On The Road: Israel Trip Notes, Update #3.

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Related:
Update #1
Update #2

Thanks to Amigo for being the official sponsor of Dansdeals.com updates while I’m in Israel! I’m using their USB Modem now to update the site. The card runs on Orange’s HSDPA network and the speeds (about 2 Mbps download and 300 Kbps upload) are great for a wireless card. It has worked flawlessly everywhere in Israel where I have tried to use it and it is invaluably useful!

I almost exclusively use my miles for Business or First class tickets. A coach ticket from the US to Israel on continental is 45K miles each way, but can be purchased for about $600 each way, which means that you’re only getting a value of 1.33 cents per mile. A BusinessFirst ticket though can cost $2,500 each way giving you a value of 4.17 cents per mile.

But what to do when there are no BusinessFirst seats for the dates they you need? Well I got our seats into BusinessFirst just days before departure…

Continental’s Plan B for a BusinessFirst award works surprisingly well once you find an agent who knows about it. Credit goes to FT for the details.
It works like this: If there is a saverpass coach award seat you can call up the international reward desk and ask for a BusinessFirst ticket but be seated in coach and placed on a waitlist for a BusinessFirst seat. For EWR-TLV your account will be debited 57,500 miles for each way.
You will either clear the waitlist into BusinessFirst no later than 24 hours before the flight or the waitlist will expire. If at 24 hours before the flight you still don’t have a BusinessFirst seat then at the airport you have to find an International Concierge or other knowlegdable looking agent and tell them that you are a displaced BusinessFirst customer. If they have no idea what you are talking about tell them to look up “gg onestandby” and review lines 85-89 which spell out the details of this reward. (This is reminiscent of “gg checkpoint line 53” which you have to reference to show agents how to give you a security pass for you and your guests to access post-security Presidents Club’s if you aren’t flying.) If they need to verify that you have a BusinessFirst reward have them call up the reward desk.
Still not able to get a seat in BusinessFirst? Just call up the reward desk after the flight and they’ll give you a refund of the difference between the standard coach award and the standard BusinessFirst award.

At any rate the flight was very nice. When I flew to Israel 2 years ago in BusinessFirst Continental still had the old video system that cycled through a few movies. The new large touch-screen AVOD system allows to choose from hundreds of movies, TV shows, games, and music. You can pause, fast-forward, and rewind as you please.
For dinner the people who ordered kosher meals got:
-An appetizer bowl of nuts, craisins, and sunflower seeds.
-A first course of a roll and a fish salad.
-A choice of your own personal bottle of kosher red wine or Chardonnay (or both!)
-A main course option of fish or chicken with another roll, fruit, and a chocolate fudge cake.
The kosher Breakfast was cheese blintzes, a roll, J&J reduced fat cream cheese, norman fat free fruit yogurt, a fruit bowl, and a cheese plate.

The seats recline at a 170 degree angle which is fine for sleeping. Continental’s new lie-flat BusinessFirst seats are slated to begin being installed in September.

Immigration at TLV was shockingly easy, we weren’t even asked a single question!

I turned down an upgrade at Budget for a Hyundai I3 hatchback in favor of the Mazda 3. I’m not sure how every rental car company is Israel gets away with making Liability insurance mandatory. By having a World Mastercard they let you decline the CDW coverage, but even if your personal car insurance covers liability they still force you to take their own liability coverage at $14/day, which effectively doubled the rate.

Israeli GPS systems are very hard to use on the english settings. There are so many ways to spell a city and street name that it is very hard to find what you need. Zefat, Zfat, Tsfat, Tzfat, Safed…every city and street probably has half a dozen ways to spell it and only one will work in the GPS. Nevertheless once you find the place you want to go they do an amazing job at navigating, probably better then an American GPS.

When I was looking for hotels for a base in the North I was shocked at the pricing. I know it’s high season and all, but the going rate was about $250/night. There are no Hilton or Starwood hotels any more in the North so I found a Holiday Inn in Tiberias which is part of the Priority Club program.
The paid rate was $250/night and it costs 15,000 PC points/night to stay there. Priority Club normally sells its points at 1.15-1.35 cents per point, so buying them directly from Priority Club wouldn’t yield much of savings. AMEX MR points transfer to PC at a 1:1 basis and Diners club points transfer at a 1:1.25 basis but that would still be a lot of points to transfer for a Holiday Inn.

The solution is Priority Club’s new cash and points redemption option. With the option you can redeem 5,000 points + $60 for a hotel room. Unlike with Starwood’s cash and points option though what actually occurs is that the $60 buys you the remaining 10,000 points that you would need for the 15,000 point Holiday Inn award. If you can the room you will therefore get a refund of 15,000 points! In effect you are thus able to purchase PC points at 0.6 cents per point by using the cash and points workaround. 15,000 points at 0.6 cents per point would make the Holiday Inn Tiberias $90/night which I reserved.

When I went back to the Priority Club’s website the next week I saw that the Holiday Inn Tiberias was on a PointBreaks special of just 5,000 points/night. So I canceled my previous reservation and rebooked for 5,000 points, or just $30/night!

The hotel is located about 1 mile south of the downtown midrachov, so it’s in a much quieter area than the former Sheraton Tiberias which was right on the noisy midrachov. Upon check-in I was given the option of staying in the Golan wing or the Kinneret wing. The Golan wing room was tiny with barely enough room the bad and a bathroom. The Kinneret wing room was much nicer and bigger with a nice entry-room, decent sized bathroom, a couch, a desk, and even a balcony! There was a box of delicious (kosher lamehadrin) chocolate chip cookies, 2 small bottles of red wine, and 2 bottles of water waiting in the room for us.

I’m holding a few days after this, but that’s all I have time for now, I’ve still got a lot to talk about like using gizmo5, Amigo’s push to talk service, and a report on the brand new Mamilla Jerusalem hotel.  Feel free to post comments with your own thoughts and anything I can do to make these trip reports most helpful!


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24 Comments On "On The Road: Israel Trip Notes, Update #3."

All opinions expressed below are user generated and the opinions aren’t provided, reviewed or endorsed by any advertiser or DansDeals.

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flo

did you rent a gps or you got maps loaded on a nuvi if so how would i get them on my nuvi thanks

steve2

so your car will cost you $480 and not $240?

Go back to the site you booked it on and see if they mention anything about mandatory LDW, if not when you get back dispute the charge with your CC.

however that means you cant switch CCs when you return your car. something I always do if the CDW doesnt need to be invoked = no damages. I use my World CC at time of rental and switch to my Amex SPG when I return it. This way Im not hit for the 3% currency charges even in US$ if outside the US

But if you do that and Amex gets the paperwork that shows you didnt originally book the rental and use the Amex at the time of picking up the car, that alone is enough to throw your dispute out

So you have to decide if you want to pay the $14.40 (3%)sticking with your World CC and hope you win the dispute (which I have a few times in Costa Rica & Israel) But all too often theres a * somewhere on the Rental site that now tells you about the Mandatory 3rd party L, or if no damage use your Amex and save the 414.40 but increase teh chances that the dispute will be thrown out if Budget presents Amex with teh paper work that showed you didnt use teh Amex at tim eof rental or time of booking

ABE

HOW DID YOU BOOK THE MIMILLA WITH SPG POINTS ARE THEY AN ACTIVE MEMBER OF SPG?

Freddie

@steve2: now that’s an inteligent comment!

Sam

Dan, let’s see some pictures of the trip!

Dan/Ctownbochur

@steve2:
Is the fact that I didn’t book with an AMEX really enough to throw out the dispute? In general I’ve had better luck with disputes with AMEX than with Chase.

Either way I do definitely plan on disputing the LDW, we’ll see what happens!

Dan/Ctownbochur

@flo:
The GPS is borrowed.

@ABE:
Search for Mamilla in the search box.

@Sam:
What kind of pictures do you want to see?

izzy

dan im going to israel in a few months with elal. how do i do this skype thing?? it can be used while in flight? is there a cost?
also do u have any good rates for rental jan time?
appreciate the help. enjoy your trip

anyone know about the lounge in newark airport for elal? i heard its a hotel. is it any good? is it worth shlepping to it

steve2

@dan

most certainly, at times using a coupon for a free day can annul the CDW.Thats why I dont use PL for Cars as I dont have my own car ins (another story) and by using PL you arent paying the rental car comp for the rental and thusly no CDW coverage

A person must book and pay for the car with the CC. How far they are willing to take it is anyones guess. But Budget Israel wont be happy being hit with the Dispute and then it depends if the person handling it realizes you switched CCs and sends that info to Amex.

Since by switching CCs at the end you really didnt Rent the car with that CC , you are only switching method of payment. And most CCs state you must use the CC when making the booking and getting the car(but in different wording).

just go over the Budget site where you booked it to see if theres any indication that if you dont accept Budgets CDW you will have to take the 3rd party Liability

Most of the places that I won my dispute with (not Budget)today have a * or something that says 3rd Party L is mandatory if you dont take the companys CDW. So your lucky I never went with Budget

kosher

The world mastercard (I have one) specifically says in their brochure that Israel, Ireland and Jamaica are excluded from the car rental coverage.

eli

that why everyone stands away from budget the all tray to rip you off be prepared the will find scratches or dets that the will claim you did

steve2

@kosher

I have 3 World MCs different banks and each will cover the CDW in Israel

Call MC Assist 1-800 MCASSIST they will ask for your MC # and then ask if you are covered. This will be the 1st time that a ‘World MC’ doesnt cover CDW in Israel that I will know of. It does have printed ‘World’ on your card itself?

steve2

@eli

thats why I dont switch to my Amex till they close the contract, they reopen it and change CCs for me.

The only time I was refused was with an Eldan rental, where they told me they know why I want to change and wont go along with me, and said next time use your Amex and pay for our CDW, I told them I promise you as long as I have a say in the matter there never will be another rental with Eldan. thats was a good few yrs ago and so far B”H Ive kept my promise and havent rented from them and saved $$ as they are always more then Avis

Dan/Ctownbochur

@kosher: @steve2:
Actually all of the brochures I have seen write that Israel may be excluded.
If you call the MC Assist number they will confirm that all World MC’s do cover Israel as well as every other country.

marc h

Yes, Budget is the worst. Last time I rented in JRSLm they pulled that shtick with paint nicks on the bumper. I immediately took 50 pictures of the supposed damage and when they tried to charge it I disputed it with my cc and the cc took it off and never bothered me again. The cc’s already know the bs they try to pull. I also rechecked with MC and the World cc still covers Israel.So who is the best rental company to use in Israel? feedback please.

abish

thanx dan i am your number 1 fan

Mendy

Dan, Did you check out the Machlis house in Jerusalem on shabbos? Check it out and report to us about it.

yehuda

hi dan,
which model gps is it? is it the ituran ones that are made in israel?
thanks

mo k

Dan i dont know how much longer you will be in israel but if you want to get rid of your budget car i can hook you up with a much better deal thru eldan

moish

mo k can i get that deal too?

Anonymous

mo k
what kind of a deal can u do for Dec 31 till Jan 11?
I usually rent with baruch freiman. Can u get something cheaper then he gets?

plan b

Dan does this plan b thingy work for united partners as well or is it limited to united operated flights?

Dan

United only.

plan b

Thanks

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