DG status“. And, the fine print says that if you are traveling with someone who is not a gold, platinum or whatever level – he/she will have to pay (see below) to sit next to you. This rule has the potential of breaking up marriages (or save them).

The hard wayPAY. And sometimes that is not good enough. You go online and “reserve” the seat. What you are really doing is putting yourself on the waiting list for the right to pay $59 (each way!) in case none of the high rollers show up. The waiting list is not run in the traditional “I was here first” algorithm. It is run by the caste-like heirachy of the ElAl flyer world. Recall that Top Platinum, Platinum and Gold get the seat for free. The waiting list priority goes in order of Silver and King David first, then regular Matmid members and finally – the “Untouchables” – the non-Member.

The only good news is that ElAl’s worthless points may be used in lieu of payment. 135 points (each way) and you don’t have to fold your legs in the tray table.

And, the really really hard way. Bring a baby up to 9 months old. You get the bulkhead (a $118 value) for free. Thats almost the price of a ticket for the little shrieker.

Now an exercise in Talmudic logic (please add the singsong):

If you are traveling with a 9 month old and get the bulkhead – what do you do about the other bulkhead seats?

Do you pay $118 each for the rest of your family to sit with you or do you just hope no one will sit next to you?

When you get on the plane and see that others have paid for the privilege of watching you change a diaper on your lap do you ask them nicely to switch with your husband in the center seat of the last row near the bathroom?

Or do you offer to buy the seat at the going rate?

Or do you ask the person (who we know has already made a very poor $59 investment) to fork over some more cash to trade with your husband in the back?

TEKU
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ElAl – GOOD Karma, Delta, etc – BAD Karma

ElAl flew into the Georgian war zone to bring Israeli’s home. There are probably not many airlines that hear of a war and fly in.

In sharp contrast is the US Airline industry’s support of the US Soldiers being sent to Iraq. It turns out that those big green bags that soldiers like to bring to wars are pretty heavy. Also, people headed to Afghanistan might need more than a carry on bag. CNN reports that “Troops pay baggage fees on way to war zones“. Fees can get up to $250. The blogosphere is buzzing with discussions and for some reason CNN has yanked the article.
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