Summer Planning: SFO(-EWR)-TLV

Old May 13, 20, 9:06 am
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Summer Planning: SFO(-EWR)-TLV

Hello fellow FTers,

My family and I are planning to relocate from the west coast to Israel this summer and I'm confronting the daunting prospect of figuring out our flight plan. I could use your thoughts, strategies, and crystal ball gazing to support my process.

Our ideal timing is around August 1, though we have some flexibility to leave earlier - perhaps as soon as July 1. Although Israel is opening back up and some flights are resuming, I don't expect SFO-TLV to start operating again in our timeframe, and so we'd be looking at SFO-EWR-TLV.

The situation as of today appears rather amenable for the following reasons:
  1. SFO-EWR and EWR-TLV both appear to be operating reliably - on time
  2. SFO-EWR and EWR-TLV both appear to be operating with low load factors (for health reasons we, naturally, prefer to be on a flight that is as empty as possible)
  3. Israel recently canceled its requirement that arrivals quarantine in a government run hotel.
  4. Israeli society is relatively open - we will be able to get our new home set up, things look promising for schools being open in the fall, etc.
Some questions I have:
  1. Have I understood the flight situation correctly? If we were leaving today, would it be relatively smooth to do SFO-EWR-TLV?
  2. What are your predictions for the rest of the summer? Do you think the situation with the flights might get worse? My biggest question is should we try to do this sooner than August 1st? Obviously no one can predict the future, so just asking for your intuition / instincts here.
  3. Upon arrival is it possible to rent a car? Are the car rental companies operating?
  4. How far out should we book the flights? I presume there's little reason to book well in advance given how much things are changing, do you agree?
Thanks in advance for any thoughts and guidance - I always appreciate your wisdom!
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Old May 13, 20, 9:34 am
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Originally Posted by yonajon View Post
Hello fellow FTers,

My family and I are planning to relocate from the west coast to Israel this summer and I'm confronting the daunting prospect of figuring out our flight plan. I could use your thoughts, strategies, and crystal ball gazing to support my process.

Our ideal timing is around August 1, though we have some flexibility to leave earlier - perhaps as soon as July 1. Although Israel is opening back up and some flights are resuming, I don't expect SFO-TLV to start operating again in our timeframe, and so we'd be looking at SFO-EWR-TLV.

The situation as of today appears rather amenable for the following reasons:
  1. SFO-EWR and EWR-TLV both appear to be operating reliably - on time
  2. SFO-EWR and EWR-TLV both appear to be operating with low load factors (for health reasons we, naturally, prefer to be on a flight that is as empty as possible)
  3. Israel recently canceled its requirement that arrivals quarantine in a government run hotel.
  4. Israeli society is relatively open - we will be able to get our new home set up, things look promising for schools being open in the fall, etc.
Some questions I have:
  1. Have I understood the flight situation correctly? If we were leaving today, would it be relatively smooth to do SFO-EWR-TLV?
  2. What are your predictions for the rest of the summer? Do you think the situation with the flights might get worse? My biggest question is should we try to do this sooner than August 1st? Obviously no one can predict the future, so just asking for your intuition / instincts here.
  3. Upon arrival is it possible to rent a car? Are the car rental companies operating?
  4. How far out should we book the flights? I presume there's little reason to book well in advance given how much things are changing, do you agree?
Thanks in advance for any thoughts and guidance - I always appreciate your wisdom!
1. Not necessarily so, there are so many schedule changes to flights right now you really never know. However things are getting better, not worse.

2. No things will not get worse by August, only better. I donít see a reason why you shouldnít go in August especially with low load factors.

3. sorry I have no idea about this question as it pertains specifically to Israel.

4. I disagree, flights are cheaper in advance and they are fully flexible. If you need to change flights fare classes are wide open so you should have no problem. If you wait prices will rise a lot. This doesnít apply if your using miles.
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Old May 13, 20, 9:36 am
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Thank you for the responses!

Originally Posted by united 1k flyer View Post
4. I disagree, flights are cheaper in advance and they are fully flexible. If you need to change flights fare classes are wide open so you should have no problem. If you wait prices will rise a lot. This doesnít apply if your using miles.
Interesting. I recently searched for SFO-TLV next week and it was $1500. For August it is $2500, about as high as it ever gets for this route. It seems that they are pricing in an increase in demand. Am I wrong? Are you thinking fares for August will increase as we get closer if demand remains suppressed?
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Old May 13, 20, 9:46 am
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Originally Posted by yonajon View Post
Thank you for the responses!

Interesting. I recently searched for SFO-TLV next week and it was $1500. For August it is $2500, about as high as it ever gets for this route. It seems that they are pricing in an increase in demand. Am I wrong? Are you thinking fares for August will increase as we get closer if demand remains suppressed?
Is this round-trip? In coach? That's extremely expensive. For business it would be super cheap. More details are needed
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Old May 13, 20, 9:50 am
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Originally Posted by cfischer View Post
Is this round-trip? In coach? That's extremely expensive. For business it would be super cheap. More details are needed
Definitely coach. Yes they are expecting a increase in demand, the reason flights are much cheaper now is because of no demand. If you feel as though flights will get cheaper you can always wait. If you donít mind me asking why do you have to fly United?
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Old May 13, 20, 9:50 am
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Originally Posted by cfischer View Post
Is this round-trip? In coach? That's extremely expensive. For business it would be super cheap. More details are needed
One way in coach. In my experience, roundtrip is typically $1600-$2200 SFO-TLV in the summer.

Originally Posted by united 1k flyer View Post
If you feel as though flights will get cheaper you can always wait.
Just doesn't seem like it will get more expensive.

Originally Posted by united 1k flyer View Post
If you donít mind me asking why do you have to fly United?
Two primary reasons:
  1. I tend to be a loyalist who optimizes for predictability. I want the PQMs because I'm nearing million miler status.
  2. There are very options at this stage - I think my only other viable option would be Lufthansa through FRA.

Last edited by WineCountryUA; May 13, 20 at 11:15 am Reason: merged consecutive posts by same member
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Old May 13, 20, 10:05 am
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Originally Posted by yonajon View Post
One way in coach. In my experience, roundtrip is typically $1600-$2200 SFO-TLV in the summer.
I can see a RT departing 8/1 SFO-EWR-TLV and returning 8/19 TLV-YYZ-SFO (on AC) for $970. Not endorsing this as a frequent practice, but a one-off throwaway return might not be the worst idea in this case.
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Old May 13, 20, 10:06 am
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Originally Posted by yonajon View Post
Just doesn't seem like it will get more expensive.



Two primary reasons:
  1. I tend to be a loyalist who optimizes for predictability. I want the PQMs because I'm nearing million miler status.
  2. There are very options at this stage - I think my only other viable option would be Lufthansa through FRA.
MUC offers a nice connection, getting in at 16:05.
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Old May 13, 20, 10:10 am
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Are you an Israeli citizen?
If not, nobody knows when restrictions will be lifted.
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Old May 13, 20, 10:28 am
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Originally Posted by ctownflyer View Post
Are you an Israeli citizen?
If not, nobody knows when restrictions will be lifted.
My wife and I are, our kids are not - we're unsure how that will be handled. Any pointers much appreciated.

Do others agree it makes sense to wait to purchase, even if prices go up? Right now UA still advertises SFO-TLV direct starting in July, and I am highly skeptical that will happen. It seems that the schedules are so fluid that purchasing closer to the time of the flight will increase predictability.

And what do others think about trying to fly sooner (e.g., around July 1) vs. later (e.g., Aug 1) in terms of reliability of flights, load factors, etc.

Last edited by WineCountryUA; May 13, 20 at 11:16 am Reason: merged consecutive posts by same member
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Old May 13, 20, 10:32 am
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Originally Posted by yonajon View Post
My wife and I are, our kids are not - we're unsure how that will be handled. Any pointers much appreciated.
That question should be directed to your local consulate.
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Old May 13, 20, 11:24 am
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Your pricing issue are related to purchasing one-way tickets. One way tickets are priced in higher fare classes. As suggested earlier, you can purchase a roundtrip for less and just not use the return trip
This is further discussed in Why are international OWs so expensive, such high fare classes?

For the Israel specific issues, such as rental cars, try the FT destination forum, Middle East including Egypt

For the entry requirements, only get your information from formal government sources, the consequences of faulty information and potential issues at the departure airport are too significant. Internet forums can not provide definitive answers.
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Old May 13, 20, 11:30 am
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Originally Posted by WineCountryUA View Post
Your pricing issue are related to purchasing one-way tickets. One way tickets are priced in higher fare classes. As suggested earlier, you can purchase a roundtrip for less and just not use the return trip
This is further discussed in Why are international OWs so expensive, such high fare classes?
Thanks. Are there risks with abandoning the return?

I'm still curious on people's thoughts on flying sooner rather than later and also buying earlier vs. later.
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Old May 13, 20, 11:35 am
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Throwaway return sounds a great idea here - you might even get a partial refund if the return is cancelled
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Old May 13, 20, 11:44 am
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Originally Posted by yonajon View Post
Thanks. Are there risks with abandoning the return? ....
For a one-off case, no likely consequences (from the airline)
Just do not expect a refund for the unused return portion
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