Chaim V’Chessed reports that Israeli Interior Minister Aryeh Deri and Health Minister Yuli Edelstein announced that foreign students will receive permission to enter the country for the upcoming school year.
Students will need to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival and individual schools will work out those logistics. Students should contact their schools for more information.
It’s important to note that nothing is final until the students have actually entered Israel. In June Israel voided the entry permission of single students that received permission to enter but had not yet boarded a flight.
Earlier this week I shared my advice on which airline students should use for maximum flexibility, given that things can rapidly change in the current situation.
Some schools are apparently requiring their students to fly on pricey El Al charter flights that have yet to be announced.
I’m not sure if that’s out of patriotism, a kick back from the airline/travel agent, or being the easiest logistically, but that seems highly unfair.
Some people have won refunds by disputing the charge on their credit card or filing a DOT complaint, but El Al is still holding onto most people’s money. There is now a class action against El Al demanding refunds.
Back in March, El Al abruptly cancelled their flights, leaving students with an open ticket scrambling to buy other tickets. El Al then created charter flights to get students back to the US, but they refused to honor the open tickets, students had to spend big money on new charter tickets.
Schools claim that only El Al offers 2 free bags and open tickets, so its to the students advantage to use them. That disregards the fact that all Delta and United tickets are effectively open as they have free changes if booked by 7/31. It also ignores that last year’s students got stuck with worthless open ended tickets. Finally, the cost to add an additional checked bag is much less than the extra cost that is sure to be added onto the cost of a pricey El Al charter.
If there aren’t enough commercial seats available, there are other options, such as using Delta and United charter operations.
Forcing students to buy tickets from an airline that’s currently not operating, with no clear signs they will resume normal operations soon, and has not made last year’s students whole, is morally questionable.
Will schools take on the financial responsibility if El Al sells charter flights with open ended return tickets and then cancels the flight or can’t fulfill the return flight? What happens if Israel retracts permission for students to fly to Israel? Even if the airline agrees to provide a full refund, will the travel agent provide a full refund? Some readers have been hit with travel agent charges of up to $500 on cancelled group and charter flights. These details need to be worked out in advance.
There’s no reason that schools can’t give a specific date that students need to arrive in order to quarantine together.
Schools have a choice to make. They either need to take financial responsibility for tickets they are forcing parents to buy, or give parents the freedom to book tickets they feel comfortable with.