By Anessa V. Cohen
My vote for the biggest discussion to hit the Internet in the final month of 2014 goes to all the price-slashed airfares offered by airlines that you would ordinarily never fly with. For those who have not been following the raucous noise that could be heard through e‑mail, Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, or any of a dozen other apps, I will share the news that cut-rate offers were featured for travel to Israel—as well as to other places, which you would never think of going unless you landed there by accident.
I understand those who took advantage of airfares under $475 roundtrip from New York to Tel Aviv. Even though the flying time with stopovers usually consists of at least 16 hours each way, who could resist such low fares, especially for families? But in order to take advantage of these cheaper airfares you needed to fly with Russian or Ukrainian airlines, with stopovers in Ukraine or Moscow.
What a conundrum! Airfares were so cheap that the urge to take advantage of them outweighed the flying time and layovers in cities most of us have no desire to be in when there is any choice in the matter.
So fascinating was the talk on the Internet, I could not keep from tuning in daily to see the latest questions and answers regarding whether or not to take advantage of these unbelievably priced tickets:
Can anyone tell me if it is safe to sit in this airport while waiting for a connecting flight?
Has anyone ever flown this airline?
Is there a chance the airline will go bankrupt before we fly and we will be out the money?
Is this where the war is going on?
Does anyone know where we can find kosher food while we wait for a connecting plane?
Do we need to get a separate visa if we leave the airport and come back in time for the connecting flight?
These and many other questions went back and forth for the last month as people were buying flight tickets like a hot stock riding the market. Hundreds of questions, hundreds of comments to those questions—many better than a good standup comic routine—from giving advice and instructions to telling people they are crazy to even consider it.
Many people answered that they had already utilized the cheap tickets offered by these airlines in the past and were planning on flying with them again in the interest of saving large amounts of money on tickets—especially those flying with large families.
And then when I thought I could not be surprised any more, a new twist entered the fray. Somehow an Arab airline was offering cheap tickets to South Africa—with a stopover in the United Arab Emirates. The new noise on the Internet were questions of “How safe is it for Jews to fly this airline?” or, “Can Jews safely wait in Doha airport while waiting for the next connection?” And this one was the best: “Where can we find kosher food in this airport?”
If it were April 1, I would have thought it was an April Fool’s joke, but so many were talking of taking advantage of the low fares to visit family and friends in South Africa, that I just sat in amazement, realizing that the price was made so low that Jewish people were even willing to sit in an airport in an Arab city for a connection from one Arab airline to another! If I had not seen this discussion, I never would have believed it.
I am really curious what will happen within all these airlines when they see the number of kosher meals being ordered for these passengers! v
Anessa Cohen lives in Cedarhurst and is a licensed real-estate broker and a licensed N.Y.S. mortgage broker with over 20 years of experience, offering full-service residential and commercial real-estate services (Anessa V Cohen Realty) and mortgaging services (First Meridian Mortgage) in the Five Towns and throughout the tri-state area. She can be reached at 516-569-5007 or via her website, www.AVCrealty.com. Readers are encouraged to send questions or comments to anessa.cohen@AVCrealty.com.