Two and a half men: The tale of another Charley

The Travel Adviser: Think ahead and be flexible when making your plans, or you too could end up like two and a half men!

el al plane 298.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
el al plane 298.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Chas could hold his liquor better than anyone I knew. I get tipsy after saying Kiddush, but Charley drank often and easily well beyond any normal man’s limit. So last Sunday when he ambled in with his brother and nephew at an hour when he would usually be horizontal I was taken aback. He sauntered in past my receptionist and planted himself in front of my desk.
“The time has come to talk of things, to wax poetic glee, with Passover soon approaching, it’s time we focus on me.”
His brother had intimated to me that the three of them wanted to visit the US as he had a very strong inkling this would be the last time the three of them would travel together.
His son, Jake was in high school. It was quite clear to Alan that big brother Charley would be footing the bill. The US was their destination, their choice of dates were very limited – April 17-April 27.
Money was no object, with Charley’s maxim being that the flights had to be safe, secure – and hopefully liquor was served. Of course, he would fly in business class, while Alan and his son would fly economy.
Charley had some ties to Los Angeles, claimed he was loved all over the city, so his idea was that they would fly to LA, explore California, with Charley no doubt finding time to visit Las Vegas.
Alan, on the other hand, was East Coast all the way; a Big Apple fix was what he desired. He always fancied himself a bit of a thespian and wanted to partake of New York culture by attending some Broadway shows. Charley wasn’t opposed, pointing out that getting a ticket to see the Knicks’ latest roster would be easier than snagging seats to a Lakers game.
Jake though opined that London should at least be considered; the thought of flying more than five or six hours concerned him.
Plus he had been to the US so many times, he figured London would offer something different.
I strenuously pointed out that making plans for Pessah one month before the Seder meant that all the specials had most likely been taken.
Adamant that I give him options, a chart was prepared listing the top choices. Keeping in mind that this trio showed little flexibility on their dates, here’s the skivvy on what exists to fly to LA or New York or London from April 17-27. No doubt some readers can come up with other options, but it was obvious to me that their attention span could only absorb five options to each city.
LOS ANGELES: Only one airline flies non-stop to Israel – El Al. Its 15- and-a-half hour flight would set Charley back $5,114 in business class.
As is my wont, I always quote prices with every tax known to mankind included, so $1,985 is what they get for economy class; while 17-year-old Jake was eligible for the youth discount at $1,845.
With a sardonic grin, Charley asked what would happen if they didn’t fly nonstop; how much would business class set him back. Alitalia via Rome was “only” $2,910; Delta via New York came in at $3,705; and US Airways via Philly was $3,989. Least expensive economy class to LA was with Continental, via Newark, at $1,975. Alitalia, via Rome, and Delta were $2,234, while Lufthansa via Rome wanted $2,296.
Alan sat rigid as he was taken aback by the fares, meekly asking about New York. I was ready with the figures.
“You’re in luck,” I said. “The least expensive flights happen to be non-stop. Continental to Newark wants $1,487 for each adult and youth; Delta to JFK wants $1,602 for an adult and $1,535 for a teen; El Al with several flights to choose from came out at $1,665 for an adult and $1,558 for Jake.”
Charley’s head bobbed vigorously and it was clear he felt that I should have given him the business class quote first. With Delta and Continental more than $7,600, I laid his options as a grin crossed my face.
“Feeling hungry?” I asked. “Then take Malev via Budapest for $4,506. Viva Espana gives you Iberia through Madrid for $5,101. Non-stop on El Al will cost you $5,113.”
Now over the years, Jake usually manages only a vacuous stare when I see him, but he summoned the courage to ask about London.

For Charley, his business class ticket would cost $1,358 with El Al and a whopping $1,730 with British Airways. Even flying via Europe would not beat El Al’s fare.
In economy class, El Al also beat out the rest at $809 for an adult ticket with Jake’s ticket costing $769. BA on these dates wanted $1,180 each. They could fly on Easy Jet, the charter to Luton. Space could be had for $719.
Too many options with no clear direction, so with a belch and a guffaw Charley bolted from his seat. He ran out of my office, muttering that this year he may just stay put.
The names have been changed to protect the guilty. The figures quoted are, for better or worse, spot on. The moral of this tale is twofold: Think ahead and be flexible when making your plans, or you too could end up like two and a half men!
The writer is the CEO of Ziontours, Jerusalem.

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