“3 Day” Hotel Layover in New York

Contributed by one of our readers (like most of our posts):

I fly the redeye Thursday night from SFO. 6 AM in NY. I fly Saturday night to TLV. Order hotel online and you will find out that its a 3 day event:

Day 1 is previous day for early check in
Day 2 is actual day
Day 3 is next day for late checkout

Synopsys/Cadence/Mentor/Intel may not really like seeing a 3 day charge for you to enjoy a fall foliage afternoon in Central Park.

The solution – by a leading Israeli Semiconductor Wiz is simple:

Get to New York at 6am with no reservation (Yekke readers please skip to next post).
Hit the bank of phones at the baggage claim. Thats dozens of hotels begging for your business.
After a few calls you will certainly find one ready to give you early check in and late check out at no extra charge. 3 “days” for the price of one. Most of the hotels are at the airport. Take the shuttle to New York.
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Avis – we try harder (to scam you!)

Avis & friends have this great racket going. $19.95/day and you get a nice fully loaded car. Fully loaded with extra costs, as it turns out. And if you are an “Avis Preferred” customer – you get to skip the lines – and not notice the extra charges.

Todays scam has been reported by a conscientious employee of a large Israeli company (whose Name I Don’t Say). Its pretty simple (below is his receipt from a rental in New York):

If you use an International Israel Visa you get to choose – bill me in (a) Dollars or in (b) Shekels. The answer has no effect on your accounting with the bank – in any case its a foreign transaction and show up in dollars. The right answer is (a) Dollars. If you choose Shekels they convert at a bad rate (about 3% worse). In the example above – they calculated the charge at 3.7111 NIS/$ when the rate was around 3.58. Again – its not a matter of paying in $ or NIS, in which case a conversion premium might be justified. It is just a trick in the calculation – one way our Avis Preferred customer pays $290, the other way $300.

More scam:

1. The default is Shekels. You have to explicitly ask at the counter for Dollars. Only problem is that Avis Preferred customers don’t go to the counter.

2. When you discover it when returning your car there is nothing they can do. You can write a letter. Or argue, miss your flight and then write a letter.

See other posts about Renting cars with priceline, Using Zipcar, Car Rental Refueling Charges, Car Rental Dropoff charges and general scams.


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We have clearance Clarence. Roger, Roger. What’s our vector Victor?

There is no doubt that Airplane! is one of the funniest movies ever made. Ask the flight crew on your next trip. 28 years later, the cast got together on the Today show in New York.

Yes, this blog is very serious but some humor on – airline food, lost luggage, new york trees, fat flyers, security, cost savings and ElAl.

Click to play:

The Rabbi, The Goat and the ElAl Fuel / Frequent Flyer Surcharge

The Rabbi, The Goat and the ElAl Fuel / Frequent Flyer Surcharge

Yes folks, it has happened again. A Yiddish folk tale from 19th century Europe has been reenacted in 21st century Israel. Its the story of the Rabbi and the Goat. ElAl, after tacking on $500 to a “bonus” ticket on their Matmid Frequent flyer program in the form of taxes, fees and fuel surcharges has issued a self-congratulatory email to its important friars flyers announcing a $35 reduction in the cost of a flight to New York, due to the declining price of oil.

In case you are not familiar with the tale, here it is, as described by Max Fischer (In Yiddish, this is usually drawn out into a 30 minute story):

“A Yiddish folk tale tells of a man who visits his rabbi to complain about his wife and seek pity about his household’s condition. The wise rabbi counsels the man to take a goat, some chickens, and a cow into his home. Upon seeing the rabbi a day or two later, the man is distraught about the mess and commotion the animals have made. The rabbi advises the man to remove the animals, whereupon the man views his home life as absolute bliss.”

There is even a book about this and now a whole airline is using this strategy.

See other posts about ElAl prices going up and down – ,the airfare increase due to $147 oil , special business class deals, some general tips for finding cheap airfare and more. This post even has some hope that the American Airlines and ELAL codeshare willl change pricing.

If you read this blog for the frequent flyer info – there are some good posts about free travel on British, Continental leaving Delta for United and the Star Alliance, yet another AA change, 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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Kids are in School, Airfare is Down – Fly to US for Fall Foliage

After 50+ posts about how to fly to the States and back, focusing on preserving your sanity and getting a good deal, I decided (based on reader demand) to write a blog post on what to do in the States. Today is Labor Day and the fall season officially kicks off, at least in the Northeast, so here are some suggestions for Fall Foliage Trips from now until November.

  • Hudson Valley and Catskills Fall Foliage – Could be as simple as a window seat on the Metro-North Hudson Line to Poughkeepsie or as unique as a vintage 1929 biplane ride in Rhinebeck.
  • Heading from NY to DC? Stop by and enjoy Pennsylvania Fall Foliage near Lancaster, which is part of the colorful Amish country harvest scene. Or along the Potomac for DC and Maryland Fall Foliage.
  • Staying in the City? Visit Central Park for New York City Fall Foliage or combine a visit to relatives in Great Neck with a tour of some of the historic North Shore mansions and Gardens for some Long Island Fall Foliage
  • Visiting the Boston area with not enough time to get to Vermont? Massachusetts Fall Foliage is presented in a historic setting at Concord, MA.
  • And to our friends in Colorado, who won’t even acknowledge that Vermont exists (as far as skiing is concerned, at least) – the Colorado Fall Foliage is different. Vintage Train Rides, 14,000 ft snow covered peaks as backdrop for the Colorado Rockies Fall colors and even some Gold mining ghost towns south into New Mexico.
  • My personal favorite is near Pittsburgh. Fallingwater, the Frank Lloyd Wright masterpiece is at its best when the nearby trees are showing the brilliant colors of Southwest Pennsylvania Fall Foliage. Let me know if anyone actually makes it there.

And good news for frequent flyers with busy schedules – the Fall Foliage season is 2 months long – go up or down in elevation (UP = Adirondack Fall Foliage, DOWN = Maine Coast Fall Foliage) or go North (Vermont Fall Foliage) to South (Virginia Fall Foliage). Just make sure to go.
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