EL AL plane 1 248 88.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
Whenever the airport strike begins, the following vital information is applicable to all passengers. We'll divide it up in to five areas:
At this time of year, flights are pretty much sold out to and from most cities. First step is to check the Web site of Ben-Gurion Airport (www.iaa.gov.il/rashat/en-US/Airports/BenGurion). It is updated constantly and should be your main source for the latest information on both incoming and outgoing flights.
Secondly, if you purchased your ticket through a travel agency, the good ones will have a 24-hour number for emergencies. Get it! While they may not be able to solve your problem, they should provide you both with emotional support and an honest assessment of space.
Thirdly, the airline sites themselves should also be explored; while they may not be totally accurate, they'll give you a picture of when flights will resume.
Understand that if you're holding confirmed space on a flight that has been cancelled due to the strike, you go to the back of the line once the strike ends.
That's right! Passengers holding tickets for that specific date have priority over strike-affected fliers.
Which means that if you're overseas, any costs incurred - hotel accommodations or ground transportation - remain firmly your responsibility! The other risk is for those passengers who are returning to Israel on a connecting flight. For example, returning via Europe from New York. The risk is that while you can get on the plane to Europe, you'll be stranded on the Europe-to-Tel Aviv leg.
In the past, clients have been forced to sleep in the airport until a flight opened up. If at all possible, avoid this scenario by not getting on the first flight until you know the strike has ended.
While the airline will do its best to get you on a flight, it is not legally obligated to do so.
Many tickets are non-refundable; others carry cancellation fees. In the past, airlines have offered to let customers use the tickets in the future. Each airline sets its own policy.
Charter packages with hotels are the trickiest part when a strike occurs.
If you've purchased a package to Turkey, for example, with a hotel, the wholesaler is not responsible that you were not able to fly. You most likely will lose everything; certainly, the hotel portion and most likely the air tickets as well.
In the past, clients have sued the Histadrut for damages, without any recourse.
Some Israeli wholesalers have in the past offered alternative dates, but in most cases, a full cancellation fee is charged.
If, in addition to an airline ticket, you also reserved a hotel, cancellation payment for the first night is almost a certainty. The logic, quite simply, is that the hotel is not responsible that you failed to show up. Usually, though, they will refund the rest of your intended stay.
Whether you purchased travel insurance from your credit card, your health fund, or your travel agent, no policies sold in Israel cover strike-related damages.
The situation may arise in which the Histadrut allows airlines to land, usually for humanitarian reasons, but bags will not be unloaded. This means you must make certain that your carry-on bag contains those items you may need upon arrival. Do not pack vital medications in your checked bags.
Keep in mind that if a strike occurs, there is no way in or out of our country. The borders with Jordan and Egypt will also be closed, so even trying to fly out from there isn't an option. It's not even certain whether chartering a boat to Cyprus would work.
The author is the CEO of Ziontours Jerusalem.
For questions and comments email him at firstname.lastname@example.org