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Arava Border/Rabin Terminal to Tel Aviv

Arava Border/Rabin Terminal to Tel Aviv

Old May 4, 19, 7:52 pm
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Arava Border/Rabin Terminal to Tel Aviv

Hi! I'm in the final stages of planning the trip for my mother and me to Jordan and Israel later this month. We are visiting Jordan before joining a tour of the Holy Land, which starts in Tel Aviv. We are both US passport holders, we will have hand luggage and US sized rollerboards (eg, too large to hand carry on a non-US carrier!) and will be crossing the border on a Sunday. The Holy Land tour starts on a Monday morning; I'd like to minimize travel time and get to Tel Aviv with time to relax.

Getting from Wadi Rum to Tel Aviv is causing me quite a bit of stress. It seems fastest to cross into Israel at Rabin Terminal and fly from ETM-TLV/SDV. Given all the unknowns with respect to travel time, I'm struggling with which flight to book.

Our Wadi Rum camp is in the desert and the camp transfers guests to Wadi Rum Village for onward travel. I'm learning that Wadi Rum is not a place of precision. The camp tells me transfers take place "after breakfast." I assume this means we could be on the road by 9am and get to Aqaba at 10am

- We are staying at the Dan Panorama in Tel Aviv. The hotel concierge says SDV is 15 minutes away and TLV is 30 minutes away. Which airport is faster to get out of (including baggage reclaim)? ETM-TLV has more flights but if TLV is a beast to navigate, perhaps ETM-SDV is a better option.

- What are the ticket change policies with Arkia and Israir? Are change fees as high as US change fees of $200? I don't see anything on the Arkia website prior to booking that tells me about change fees or the option to buy a flexible ticket. I dare not try to decipher Israir's website as I don't know Hebrew ... There are a lot of flights between Eilat and Tel Aviv, would we be crazy to buy tickets the day of travel once we know what the border crossing situation is like?

- If we commit to a later flight to Tel Aviv, where should we spend the extra time? How much extra time would we need for an Eilat visit? We will have our luggage. Is the Ramon Airport a pleasant place to wait (the building looks beautiful!)?

Thank you!
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Old May 4, 19, 9:59 pm
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Having just walked across that same border on my trip from Petra back (home) to Israel a few months ago, I can tell you that the border itself is not particularly efficient on the Jordanian side, either, so I wouldn't count on precision timing. The ETM airport just opened a few weeks ago, and while I'm sure it's a beautiful building, it may not be a place you'd want to spend hours and hours.

A couple of points:

1) There are buses to Tel Aviv from Eilat, They take about 5 hours or so.

2) SDV is much faster and closer to where you are going in Tel Aviv - both in terms of getting your luggage (it's a tiny airport) and in terms of getting into town (also price-wise for taxis)

3) The border crossing is about a $10-12 cab ride from central Eilat so worst case you could hang out in town. There is a large air conditioned shopping mall called the Ice Mall (there's an ice skating rink there) for example and then you could theoretically get a taxi from there to the Airport. (Download the "Gett" taxi app for use in Israel - licensed taxis and you can pay by credit card). There are a number of hotels as well that you can take a taxi to and then walk around the promenade. Worth noting on the shopping side that while there generally isn't such great shopping in Israel (prices are typically higher than in the USA) Eilat is often cheaper than Tel Aviv as it is a Tax-free zone for VAT.

4)You can also rent a car and drive to Tel Aviv in about 4 hours nonstop. The drive through the desert is quite beautiful and depending on which way you go, you can either stop at the Dead Sea, at the Ramon Crater (Mitzpe Ramon) to break up the trip. I live in the Tel Aviv area and when coming back from Jordan I did it this way - just got a one way rental car in Eilat and dropped it off near home. The car rental company won't care if you show up a little later than your reservation time and you don't need to worry about a cab to the airport, going through security, waiting for your luggage, etc. It looks like both Eldan and Sixt have rental returns next to the Dan Panorama. Not sure where the agencies are located anymore in Eilat as they both used to be across the street from ETH but now that they have opened ETM I don't know if they have two locations in Eilat (one in town and one at ETM) or have all moved to ETM.

In your place, if I were traveling alone I'd book an afternoon flight to SDV and worst case either hang out in town or at the airport for a couple of hours or if in a group (like I recently did with my wife and kids) just rent a car and drive. As a group of two I guess it just depends on what you prefer.
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Last edited by NYTA; May 4, 19 at 10:11 pm
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Old May 5, 19, 5:29 am
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Just to add on the great summary by @NYTA, as a foreigner (and I assume here NYTA holds an Israeli passport if he lives in TLV) you might also get extra scrutiny on the Israeli side, either at security or immigration (or both), and most likely extra security at ETM if you choose to fly, this all can add quite a lot of extra time to your journey.

While I haven't crossed there in couple of years, I did it quite often several years ago and on both sides of the border it was sometimes as quick as 5 minutes or as painfully slow as 1-2hrs if you get stuck behind a tour group.
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Old May 5, 19, 5:35 pm
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Most tourists go,through security in under 5 minutes. I travel back and forth to Israel on my American passport without problems. The trick is to be polite, honest and patient. If you show attitude security will want to figure out why. Questions may appear to be nonsensical and repetitive. Just go with it! If you are a legitimate tourist you shouldn’t have problems.
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Old May 5, 19, 8:32 pm
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NYTA, Ditto and awayIgo, thank you all so much for your advice.
NYTA - I am so appreciative of your thoughtful and comprehensive review of the options to get from the Aqaba / Eilat crossing to Tel Aviv! Thank you so much.
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Old May 6, 19, 2:33 am
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Originally Posted by awayIgo View Post
Most tourists go,through security in under 5 minutes. I travel back and forth to Israel on my American passport without problems. The trick is to be polite, honest and patient. If you show attitude security will want to figure out why. Questions may appear to be nonsensical and repetitive. Just go with it! If you are a legitimate tourist you shouldn’t have problems.
Flying in/out TLV airport is one thing, and border crossing is another.
For some reason they seem to flag tourists who enter the country via land borders for extra scrutiny at airports. (to the extent that a friend who has been several times to IL via TLV and had no issues got the "full security treatment" the single time she entered from Jordan, which on top of questioning and hand baggage search included delaying her check-in bags for 2 extra days)
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Old May 7, 19, 11:53 am
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Originally Posted by Ditto View Post
Flying in/out TLV airport is one thing, and border crossing is another.
For some reason they seem to flag tourists who enter the country via land borders for extra scrutiny at airports. (to the extent that a friend who has been several times to IL via TLV and had no issues got the "full security treatment" the single time she entered from Jordan, which on top of questioning and hand baggage search included delaying her check-in bags for 2 extra days)
This may be common, but it's not universal. When we crossed into Israel at Aqaba/Eilat in March 2017 (five minutes, BTW, if it took even that long) we had no unusual scrutiny leaving via TLV ten days later. (We've left via TLV enough times to have a good sense for what the usual scrutiny is.) Of course, things could have changed in two years, and it could be that we're not in the demographic for which they care about where one enters the country.
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Old May 8, 19, 8:50 am
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Another option is, of course, to take a taxi from Wadi Rum to Amman airport, and fly from there to Tel Aviv. That would mean no security to worry about until you're actually at the airport, which means that it's easier to time your arrival at the airport.
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Old May 8, 19, 3:11 pm
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Originally Posted by Efrem View Post
This may be common, but it's not universal. When we crossed into Israel at Aqaba/Eilat in March 2017 (five minutes, BTW, if it took even that long) we had no unusual scrutiny leaving via TLV ten days later. (We've left via TLV enough times to have a good sense for what the usual scrutiny is.) Of course, things could have changed in two years, and it could be that we're not in the demographic for which they care about where one enters the country.
Of course nothing is "universal" about TLV security, it's just a couple of data points I have which seems to suggest that entering via Jordan/Egypt is rather likely to increase the security hassle in TLV.
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Old Jun 12, 19, 12:03 pm
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Hi friends, my mother and I crossed the border from Jordan to Israel easily. We arrived at the Jordanian border a little before 9am on a Sunday. Passport control on both sides was very light and it took us about 30 minutes to exit the Jordanian side and enter the Israeli side. Despite having stamps from Islamic countries, including the UAE, we did not encounter additional questioning at the Israeli border or at the airports.

We chose to fly Arkia to get from Eilat to Tel Aviv. The process could not have been easier. There were taxis in the parking lot on the Israeli side of the border; the ride took about 20 minutes. We got to Ramon airport far earlier than the flight I had booked. The Arkia agent at the ticketing counter re-booked us onto earlier flight. No change fees, not fare difference, no standby fees - what a pleasant surprise versus changing flights in the US!

We returned to the US via Tel Aviv. This pre-check in security was even speedier than what we experienced at Ramon airport. We did not have any difficulties despite other stamps in our passports and entering Israel via a land crossing.

I think the biggest takeaway for other travelers is the ease of flying from Eilat to Tel Aviv. I had spoken with an Arkia customer service representative over the phone about change fees. The customer service rep told me that if they change your flight over the phone, you might be subject to paying a fare difference and a EUR5 change fee (each one way ticket cost EUR55). The phone rep told me airport agents have more flexibility with respect to re-accommodating passengers (we made our changes at the airport). The airport is bright and airy and the flight was speedy and comfortable.
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Old Jun 13, 19, 1:52 am
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missko, glad your experience went well!

NYTA provided a great rundown, and just for people checking this thread out in the future, thought I'd add that:

Eldan has one branch in the city of Eilat. Sixt (generally NOT recommended) has two Eilat branches, one in the city and one at the new Ramon airport.

Arkia strangely doesn't list their fees in any clear manner on their site. Israir claims that a full price ticket (NIS 377 Eilat-Tel Aviv), you can change/cancel up to 2 hours before the flight for no fee.
For a discounted ticket, up to 1 week before, the fee is NIS 35. From 1 week until 2 hours, it's NIS 60.
Less than 2 hours before, no refund.
And in all cases, on top of fee, you must pay the difference in fare (only applies in discounted tickets, not full price).
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Old Jun 13, 19, 3:01 am
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Originally Posted by joshwex90 View Post
missko, glad your experience went well!

NYTA provided a great rundown, and just for people checking this thread out in the future, thought I'd add that:

Eldan has one branch in the city of Eilat. Sixt (generally NOT recommended) has two Eilat branches, one in the city and one at the new Ramon airport.

Arkia strangely doesn't list their fees in any clear manner on their site. Israir claims that a full price ticket (NIS 377 Eilat-Tel Aviv), you can change/cancel up to 2 hours before the flight for no fee.
For a discounted ticket, up to 1 week before, the fee is NIS 35. From 1 week until 2 hours, it's NIS 60.
Less than 2 hours before, no refund.
And in all cases, on top of fee, you must pay the difference in fare (only applies in discounted tickets, not full price).
I find both Israir and Arkia airpot agents to be extremely flexible, both with changing to an earlier flight and with not charging for extra weight, though I only have about 3 or 4 data points from the last 6 years
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Old Jun 13, 19, 4:25 am
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Originally Posted by Ditto View Post
I find both Israir and Arkia airpot agents to be extremely flexible, both with changing to an earlier flight and with not charging for extra weight, though I only have about 3 or 4 data points from the last 6 years
I have also found that to be the case with Arkia for domestic flights. Have you found the same with international flights?
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Old Jun 13, 19, 5:31 am
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Originally Posted by joshwex90 View Post
I have also found that to be the case with Arkia for domestic flights. Have you found the same with international flights?
I never flew with them internationally, so no idea.
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