The Travel Advisor: Let the games begin

Keep in mind that as in all games, there will always be winners and losers.

Airplane (370) (photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
Airplane (370)
(photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
Like the vast majority of readers, I’m no athlete.
Even though I’m perhaps a bit more active than some of you, by nature my wife would classify me as a couch potato. In fact when I did play basketball in school, mutterings of “white men can’t jump” were often overheard.
We are now in the midst of the great sports spectacle, the Summer Olympics, taking place in London. Never invited to participate, never able to afford to attend, I would still be remiss not to present my travel Gold Medals for several of the categories being telecast throughout the world.
Boxing has been part of the Summer Games since 1904, with a women’s category now introduced this summer.
Weaving and jabbing, mauling and parrying, the Gold Medal goes to the pilots of El Al.
Never describe them as palookas; El Al’s union has decided that a barrage of low blows is the way to win it all. El Al pilot’s have been given the privilege of flying friends or families on award tickets. This entitlement, common throughout the airline industry, permits pilots to garner space for friends or family on a flight of their employer’s airline.
El Al pilots have enjoyed a greater privilege than their air industry colleagues – these passengers have the right to displace, bump, paying clients from business or first class! Yes if a pilot’s family is trying to get on a specific flight, and there are revenue passengers, they will be asked to move.
Current management has asked the pilots to give up this unheard of in the airline industry benefit, as it runs the risk of reducing revenue from El Al. Not agreeing to waive this absurd perk, the pilots instead have resulted in delaying flights by showing up late, or calling in sick.
Of course, the identity of the imbeciles at El Al who first awarded the pilots this right has been absent from the reporting of these childish charades.
Suffice to say, that the El Al pilots, under a barrage of hits from every corner of the ring, remain steadfast in their stand. The Gold Medal, and hopefully early retirement is their reward.
Synchronized Swimming
Synchronized swimming is a hybrid form of swimming, dance and gymnastics, consisting of swimmers performing a synchronized routine of elaborate moves in the water, accompanied by music.
Synchronized swimming demands advanced water skills, and requires great strength, endurance, flexibility, grace, artistry and precise timing, as well as exceptional breath control when upside down underwater. It became an organized sport in the 1984 Summer Olympics. There have been to date, no drownings reported in the sport.
The Gold Medal is awarded to United Airlines in appreciation of its merger with Continental Airlines. In trying to navigate the choppy waters, United reported its second quarter earnings had dropped 37%. Still with a profit of $339 million, United has slowly begun to master the artistry of merging. As in their sport, their ultimate goal is to achieve a successful lift.
There are three parts for every lift: the flyer, the base and the pusher. The flyers of the combined airlines must be agile and flexible as they jump off the lift. The base must consist of a solid core while the pushers are the bigger stronger members of the team. Only working as a team can one perform a successful lift. Years of training and practice should have resulted in a smoother performance, but the Gold Medal for effort is their result.
Gymnastics have been contested at every Olympics since the inception of the modern games in 1896. Watching these superbly toned athletes compete in floor exercises and the rings, heroic vaults and parallel bars leaves one in amazement at how these individuals come together as a team to create pure entertainment.
The world’s airlines are no strangers in their gymnastics and in appreciation of their commitment to find and create new sources of profit, they collectively earn the Gold Medal.
Not complacent to simply fill their coffers from selling airline tickets, they have reached new heights by charging for basic items that were once part of their business model. In fact in 2011, they raked in over $22 billion dollars in additional charges just to transport you from one city to another.
The list is dizzying and impressive. Checking in one piece of luggage, in most countries, now costs a pretty penny. Most international flights are limited to one checked bag. Yes, veteran travelers have hit back with measures of their own. Arrange a credit card with an airline and you’ll be exempt. Become a very frequent flier with another airline and you too can avoid these onerous charges. Fly Southwest in the US and check in for free two bags.
Still, when you see an airline like Delta made over $2 billion dollar last years in ancillary fees, know that this vault has no limit. On board snacks and meals are now charged on most flights inside North America. Desire to board the plane first on some airlines means you need to pay for that benefit. Want to use your smart phone or tablet to check your email or go online? Wi-Fi fees will be collected. Some airlines are attempting to charge you to print your boarding pass at the airport. Their imagination runs wild and for their methods, the world’s airlines earn the Gold Medal.
Although tennis was part of the inaugural modern Olympics in 1896, it was dropped in 1924 and only brought back in the 1988 Summer Olympics.
While this year’s host nation, Great Britain, has never won a gold medal, her flag carrier, British Airways is hereby awarded the Gold Medal.
Through her deft strokes of volley and rally, her continental grip has resulted in playing both powerful backhands and smashes. With the recent swallowing of her competitor BMI into her vast network, BA should be able to score man the love in her future matches. Absorbing BMI’s routes, such as Seoul, will allow her to stretch her game further into the Far East.
Sadly for Israeli and British travelers used to flying on their Boeing aircraft between London and Tel Aviv, BA’s decision to absorb the BMI plane will result in many changes on this profitable route beginning in late October.
Dropping from their lexicon will be first class and economy plus. The Airbus 321 will offer only economy class and business class on her three times a day flights to and from London. Yes their business class will have lie flat beds, but the upper crust of British society will have to give up those first class seats.
BA’s desire not only to merge with Iberia but to remove BMI completely from their competition earns them the Gold Medal.
No doubt readers have their own list of medal winners, and while we enjoy the greatest spectacle on earth, keep in mind that as in all games, there will always be winners and losers. Our goal is to stay on the winning side.
Mark Feldman is the CEO of Ziontours Jerusalem.

For questions & comments, email him at