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Excess Baggage

By Hannah Reich Berman

Some things are just not meant to be. There are some folks in this world who never manage to get a freebie—and it appears that I am one of those people. This applies to financial wins because, with the exception of snagging the most wonderful husband and having the most terrific children, I have never won anything in my life. I offer the following as an example of my lousy luck in the financial arena: Several years ago, I decided that I was probably the only fool in the civilized world who didn’t take advantage of mileage or credit-card points earned. At one time I had several credit cards, but I eventually decided that this was silly. So, unlike some of the wheelers and dealers at whom I look askance but secretly admire, I canceled all but one card.

Note: These wheelers and dealers that I refer to are those people with multiple credit cards who manage to take advantage of every offer and opportunity that comes their way. In other words, they beat the system. Some of them beat it to death! This is not me. But I didn’t want to be super foolish, so I did some investigating and learned that one particular credit card had an arrangement with El Al Airlines and that the points accrued on that card could be used for mileage. In other words, a trip to Israel without any cost to me for the plane tickets!

Since I made that discovery a few years ago, I have gone about my business and made every attempt to accrue as many points as I could by using that card as often as possible. I realized that anything that can be purchased or paid for by using this card is, in essence, money that will go towards my ticket. As of the past year, I heat my home with gas, and the gas company does not accept credit-card payments. But when I used oil to heat my home, I paid the oil company with the credit card. I also use the card to pay for E-ZPass, health insurance, bottled-water delivery, supermarket bills, department-store bills, etc. There is no need for me to elaborate further. You get the idea. Until now I have never bothered to check and see just how many points I had accrued. I figured I would do that when I plan my next trip to Israel. But it now appears that I won’t have to!

Without warning or consideration of any type, El Al decided to cancel their arrangement with this credit card, and my points are worthless. Not entirely worthless, mind you, but certainly of no value to me in terms of getting free passage to the Holy Land. One of my friends, when she heard this news, griped that at the very least El Al should have given people some warning. Duh! Is she kidding? Why would they give anyone a warning? That would defeat their purpose. Obviously the idea was to stop another unsuspecting soul who has future travel plans from getting free passage on their airline.

All I can think of is my childhood, when I would yell, “Not fair!” Isn’t it enough that they now allow only one piece of luggage and that they charge for the second piece? And isn’t it enough that they now have a weight limit for carry-on luggage? How dare they now take away the mileage that I made sure to earn? And, speaking of this business of weighing carry-on luggage and allowing only one suitcase—are they kidding? El Al is the national airline of Israel. And, as everyone knows, Israel thrives on tourism. Tourists support hotels, restaurants, gift shops, souvenir shops, tour companies, and a lot more. Common sense dictates that the longer a visitor stays in the country, the more he travels around and the more he spends.

And it is close to impossible for a female to stay anywhere for longer than a week with just one suitcase and a lightweight carry-on. Most of us need one piece of luggage just for shoes and makeup. And what about the ladies who need to carry their sheitel cases? There must be a solution, but the only thing I can think of is to wear two sheitels at a time by placing one over the other and then wearing a schmatte over that. It might make a 5’4” woman appear to be 5’10”, but so what? And what an attractive sight she would make. Again, I say, so what? And by the same token, one could wear six pairs of bloomers and three pairs of socks.

The flight time to Israel is more than ten hours and the ride back is even longer than that, so any passenger bogged down with all those extras would undoubtedly be uncomfortable. The tradeoff, however, is that it would save on luggage space and therefore on the weight of the suitcase. Hey—any port in a storm. It might be considered somewhat devious to do this, but I can’t imagine that it would be illegal. And it doesn’t seem to be any more devious than what the airline did by canceling all those mileage points that people earned—without giving us a chance to cash in on them. That’s how I think, and so that’s the way it is.v

Hannah Berman lives in Woodmere and is a licensed real-estate broker associated with Marjorie Hausman Realty. She can be reached at or 516-902-3733.

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Posted by on June 3, 2014. Filed under In This Week's Edition. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.