You will want some of my top travel secrets for flights to Israel, read on…
Over the past nearly 20 years, I have made at least 30+ trips between Israel and the States as well as many locations in Europe along the way. Over that time period, I have been asked by many to share my top recommendations and “Israel travel secrets”. Believe me, I have made more than my share of mistakes so let me share with you my “short list” and the top five FAQs answered:
How do I find the cheapest/best flights?
Sometimes cheap and best are mutually exclusive unfortunately. However, I often find the absolute best flight deals not so much by shopping many different sites. I find Expedia or Cheap O Air to be very good. The best overall flights will usually be from a major International hub. Consider driving instead of flying to a major hub. For example, I live in Cleveland, Ohio which is about a 4.5 hour drive from Toronto, Canada or about 6-7 hours from New York. I can save about 50% or usually about $600/ticket flying from either of those main International hubs. If I were to fly from Cleveland, there would be a layover in one of those cities anyway. Factor in the time to check your bags, pass through security and a layover. The total travel time might actually be less and much more tolerable to drive. For me, it is definitely worth it.
What about stopovers in Europe or elsewhere?
Big Yes on that one. Flights that stopover in Europe from the States mean your flight will be broken up about 65%/35% or vice versa depending on your origin. A 10 hour flight direct from New York would be for example 7-8 hours to most locations in Europe and another 3-4 hours to Tel Aviv. The total travel time may be a bit more but 10-12 hours on a plane is tough even if you can afford business class. Usually, a stopover in Europe means an opportunity to do some Duty Free shopping for local goods without having to enter the country. One time, my wife and I used a 12 hour layover in France to take a half day quick tour of Paris. It was perfect!!
What are the best days and times to fly?
If you want to fly El Al Israel Airlines, Shabbat is not an option. Otherwise, If you are able to travel during the week, the flights are a bit less expensive than Sunday and weekends. The flight time is much more important. Try to fly a “red eye” or night flight. If you are traveling to Israel for only a short visit, Jet lag will be an issue for sure. If you can sleep a few good hours on the plane, it will greatly help you adjust to the time change. A 3 – 4 hour nap or any amount of uninterrupted sleep sitting upright on a plane is a bonus; like 8 hours in a bed at home; well not quite…
What about avoiding long lines at security and Customs?
I recommend the Nexus Global Entry Card. For a nominal $150, you can apply online; then have a follow-up interview at an International Airport in the U.S. or Canada; also at a local Nexus office close to you. It is pre-approval program like TSA-Pre except for International travel only. It means much shorter waiting times at both Security and Customs into the U.S. and Canada. After a long flight, the most tortuous experience for me personally is to wait in long lines with crowds of people. The card is good for 5 years and some travel credit card companies will reimburse you 100% for the cost. I use Chase Saphire Reserve. If you travel domestically or internationally at least a few times per year, I also recommend the Priority Pass. It is a network of airport lounges like the “United Club” and others. It is not connected to any major airline but offers a nice lounge, (sometimes showers) and an opportunity to eat, relax and recharge while waiting for a flight or connection.
What airlines offer the best food?
Honestly, unless you can afford business class, none of them. Dont take an airline because you think that have better food. The best advice I can give you is to eat a minimum, bring your own healthy snacks and give your tummy a break. Adjusting to many hours of sitting, along with a change in routine is hard enough for your digestive system. Try to resist the urge to eat a lot on the plane even if you are bored. You will feel much better, believe me. Instead drink a ton of water, or even sparkling water. This will help replenish your system from the dry stale airplane air. Also, try to sleep or put on a headset and watch a movie instead of eating. After, a few movies and hopefully a nice nap, your flight will be almost over.
Please enjoy my Top 5 FAQS answered on travel to Israel.
Safe and Pleasant Travels