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Best way to TLV or Eilat via Eastern Europe or Turkey?

Best way to TLV or Eilat via Eastern Europe or Turkey?

Old Mar 29, 13, 1:48 pm
  #1  
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Best way to TLV or Eilat via Eastern Europe or Turkey?

Hello, I am relatively new to Flyertalk and have only just started accumulating miles and points. I may not have enough for a September trip, and if I do not, I can buy tickets and use the miles/points for future travel. I am hoping that some of the veterans here can suggest the best ways to do the following:

Late August 2013 - Leave PDX (Portland, OR) for a city in eastern Europe or Turkey
Sept. 2 or 3 - arrive at TLV or ETH (the Eilat airport) in Israel
Around Sept. 23 - Fly from Israel back to PDX, possibly with a stop for a few days in ????

Rosh Hashanah starts on the evening of Sept. 4, and we want to arrive at Kibbutz Yahel around Sept. 3. The kibbutz is about 40 minutes north of Eilat and a few hours south of TLV.

I have flown to TLV many times but always directly from the states. I have never been to eastern Europe or Turkey. I will be traveling with my husband.

Starting in late November, my husband and I opened accts to get bonuses from US Airways MC Barclays, Hilton Amex, Chase Sapphire Preferred, Hilton Citi, AA Citi, and Club Carlson. I opened a US Airways MC Barclays. Once we finish our latest round of minimum spends (late April/early May) I will open a few more cards in my name. Here are our current miles/points balances, meager as they are:

Me:
AA 28,378
US 40,072 (plus 15,000 after completing extra spend to get more points)
Under 10,000 each in SW, Delta, UA

Husband:
Delta 48,914
AA 14,292 (plus 30,000 after completing spend for new card)
US 40,241
Hilton 88,596 (plus 50,000 after finishing spend for new card)
Points on old cc: 30,045
Chase Sapphire 48,000
Club Carlson (will have 85,000 plus points soon)

While I hope that as I acquire more and more points that I can in the future travel Business class, I am fine to go coach this time. I am also OK to pay for well priced tickets rather than scramble to acquire enough points in time. My thought given the balances I have is to probably pay for flights and use points for some of the hotels, but I'd love your expert advice on:

1) a good city to stop for 4-6 days before going to Israel
2) best way to get from PDX to that city
3) best way to get from that city to TLV or Eilat airport ETH
4) best way to get home directly from Israel or with a stop in ????
5) best cards to consider for me to apply for in April/May (I am thinking the AMEX AA for 50,000; the Chase Sapphire Preferred for 40,000 and a hotel card or two, depending on minimum spends)

While we do not have much flexibility re: arrival date on the kibbutz - Sept. 3 is best, Sept 2 next and early on Sept. 4 do-able only if necessary - we do have flexibility on the date we'll leave PDX (August 25 or 26, plus or minus a day or so on either side) and the date we'll come home (Sept. 23 plus or minus a day or so on either side).

A friend who is a few months ahead of me in the points/miles game suggested booking roundtrip tickets to eastern Europe or Turkey, and then finding a charter/cheap flight from there to Israel. Is there another better/cheaper way to do this trip?

Thanks so much for any advice/help you can offer!
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Old Mar 29, 13, 3:41 pm
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I believe with the exception of ElAl most all the other flights to ETH are charters and most if not all usually fly there during Europes winter

So you would basically be flyinginto TLV and can either buy a tkt to ETH from 1 of the Israeli Carriers that fly there, rent a car for what would be apx a 5 hourish drive or go into TelAviv and get a bus from the Central Bus Station(probably longest way)

ElAl flys to many Eastern European Countrys and alot of the national carriers fly to TLV, Czech,LOT,Croatian,Tarom thats besides tons of LCCs and charters.

As for using your pts generally it takes 80k for a free Coach tkt and AA doesnt allow stop overs. Although UA and DL do DL will take millions of miles and UA I dont know if you will beable to get them fast enough to grab the few seats that may open up. You may be able to get say a Eastern Europe to TLV on miles or pay for a 1 way cheap tkt and fly back to the US straight from Israel to help reduce the overall cost.But the time you want to fly to TLV will be Peak demand. *Also if you do go the 2 tkt way bear in mind you will be very restricted to what you can take as your checked bag Europe-TLV Turkish must have like a dz flights a day from IST as does another turkish carrier

I would say teh 1st thing you should do is decidie where you want to go, then check which Carrier flys to TLV from there and it most likely will be a *A or ST Member so you should beable to use UA miles for a 1 way tkt

But Id make up a list of places and to see what it would cost to get there as well from here. ( I fly often to LA but will go into San Diego, or Vegas depending not only on the cheapest fare but also when I add in the cost of the car that it still is cheapest,at times the cheapest fare city will have the most expensive car rental ) So too you must look at the total picture.
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Old Mar 29, 13, 5:44 pm
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Originally Posted by craz View Post
I believe with the exception of ElAl most all the other flights to ETH are charters and most if not all usually fly there during Europes winter
....

*Also if you do go the 2 tkt way bear in mind you will be very restricted to what you can take as your checked bag Europe-TLV Turkish must have like a dz flights a day from IST as does another turkish carrier
....
Thanks so much for your reply. So perhaps the way to start, if we want to fly from Turkey or Eastern Europe to Eilat, is to see whether there are any flights in early Sept. that do that. I would prefer going into ETH than TLV if possible.

Why would we be restricted re: checked bags from E Europe to Israel? Do charters limit that?

Thanks again!
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Old Mar 29, 13, 6:24 pm
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Just remembered that there is another airport near Eilat. Here what Wikipedia has to say about it:

Ovda Airport is served by seven international carriers and three domestic airlines, serving several destinations in Europe and Israel. The airport is also used as a substitute for the inner Eilat airport in different situations.

Airlines
Destinations

Aeroflot
Moscow-Sheremetyevo

Air Mediterranee
Seasonal: Paris-Charles de Gaulle

Arkefly
Seasonal: Amsterdam

Arkia Israel Airlines
Haifa, Tel Aviv-Sde Dov
Seasonal: Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Tel Aviv-Ben Gurion

Corendon Dutch Airlines
Seasonal: Amsterdam

Enter Air
Warsaw-Chopin

El Al
Seasonal: Paris-Charles de Gaulle

Finnair
Seasonal: Helsinki

Primera Air
Seasonal: Gothenburg-Landvetter [begins 9 May 2013], Helsinki, Malmo [begins 9 May 2013]

Rossiya
Seasonal: Saint Petersburg

VIM Airlines
Moscow-Domodedovo


Not sure how much help this will be but it is another possibility.
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Old Mar 29, 13, 11:47 pm
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Thought I'd just check what US Airways offered me in the buy/gift miles offer I got, which I'd need to respond to by March 31. Turns out I can buy miles with a 100% bonus and my husband can buy them for 75% bonus.

From the US Airways chart, we would each need 80,000 miles each to get from PDX to Israel (TLV) and we could have a stop at a hub. Istanbul is a hub for Turkish Airlines. Is it reasonable to think that we could find award space on the dates we'd need it, given the Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) holiday which could impact flying from Istanbul to TLV?

If so, am I allowed to buy myself miles and also gift some to my husband using my 100% bonus? He'd need 40,000 and I'd need 25,000, which means I'd buy myself 13,000 miles for $455 and buy him 20,000 for $700.

I'd hate to buy the miles only to find I can't get the award space....

------------------

Scratch the above!! I think it is probably best to not buy the miles, because doing so gives us a lot less flexibility. Plus some of the air ticket expense will be deductible for my husband. Probably better to pay now, thereby continuing to accumulate miles, which will help us do award travel next time around.

I found a ticket from PDX to IST for about $950. What I don't know is what a ticket on a charter from IST to Israel will cost. I am not set on Istanbul; just wanted to start looking somewhere.

Can anyone recommend a reputable charter company with a website in English?

Thanks!

Last edited by TWA44; Mar 30, 13 at 12:05 am Reason: thinking it through some more...
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Old Mar 30, 13, 10:05 pm
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Originally Posted by TWA44 View Post
Thought I'd just check what US Airways offered me in the buy/gift miles offer I got, which I'd need to respond to by March 31. Turns out I can buy miles with a 100% bonus and my husband can buy them for 75% bonus.

From the US Airways chart, we would each need 80,000 miles each to get from PDX to Israel (TLV) and we could have a stop at a hub. Istanbul is a hub for Turkish Airlines. Is it reasonable to think that we could find award space on the dates we'd need it, given the Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) holiday which could impact flying from Istanbul to TLV?

If so, am I allowed to buy myself miles and also gift some to my husband using my 100% bonus? He'd need 40,000 and I'd need 25,000, which means I'd buy myself 13,000 miles for $455 and buy him 20,000 for $700.

I'd hate to buy the miles only to find I can't get the award space....

------------------

Scratch the above!! I think it is probably best to not buy the miles, because doing so gives us a lot less flexibility. Plus some of the air ticket expense will be deductible for my husband. Probably better to pay now, thereby continuing to accumulate miles, which will help us do award travel next time around.

I found a ticket from PDX to IST for about $950. What I don't know is what a ticket on a charter from IST to Israel will cost. I am not set on Istanbul; just wanted to start looking somewhere.

Can anyone recommend a reputable charter company with a website in English?

Thanks!
You can use US or UA miles and its 17,500 per person in Coach and you fly on TK or 35k r/t or price out an open jaw PDX-IST & TLV-PDX
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Old Mar 31, 13, 8:47 am
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TK: istanbul to Aqaba

You may want to consider the flight from IST-Aqaba on TK. Aqaba is immediately across the border from Eilat. Gives you a chance to experience IST if you have the time.
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Old Mar 31, 13, 10:42 am
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Originally Posted by cagcag View Post
You may want to consider the flight from IST-Aqaba on TK. Aqaba is immediately across the border from Eilat. Gives you a chance to experience IST if you have the time.
I dont believe that TK flys everyday to AQJ, so in order for the OP to be where they want to be on 9/4 they would have to fly on 9/1 from IST. RJ also flys but via a very long layover @ AMM
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Old Mar 31, 13, 1:12 pm
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Originally Posted by craz View Post
You can use US or UA miles and its 17,500 per person in Coach and you fly on TK or 35k r/t or price out an open jaw PDX-IST & TLV-PDX
Craz, thanks. Just to be sure I am understanding you correctly, you mean flying on UA (because US does not allow one-ways). Also, I would be flying at peak time. I have not checked UA - although your post made me realize I could move some Sapphire points to UA and I should check into that - but would r/t really be 35K at peak time on TK? If so that would be fabulous. Although I don't have enough Sapphire points right now for two tickets. I suppose I could also consider getting a United cc with a bonus or a Sapphire card in my own name. Gotta review what cards I had planned on for my next AOR, and their various minimum spends, to see if that might work.

Originally Posted by cagcag View Post
You may want to consider the flight from IST-Aqaba on TK. Aqaba is immediately across the border from Eilat. Gives you a chance to experience IST if you have the time.
Thanks, Cagcag. That is interesting! I have been to Aqaba but only passing through en route to Petra from Eilat. I never would have thought of that. While it may not work for this trip, having relatives who live very near Eilat, this is a very good option for my travel toolbox!

Originally Posted by craz View Post
I dont believe that TK flys everyday to AQJ, so in order for the OP to be where they want to be on 9/4 they would have to fly on 9/1 from IST. RJ also flys but via a very long layover @ AMM
Thanks, Craz. Traveling on 9/1 may be doable but probably not our first choice. Ditto for a long layover in AMM.

In the past I have just called an airline or checked their website to book an award ticket. Since getting more seriously into this game in late November 2012, I have read about the many other options for better, if more complicated ways to book award tickets. So I registered last night to be able to use ANA and hope to figure it out today. Not having any miles in ANA, I need to use the workaround. I am a bit overwhelmed and wonder if I should just consider a booking service, but I realize in the scheme of things this is a very simple booking. And if I want to really play this game, I had better move from learning how to accumulate points to learning how to use them!

Thanks again and if anyone has any more thoughts, I am happy to hear them!
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Old Mar 31, 13, 1:36 pm
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Aqaba/Sharm-el-Sheikh

Originally Posted by craz View Post
I dont believe that TK flys everyday to AQJ, so in order for the OP to be where they want to be on 9/4 they would have to fly on 9/1 from IST. RJ also flys but via a very long layover @ AMM
You are correct. Flights from IST to AQJ are only on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays, with return on those same days. TK flights from IST to SHARM EL-SHEİKH operate on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays, with returns on those same days, if that is thought to be of interest to the OP.

Last edited by cagcag; Mar 31, 13 at 1:37 pm Reason: .
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Old Mar 31, 13, 2:51 pm
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Originally Posted by cagcag View Post
You are correct. Flights from IST to AQJ are only on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays, with return on those same days. TK flights from IST to SHARM EL-SHEİKH operate on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays, with returns on those same days, if that is thought to be of interest to the OP.
I wouldnt touch Sharm with a 100 mile pole, way too many problems from many different partys in Egypt now. Dont even know if an Egpytian is safe.

AQJ should be OK , if the days TK flys works for the OP

* OP you are correct US only allows r/t's and not 1 ways. But if you were going to get ar/t tkt then via US is doable.

I would price out a PDX-IST & TLV-PDX tkt to compare it to the fare for a PDX-IST-PDX and then decide which is the best & cheapest way to book everything. Unfortuantely I dont know the sites for Charters. But 17,500 per person on TK using UA miles isnt a bad deal since its a very expensive tkt if not buyinga r/t. Then you will have to decide how to get to TLV from ETH fly or bus it, but before getting the TK tkt know the Fares for that since at times a 1way may be aot more then a r/t tkt, if it will be 1/2 of a r/t thats not too bad.

Theres alot to juggle around and I hope Ive been able to give you some help in setting yourself up to do just that. In the end only you can decide when it makes sense to use Miles or $$$, and what days you are willing to fly
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Old Mar 31, 13, 3:17 pm
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Thanks again, very helpful.

So I just looked on Aeroplan's award website since I saw a post someplace on FT suggesting it as a more user friendly tool than ANA. And I see award availability on a r/t flight from PDX to IST on UA and TK. It requires 75,000 Aeroplan miles which I do not have. But assuming I had enough award miles on US Airways or United - based on their award chart for partner award tickets - I could just contact those airlines and book it?

Any reason to prefer ANA over Aeroplan when looking for award bookings?

Thanks again.
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Old Apr 20, 13, 6:03 pm
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Narrowing down my options

Hello again,

Having decided to not do this trip with miles/points, and not to consider a charter between IST and TLV, I have been playing around with the ITA search engine, and found flights on Turkish Airlines as follows:

JFK to IST on August 22
IST to TLV on Sept. 1
TLV to PDX on Sept. 15

at a cost of $1183. The times are very good and the first two are nonstop; the last stops once. For another hundred bucks we could go on days that meet our needs better. We'd do the PDX-NY-PDX piece using the US Airways companion pass that came with the US Airways CC, paying for one ticket and getting the second for $99. That will add another $325 or $330 to the fare, unless I can find something cheaper (haven't looked yet). It also offers the possibility of a stop in NYC.

Considering that we are flying at peak time (summer plus Jewish holidays) is a fare of @$1500 that bad to go PDX-NYC-IST-TLV-NYC-PDX ??

Also, what is the best way to book a paid ticket on Turkish Airways?

Thanks much!

BTW - I did check Aqaba and it was a lot more expensive.
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Old Apr 21, 13, 8:56 am
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Sept 14 is Yom Kippur and the entire country will be shut down until 7:30 PM. There will be absolutely no transportation available that day until that hour. Plan accordingly.
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Old Apr 21, 13, 10:43 am
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Originally Posted by TWA44 View Post
Hello again,

Having decided to not do this trip with miles/points, and not to consider a charter between IST and TLV, I have been playing around with the ITA search engine, and found flights on Turkish Airlines as follows:

JFK to IST on August 22
IST to TLV on Sept. 1
TLV to PDX on Sept. 15

at a cost of $1183. The times are very good and the first two are nonstop; the last stops once. For another hundred bucks we could go on days that meet our needs better. We'd do the PDX-NY-PDX piece using the US Airways companion pass that came with the US Airways CC, paying for one ticket and getting the second for $99. That will add another $325 or $330 to the fare, unless I can find something cheaper (haven't looked yet). It also offers the possibility of a stop in NYC.

Considering that we are flying at peak time (summer plus Jewish holidays) is a fare of @$1500 that bad to go PDX-NYC-IST-TLV-NYC-PDX ??

Also, what is the best way to book a paid ticket on Turkish Airways?

Thanks much!

BTW - I did check Aqaba and it was a lot more expensive.
I personally wouldnt do a US tkt PDX-XYZ-PDX and a 2nd tkt for the intl portion. Unless you do a overnight @ XYZ on each end. If for any reason you get delayed and miss the Outbound of the 2nd tkt (Intl) you are SOL

In addition you will be hit hard for bag fees all around. Id look at purchasing the whole Itin on 1 tkt as an ins policy.
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