Never Book Codeshare Flights: Trying To Get Out Of Tel Aviv Edition

On Monday I was corresponding with a long-time reader who was trying to get a family member out of Russia where they’d gone for a funeral and into Israel. Not easy! They’d gone to Russia for a funeral. My suggestion was that they fly to Istanbul. Turkish was still flying to Russia, is close to Israel, and they usually run as many as a dozen flights a day between Istanbul and Tel Aviv.

Things are rapidly changing and Turkish has now suspended service. However I explained that my reason for recommending Istanbul was also that while many airlines – including all 3 U.S. airlines serving Israel – have ceased flying due to the risk, El Al which normally operates 22% of flights in and out of Tel Aviv and is still flying and serves Istanbul.

The Israeli military has called up 360,000 reservists (huge for a country of 9.4 million people) and many of them are abroad trying to reach Israel to join in protecting their home. El Al is flying them there. And El Al is unique because their planes are equipped with an anti-missile system: Commercial Multi-Spectral Infrared Countermeasure (C-MUSIC) system which uses laser technology to confuse incoming missiles, causing them to veer off course and detonate at a safe distance from the aircraft. It:

  • Detects the threat using infrared sensors.
  • Tracks the incoming missile.
  • Fires a laser at the missile, confusing its guidance system and causing it to deviate from its intended path.
  • Update: this system is on El Al Boeing 737s (which operate regional routes like Istanbul) and 777s (which are being retired) but has not been confirmed to be on their 787s.

If you’re in Israel right now, you might be trying to get out. You might be trying to get out right away. Many airlines are extending extreme flexibility with their purchased tickets. But not all! Qantas, which has a deep partnership with Emirates, is reportedly quoting passengers thousands of dollars to rebook their flights.

  • People purchased travel on Emirates through Qantas
  • Qantas is offering refunds and isn’t charging change fees but they appear to be charging the difference in fare and that’s often substantial
  • While customers booked directly through Emirates are being permitted to change their travel plans for free

[A]ll customers can get a refund if they no longer wish to fly or we will waive the change fees if you want to move flights”.

“We offered assistance for Australians in Israel and have spoken with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade about it.”

“Some consumers have made reservations on for flights to and from Israel on one of our partner airlines”.

“Clients who are trying to depart Tel Aviv but are experiencing flight issues can contact us to discuss alternatives.”

It’s very much on-current-brand for Qantas to quote charges of several thousand dollars to assist customers in exiting a war zone when their partner operating the flight is imposing no such charges.

The reader trying to get a family member into Israel asked where to book the flights, and wondered if Expedia was a good idea? NO!!!

  • Don’t book through an online travel agency website unless there is a very compelling reason to do so, and even then realize that if travel plans go awry customer service is likely to be a mess.

  • And never book a codeshare flight if you can avoid it. That adds complexity and puts another layer of bureaucracy between you and the actual airline operating your flight.

Sometimes there’s no avoiding it, and you need to put more than one airline in the same reservation. That’s supposed to be the point of airline alliances, and joint ventures are supposed to work even better, though in practice they rarely do.

And sometimes it’s cheaper to book a codeshare or partner itinerary. Just know that this savings isn’t ‘free’ but rather comes at a customer service cost if there’s a schedule change or if your plans change. Or if Hamas decides to invade Israel from Gaza in order to provoke Israel so that the images of Palestinians dying will drive a wedge between Israel and other governments in the Mideast, and so the U.S. might get drawn into the conflict.

The world is crazy enough. For instance today the United States formally recognized the military takeover of Niger as a coup. You don’t want to complicate it even further by booking codeshare flights or designating Expedia as your travel agent if you can possibly avoid doing so.

And if you’re an American trying to get out of Israel, sign up with the State Department so you’ll be notified in case the U.S. decides to run any evacuation flights, as Poland appears to be doing. And if not American, register with your country’s embassy as well.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. My travel agency been able to get 5 different people out of Israel with Emirates and I have not seen a price increase.
    On the codeshares the airline not operating the flights has not removed the space, so it looks open and that is causing confusion

  2. Thank you. Reminds of many important points, even for those of us fortunate enough not to need to travel in/out of a conflict zone.

  3. Come on, already took away the money from QANTAS for the flights they sold but never intended to operate, but can’t they just keep it this once for the ones that they canceled but were intending to actually fly?

  4. It’s ok, just wait for the new Qantas CEO Vanessa Hudson to make another apology video promising to do better. Lol

  5. Yep, code-shares seldom deliver on the promises made to government regulators & consumers when anti-trust immunity is being sought.

    If anything, time has shown the opposite takes place once anti-trust immunity is received and code-share operations begin, with fares typically higher, along with ever worsening comfort and customer service also typical.

    For an upcoming trip to/from Asia, because the original dates were tentative and the difference between refundable and non-refundable fares was nominal on a Delta code-share operated by Korean Airlines, I purchased Delta’s refundable fare for KE code-share operated flights because the chance of the dates and origination (LAX) changing at the time of purchase was very high and I wanted to have the flexibility to book on other airlines if/when the dates and new origination (NYC) changed – as they did.

    And after the absolutely horrible experience dealing with Delta for seat assignments (good luck trying to get a bulkhead row seat for DL ticketed KE operated flights!), when the dates and origin (now JFK) changed, I booked the replacement flights directly with KE to eliminate the nightmare (& bald faced lies too numerous to discuss here) that was experienced on the original code-share booking made thru Delta.

    It was awful.

    Sure, KE’s notoriously difficult advance seat selection is hardly blameless; but to me, it’s a perfect example of why code-shares seldom, if ever, deliver the benefits promised to flyers.

    Like Gary says, it’s better to book directly with the operating carrier unless a code-share can’t be avoided.

  6. I was waiting for your daily Israel booster post, you were a little late today.
    Please explain how it is that Israel needs to call up 360,000 reservists to add to their 170,000 active duty military to “defend” their homes against 1000 Hamas coming in on speedboats, hang gliders and pick up trucks? They wouldn’t be planning to attack anyone, would they?
    When (not if) they do attack, will that still be “defending their homes”?
    I think it is already long past time to stop pretending that there are any good guys in this situation and just admit that everyone is bad guys. It is ridiculous to assert that the Israelis are only doing everything they do to Palestinians because the Hamas made them do it. Every time they have had a chance to make the peaceful response to hostilities, they have chosen to escalate and that is not anyone’s choice but their own to make.

  7. @farnorthtrader – they plan to take out Hamas, their Prime Minister has said that they are responding several-fold.

    Now I think whether or not this is a good idea is complicated to say the least.

    – If they don’t respond they open themselves up to further attack.
    – They’ve seen they cannot simply deter Hamas, so they remain an immediate threat in close proximity

    They also have to defend against Hezbollah potentially joining with all of its force.

    On the other hand, the entire point of the Hamas invasion was to elicit this response. Hamas’s goal is for Palestinians to die in the aftermath, the images of which then prevent other countries in the region from normalizing relations with Israel. Iran is supporting Hamas in this, hoping to draw the U.S. into the war as well.

    Israel looks weak from being caught by surprise. Surrounded by forces who want to see them destroyed, dead, they can’t show weakness. But the show of force risks an escalation that also leaves them worse off.

    This is a very difficult situation, and I am honestly not sure the best response.

  8. @farnorthtrader: Isn’t there a party you should be at celebrating the old ladies at bus stops and kids at a concert getting murdered?

  9. @Thing 1, I must have made a comment that I was not aware of making, since my comment that I remember writing clearly said that Hamas are bad guys. Not sure how that could be interpreted to suggest that I am celebrating the attack by Hamas.
    You must have a low opinion of the Israeli military if you think that they need more than half a million military personnel to prevent old ladies at bus stops and kids at a concert from being murdered. Or perhaps, like Israel, you aren’t actually interested in preventing such violence, but instead on gaining vengeance, perhaps tenfold or a hundred fold.
    I would choose peace, not disproportionate vengeance based on the political calculation that Hamas made the current Israeli government and security apparatus look like fools, so they have to murder thousands of innocent Palestinians to make themselves look stronger.

  10. LY’s 777s are not being retired, they’re being refurbished.

    LY’s 787s don’t have SkyShield. Boeing wanted a confiscatory amount of money to make the system work on the 787, so the previous management punted on that.

  11. @farnorthtrader

    I love the “proportionate response” comments.

    What do you think should be a “proportionate response” to going house to house, decapitating babies in front of their parents, kidnapping children, women, and grandmothers, raping women, then dragging them naked through the streets of Gaza (with all the bystanders cheering and jeering (!!!!!)), murdering entire families, burning out homes they couldn’t break into, burning children alive, and more atrocities that cannot be described.

    I think a “proportionate response” would be that a nation that breeds such animals and that wholeheartedly supports this type of behavior and educated their children in this manner should cease to exist. They can go meet their Nazi teachers in hell.

  12. @farnorthtrader the Palestinians have squandered every chance for peace that they’ve ever been offered.

    You can forget about there even being a “Palestine” now. Not in one thousand years.

  13. @Common Sense, so your understanding of proportionality would be the slaughter of 2 million people, 99% of which are innocents, roughly a quarter of which are children. Thanks, but I will continue to suggest this is not defending your country, and is not justice, it is revenge. Obviously, it makes it easier for you to think of them all as animals, rather than people.
    Just so I understand it, the 2 million people trapped in 140 square km with all entry and exit and all of the necessities of life controlled by the Israelis (now cut off by the Israelis) and now facing the prospect of extermination are the Nazis in this story?

  14. @farnorthtrader

    Great. So you understand that a “proportionate response” is something that is inconceivable as Israel would never do to Hamas and their supporters and enablers what Hamas did to them. So spare me your speech about “proportionate response” when if Israel actually did that, means that Gaza would be a parking lot by now.

  15. The Fly America act requires people using government funds, like a research grant, must book tickets that say an American flagged carrier, regardless of what the name on the actual aircraft says. (There are some exceptions.) So, they generally have to book codeshares

  16. Proportionate response.

    “An eye for an eye” is a proportionate response, and I’m assuming none of us are asking Hamas to bring out 1200 of their own people to have babies beheaded, women raped and paraded naked in the streets, and hundreds taken hostage to be publicly executed.

    Frankly, I look at this two ways.
    1. This is view from the wing, and there’s a good analysis of why you don’t use 3rd parties (or codeshare, which is third parties with a better contract).

    2. A discussion of the savage pieces of crap that committed heinous violation of human behavior, law, laws of war, and their victims response.

    Frankly, there are a lot of forums and news sources that cover #2 just fine, and have just as many people who don’t know squat talking out their backsides. THIS FORUM along with its competitors (view from the wing, omaat, simpleflying, etc.) should continue to be a resource to us flyers.

    If I was in Israel right now and wanting to fly out, this would be a resource I’d try and use. Don’t ruin it.

    P.S. I’m Israeli and if you think I don’t have opinions and comments on this matter, allow me to assure you that I do. I just keep them where they can cause the right response. Never attack an Israeli in his home.

  17. farnorthtrader,

    The median age of the human population of Gaza is something like 18 years of age with an estimated c. 40% of the human population in Gaza being 14 years of age or younger. When there are people saying they want 1000 dead Palestinians per 1 Israeli murdered by the Hamas monsters, they really want to see a genocide unleashed by Israel onto the Palestinians in Gaza and don’t really care to spare babies and under children.

    The inhumanity of people is on clear display nowadays, and no amount of obfuscation is going to hide the lack of equal respect for all human life regardless of appearance and heritage by birth.

  18. This is such a BS blog. It’s laughable to me just how little supposed frequent flyers know about the way airlines work. Codesharing enables far more benefits than drawbacks. And to the poor poor pitiful person who couldn’t get a bulkhead seat on a Korean flight? You have got to be kidding. Bulkhead seats are usually blocked and just because you bought the ticket thru Delta does not mean that Delta has control over Korean’s blocked seats. This blog is a total waste of time and seems more of a venting spot than a place to come for solid info.

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