Archive for the ‘Israel’ Category

Delta Diamond Royal Treatment


I recently crossed the 125,000 mile threshold for the year, putting me into Delta’s highest “elite” category, Diamond Medallion.  Before they created this status (just this year), I had been a Platinum Medallion for three years.  As the top tier at the time, I have to admit that I still didn’t feel like I was treated all that specially.  Yes, I could get a Delta representative on the phone in under two rings almost any time of day or night.  That’s really quite excellent as much as I travel.  But aside from that, Platinum felt an awful lot like the lower statuses except that I had a better chance of being upgraded domestically.  Given the business-heavy routs I fly, I still only got upgraded occasionally (less than 20%).

But after reaching Diamond status, I feel like I’ve stepped into a whole new world.  The Delta reps are now eager to do anything they can to make me happy.  Case in point, they just switched an international flight for me, at no cost, when it was arguably my fault!

I’m on my way home from Israel at the moment.  This trip came about on short notice, so I literally bought the ticket only 5 hours before leaving my house.  My usual MO is to check upgrade availability online (thank you Expert Flyer!), book my ticket online, then call Delta to book the upgrade.  In this case, there was no time.  I called Delta to check on upgrade availability (I could fly direct , or through JFK, or through AMS), then just told him to book the flights.  I told him I needed to come home on Thursday night.  Well, he complied in the literal sense.  He booked me on a flight at 00:30 Thursday.  Yes, that’s at night, and yes it’s on Thursday.  But I think most of us would call that a “Wednesday night” flight , especially since you have to be at the airport at 22:30 on Wednesday night to check-in.  I didn’t notice the error when I got the confirmation e-mail, as I was frantically packing and trying to spend a few minutes of my Sunday with my kids.  Instead I noticed this when I looked at my iPhone on Wednesday night to verify the flight time for the next day.  I noticed that my flight was leaving in two hours.  DOH!!!!!

You see, the part that really threw me off is that I took this EXACT flight last week.  I flew TLV-JFK at 23:30 on Thursday night.  Well for whatever reason, Delta pushed the flights back an hour this week…so the same flight (Delta 269) leaves at 00:30 this week instead of 23:30.

So I called Delta and explained what happened.  I just laid it all out there.  I acknowledged that I hadn’t looked carefully enough at my itinerary, but given that I had just taken the flight 3 days before…it simply didn’t occur to me.

If you’ve read this boring story this far, thanks.  :)  We’re close, I promise!

So here’s the truly amazing part.  The Delta agent was kind enough to re-book my flight for the next night, and was even able to get me an upgraded seat on the direct flight instead of the connection through JFK.  To top it all off, they waived the change fee.  SWEET!!!!

Thank you, Delta!!!  This is precisely the kind of service that creates customer loyalty!   Thank you!

Ze Plane! Ze Plane!


Good timing!  This is the plane I’d be flying out on later in the evening; Delta 152, ATL-TLV.  The photo was taken at 17:30, as I was waling along the beach finishing-up my adventure for the day.  I had watched dozens of planes landing that afternoon, but had never anticipated seeing MY plane!

Ze Plane! Ze Plane!!!

Tel Aviv and Old Jaffa


I worked from the hotel business lounge on Wednesday morning, because they wanted to charge $6+/hr for internet access in the guest rooms.  I was on my own for lunch, so I took a stroll after eating The Jerusalem Humus.

The beach was pretty quiet on a weekday at lunch.


9 Beach Café


There’s a great cafe on the beach in Hertzilya, Israel.  It’s called 9 Beach (don’t know why), and it’s just a great place to hang-out.  There are quotes on the walls from Led Zeplin, Oasis, Linkin Park, Alanis Moriset, Sex Pistols, etc. and great rock-n-roll playing.  Every table has a view of the beach, and the entire wall facing west is made of glass panels that they slide open to allow the sea breeze to roll in.  The food is pretty much what you’d expect at a bar, but not bad.  The beer selection was rather modest.   But what really makes this place a winner is the location.  I went here every day after work to wind down a bit.  Highly recommended!

Jerusalem Humus


Well, it took me 2 1/2 days, but I found it.  The Jerusalem Humus is a restaurant just around the corner from my hotel, the Sharon Hotel in Herzliya (just north of Tel Aviv, Israel).  I went wandering for lunch and found this small shop, which clearly served humus, and had a nice open-air patio.  I decided to go with the shops namesake dish.  The Jerusalem Humus is a bowl of traditional humus, with a well made in the center filled with grilled chicken and grilled onions.  The bowl was drizzled with olive oil, and garnished with paprika and parsley.  You ate everything on pita, and there were some hot sauces, too.  One had a nice kick to it, but the other looked and tasted exactly like Pace picante sauce.  With a coke & tip it came to 53 shekels (about $14).  On the way back to the hotel I grabbed a candy bar at the convenience store.  It was 6 shekels ($1.60).  I don’t know if this is from a weak US$, or if thing are just expensive here, but both those seemed quite high to me.  To put this in perspective, the 12 oz can of Coke at lunch was $2.40, where I’d expect to pay no more then $1.50 in a US restaurant for a can.   This probably has something to do with me eating two blocks from a beautiful beach, too.

In any case…great hummus, interesting new candy, and a walk along the beach made for a great lunch!

humus with chicken & onions, pita, Coke, hot sauce, pickles & lettuce

The Jerusalem Humus

Coca Cola - nectar of the Gods


I can’t make this map plug-in go straight to the satellite view, so switch to the satellite view and you can see my hotel (the pool SW of the marker).

Israel – Day 1


Tuesday was my first full day in Israel.  I woke-up early to a beautiful morning and decided to take a walk on the beach.  I walked from my hotel most of the way down to the marina; about 45 minutes round-trip.  I’m not really a morning person, but this was a really nice way to start the day!

View from my room


Tel Aviv – Day 0


I left on Sunday evening, headed to Tel Aviv, Israel. I’ll be here for a few days on business, and will have most of Friday to play before heading back late Friday night.

The flight over was uneventful.   I flew direct on Delta, and was able to upgrade to Business Class.   Maybe I’m just becoming jaded….but it was a pretty disappointing experience.   We had two meals, and the food for both was way over cooked.    No photos of food this time.  The flight was bumpy almost the whole way, so the shots are horrible.  I watched Hurt Locker, which won 6 Oscars.  I thought it was fairly well done, but wasn’t nearly as impressed as The Academy.  What always strikes me about movies like this is just how dedicated our soldiers are.  While they may or not be quite as animated as they’re portrayed, I feel certain that they’re that dedicated to the mission.

I sat next to a Delta 777 pilot (that’s the plane we were on, too) that was on vacation.  As we were beginning our descent, he asked me how well I slept, and that got us talking about what the “crew rest” area is like on the plane.  After we landed, he was kind enough to show me the space.  It was very cool!  Up near the galley there’s a door that swings open to reveal a very tight set of stairs; almost a ladder, really.  You climb up this into an area above the Business Class over-head luggage bins.  There were two business class type seats, and two full beds situated behind the seats.  There was a sink, but no toilet.   Apparently the cabin crew has a similar space, but it has only beds, no seats.  While it’s not exactly luxurious, it seemed rather adequite.  And it’s quiet up there; no cabin announcements, no passengers talking, no toilets flushing, etc.

Here’s a shot of the seats.  I’m linking this from Boeing.  You can see the floor just below the phone in the center; it’s not very tall.  This was shot from the stairs, so you’re seeing all there is.

777 Crew Rest

Our sales rep picked me up at the airport and drove the 30 minutes from Ben Gurion airport to my hotel on the coast, just north of Tel Aviv.   After freshening up a bit, we headed to dinner at a cafe on the beach at sunset.  The location and weather were perfect, but alas the food…well, I’ll be more specific in my request tomorrow.  :)   The whole menu was in Hebrew.  My rep asked if I wanted chicken or beef.  I asked for the chicken, and it turned-out to be fried chicken fingers, with french fries.  Ugh.  Tomorrow I’ll eat better, and have pictures.