Travel Adviser: Awake all ye sinners - It’s time to repent

On Yom Kippur, I feel it’s incumbent to offer my heartfelt suggestion to individuals and groups that need to ask forgiveness.

The Days of Awe. The Day of Atonement. Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the year for the Jewish people. Its central theme is one of repentance and atonement. When I think of repentance, several factors come to mind:
• First and foremost, one must regret and acknowledge the sin.
• One should be cognizant of the consequences of the sin.
• One must act and speak with humility.
• One must attempt to correct the sin however possible.
Of late, I’ve been asking forgiveness for all my transgressions of commission or omission during the past year, but feel it’s incumbent at this time of year to offer my heartfelt suggestion to other individuals and groups that have yet to sincerely repent, to do likewise.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, although not Jewish, needs to confess his sins to the entire world.
His rabid anti-Israel remarks, which reek of anti-Semitism, have led to an almost complete cessation of Israeli tourism to Turkey.
Constantly reported, ad nauseam, is that the Israeli tourist constitutes but a small percentage to Turkey’s overall economy. However, what is forgotten is our purchasing power; shopping is often the number one goal of the Israeli traveler, and Turkish shopkeepers and hoteliers have complained bitterly about their loss of income. I hold no hopes that Erdogan will send Israel a belated New Year’s greeting, but a sincere apology for the damage he’s done to his business community is way overdue.
While no signs of humility have been seen from Erdogan, his consistent attacks have resonated with potential passengers, who try to avoid even flying Turkish Airlines. Although turning the other cheek may be a Christian concept, his stiff-necked approach of looking to the East while attacking the West is a sin whose future consequence remains unknown.
El Al
El Al has declared a full-out assault on the shopping habits of their travelers.
Not content with their inability to upgrade their business seats on their long-haul flights, El Al recently announced that come November 1, the vast majority of their clients on flights to North America will now have to pay $70 for a second checked bag. Give their public relations department full kudos: the press release was titled, “Changes and Improvements in Baggage Policy.”
However, a quick perusal revealed that unless you’re a very frequent flier your days of checking in two bags on flights to the US & Canada are quickly coming to an end.
To El Al’s credit, many international airlines also charge for the second checked bag – yet many others do not. A few, like US AIR, have refused pressure and at this stage still permit passengers to fly for no extra cost with two checked bags.
El Al needs to be a leader, not a follower; already a rumbling on Facebook has bubbled to the surface calling on passengers to boycott El Al over this new policy. Clients with large families as well as those clients who truly enjoy shopping in the US have already begun to check out alternative airlines for when this shortsighted policy kicks in next month.
Once more with sincerity... it’s not too late to correct the sin, El Al.
Airlines, in general, have a firm policy of promoting the purchase of flights far in advance, and of pushing passengers to do so.
The logic of this policy is simple: convince the consumer to part with his money far in advance, intimating the fare is too good to be true, and certainly won’t last.
Not to quibble with this policy, but ask yourself what happens if, once purchased, the passenger needs to make a change? Almost exclusively, airlines throughout the world follow a simple dictum – If the fare has gone up prior to your departure and you make a change, you will need to pay the difference. What happens, as is more usual of late, if the fare drops? Too bad, say the airlines, tough luck, say the clerks, no way says their finance department, no refund of the difference in fare is permitted. Incessantly I’ve tried to get the airlines to acknowledge this sin; only to be laughed at for my naiveté.
Next, let’s look at those purveyors of pleasure, those wholesalers of purported wisdom, who create packages of delectable delights whereby clients get both their ticket & hotel all wrapped up in one shiny package.
Far too often for my palate, clients arrive at their destination, show up at the prearranged hotel, only to be told “Sorry, we’re sold out!” How is it in these days of almost instant communication the wholesaler has no inkling the hotel they packaged with a flight was sold out? Do they believe the client won’t notice the hotel has been switched and patiently accept being tossed around like dirty laundry? This sin of omission drives me batty and rarely ends on a positive note. Usually, upon return the client asks for compensation and the tepid response is a small discount on their next reservation.
Hard cash is rarely proffered; more often than not they taunt you to sue them, knowing any judgement will be covered by their insurance policy. Whether it’s avarice or incompetence matters less than my plea – confess your sin.
This leads me to the last group that must dig deep and realize the error of their ways: The prototypical Israeli traveler. It starts with their inability to stay seated on a plane. Rather than get up to visit the lavatory or stretch their legs, their base impulse requires them to stand in the aisle talking loudly to their fellow travelers.
Requests from the flight attendants to take their seats so they can serve meals is met with a hearty guffaw.
At hotels throughout the world, the Israeli traveler is not always welcome.
The younger ones show little respect for the decibel levels of their incessant partying in the hotel rooms while their parents believe that the toiletries in the bathroom are part of their room rates and, along with bath towels and linen, can be repatriated to Israel.
Competing only with Americans, I’ve often been embarrassed by their loud voices and near obnoxious behavior in the dining hall. Why they feel that the breakfast spread means they can make sandwiches for lunch is something I’ve never been able to fathom. Unadorned pride is a sin best avoided, and for Israelis to show some humility when abroad will have positive results.
No doubt, readers will offer more groups and individuals that need to ask forgiveness for their sins. I don’t want to preach to the converted; I want to convert those I’m preaching to.
Mark Feldman is the CEO of Ziontours, Jerusalem.

For questions & comments, email him at