Travel Protection Insurance – Trip Interruption / Delay

The New York Times “Haggler” column featured an informative and relevant article on travel protection insurance.  Like all insurance – if you didn’t need to file a claim – you are happy.  If, like me, you don’t buy things like earthquake insurance in Ranana and flood insurance in Beersheva – you are also happy.

But what if you were being cautious and bought insurance that covered Trip Interruption, Trip Delay, Trip Cancellation and whatever else you could think of? And what if you actually had to cancel the trip?

The New York Times covers a story of a couple that bought Trip Cancellation Insurance from the travel agent that sold them the trip. The premium was 10% of the cost of the trip (which is high for almost any kind of insurance – even for Bear insurance in Yellowstone). The husband had a heart attack and they cancelled.

The story only gets worse, and I won’t repeat it here. But if you are the type or even have good reason to buy Trip Insurance, bear in mind the following, when reading the fine print that you may get a credit (and only for use with the same travel agent) instead of a refund.  The call center operators seem to be instructed to use every comforting word like “protection” and “guarantee” while never invoking the word “refund”. They will not say refund, but you will hear it. So, read the fine print and insist that the term “full refund” appears somewhere in the agreement. And enjoy your fall foliage cruise to New England.

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US Air Begins Nonstop Tel Aviv to Philadelphia Service

US Air has started daily flights to Israel from Philadelphia.  Prices seem quite low to places other than Philadelphia.  I managed to book a flight on their Israel site to Boston for $875 (via Philadelphia). Interestingly enough, the exact same flight to Philadelphia costs $200 more.

Flights leave TLV at 11:15p and arrive at PHL 5:10a (Oy Vey!).

Flights leave PHL at 9:15p and arrive at TLV 3:30p+ .

Reasons to fly US Air:

  1. You want to go to Philadelphia (or just avoid New York)
  2. Good deals to other US cities
  3. Sully may be your pilot

As far as Frequent Flyer miles are concerned:

  1. Miles may be accrued on the US Air Dividend program or on programs of Star Alliance Partners (most relevant to TLV2JFK readers are Air Canada, United, Austrian, Turkish, Swiss, Lufthansa and Singapore)
  2. 80,000 US Air Dividend miles can get you to the States including Hawaii, Central America and the Caribbean.

With the addition of US Air, the following 4 cities are served non-stop from Israel:

New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Philadelphia

Before we get all excited about that – guess which  5 UKRAINIAN cities are served non-stop from Israel.

Give up? They are:

Kiev, Lviv, Odessa, Simferopol and Dnipropertovsk

Lets hope ElAl puts back the non-stop to Miami, so we can tie the Ukrainians.
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SmartPark JFK Parking – Every 7th day free

We decided to give our readers a promo for JFK long term parking. Try it out, post your feedback and tell them we sent you! Here is what SmartPark JFK has to say about JFK parking to the TLV2JFK community:

How smart are you? Pay less for JFK Airport Parking and get more.

June 9, 2009 was the official launch of SmartPark JFK website. The answer to all your airport parking woes.

Easy as 1… 2… 3 to locate at: 123-10 South Conduit Avenue, South Ozone Park, NY 11420, only minutes from JFK Airport. No nonsense, service with a smile to meet all of your 24/7 airport parking needs.

Bringing back the concept of the way it used to be. At our facility you will be received immediately by a member of our highly trained staff on an interpersonal level.  At SmartParkJfk, our priority is for you to be our guest not just another number.

In a rush? No problem. We will expedite all of your forms and paperwork for you and you will be on your way within minutes. A 5-7 minute ride door to terminal. Tired of the old broken down shuttles, no worries, our new, state of the art, plush shuttles and skilled valet drivers will have you riding in style.

As of late, the surrounding parking facilities along with the port authority are raising prices. In this time of economic hardship, we here at SmartParkJfk want to work with you.

We are on a separate road (pun intended) and have lowered our pricing via our “Smart Summer Stimulus Special” from $14.00 per day to a low $12.00 per day, adding only NYC (10.375%) parking tax. Stay with us for 6 days and every 7th day that you leave your vehicle with us, it is a FREE parking day for you.  Go to SmartparkJFK  and make a regular reservation then click here for Special JFK2TLV Coupon for every 7th day free rate.

Running late, flight delays, no worries, we have No late fees for arrival within 5 hours of your confrimed scheduled vehicle pickup.

The 5 Hour Grace period

Online Reservation:

If you make a FREE online reservation, please note that the check in time chosen online will almost always differ from your “Actual” check in time. So, your 29 hours starts from the “Actual” check in time at the SmartPark JFK airport parking facility.

Walk-in Reservation:

A walk-in reservation confirmed check-in time starts your 29 hour clock.

We are here for you and with you to make the anticipated, mundane and usually stressful travel experience, stress free.

Do you own a GPS navigation system; even better, your car will drive you right to our door, just look up to see our Signature cartoon smart, Einstein logo.

Our facility offers an all inclusive service from drop off to pick up with your baggage handling to the terminal if you so choose.

Also added for your convenience is our colorful, yet simple, user friendly website with the easy to see “reserve”, it is as easy as click and reserve, done!

Look for the signature cartoon Einstein logo.  Why Einstein logo you may say, Einstein was intelligent and smart and so are you for using SmartParkJfk.


Enjoy your beach vacation in NY or Israel!

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Searching for cheaper airfare

I guess that looking for cheaper airfares is always a priority for the traveler even though there are quite a few parameters that are important too when making travel arrangements. But let us admit it once and for all – there is no thrill like the thrill you get when you know that the guy sitting next to you paid $100 more than you paid on exactly the same itinerary, and pleasure increases exponentially as the price difference and percent grows. And of course, it works vice versa too. Multiple ways exist today to get such lower fares but recently I stumbled on a web site,, that takes a different approach on getting us such low prices. It claims to connect the user directly with airlines, the major travel sites and wholesalers and that way to be able to proved low fares. While I did not yet order a ticket from them, I checked a few possibilities and prices seemed to be lower anywhere between $25 on the cheap routes to $500 on a business class trip to silicon valley in California. It will be interesting to get more feedback about this site as people try and get tickets and other reservations using them.

See other posts about ElAl prices going up and down – finding hidden bargains on ElAl’s website, the airfare increase due to $146 oil,the airfare increase due to $147 oil , special business class deals, the increased “price” for EL AL free tickets, and more. This post even has some hope that the American Airlines and ELAL codeshare willl change pricing.
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Priceline- Cheapest car rental in JFK- sometimes

Using Priceline to rent cars is the way to go in JFK- in the range of $25 to $35 per day- not including insurance- However despite the claim on Priceline site that cars can be picked up a few hours before the official time – in reality on my last trip to NY- the car rental company wanted an additional $250 to pick up the car 3 hours earlier- as the rental period began at 12:01 AM and I wanted to pick it up at 10PM. Earlier means the same calendar day!

See other posts about Using Zipcar, Car Rental Refueling Charges, Car Rental Dropoff charges and general Car Rental Scams.
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Pesach Airfare Price Drop

I thought I was being smart ordering my Pesach tickets in advance (1 month ago). I paid $1200-$1300 a person (times 6!). I bought the tickets on Expedia, as an elite member and 2 days ago I found better flights for $1000 each. It seems like ElAl has taken the unusual step of dropping prices by several hundred dollars before Pesach.

Unfortunately, due to Delta’s $200 cancellation fee – this won’t really help me.

Hope this information is helpful for someone else.
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Bad Kosher Airline food – funny?

Right now I am on the plane eating my “Economy Class Chicken Dinner” for breakfast and I am thinking of yesterdays kosher meal on Turkish Airlines. Worst ever. And I have had a lot of bad ones, including 18 lettuce only salads once.

Please don’t read this if you plan to eat in the next 3 hours.
Him and his Rabbi would have been thrilled
First bad sign – its anonymous. No marking of the supplier, caterer or even the exterminator. Not on all the wrappings, tapes, plastics. Its not like they forgot – they remembered a tri-language statement of kashrut by 2 French Rabbi’s (do Ashkenazic people really not trust a Sephardic Rabbi (and vice versa)). I am sure the French version advised them not to eat it.

Next bad sign – 2 round metal cans. First glance at the can and it looks just like Tuna fish. Second glance – it is Basque Tuna – a dish which is basically (no offense to the Basque who, were it not for the tuna disaster might have my support for an independent homeland some day), cat-food quality tuna with a little rice filler and warmed up. Do not try this at home!

A can of tuna is best at room temperature (not Jet engine blasted). Luckily, the heat of the can (and the thought of the contents) distracted me as I turned to the second can, which was for sheer variety – Salmon Pate.

After a trial forkful (I would not have dared this if I was not helpless, extraterrestial and starving 37,000 feet in the air) both cans were trashed. I apologize to Mr. Chicken or Beef next to me for the horrible dead fish smell coming from my meal (and later from under the seat where I stuffed it).

If all else fails – desert should be edible. Not even close. Lets just say this mysterious French company does NOT have a non-compete with GERBERS. Desert was a mushed banana and apple dish. Its been a while, but I recall gerbers being tastier.

I am sure you have deep sympathy for my experience, but it gets worse. Finally, I fall asleep on my empty stomach and wake up to Breakfast. Kosher. Guess what?

Its the exact same thing again. And this time – I was beaten – I ate it. I will never touch tuna, salmon, banana or apples again. The Basque can forget their country (stick with Boise, ID) and the entire country of France should lose all their Michelin stars for allowing this to happen.

I think in general Kosher food out of Europe is bad. Out of Israel, at least you get something reasonably fresh (besides airport security and airline safety). In US the field is competitive and no one wants an in-flight death (or worse – a lawsuit) on their hands. But Europe – forget it.

And some posts about – water at the airport, kosher restaurants in LA and the Bay Area .
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