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Messages - Yehuda25

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1
Just spoke with 2 agents. The first said it couldn't be done. The second came back saying that he spoke with a supervisor who said they used to be able to do it but cant anymore. i asked him about CORE, he paused for a second and then said, it took him a minute to remember what core is, they haven't been using that for a while. I will try again later. Anyone have any luck lately with plan B?
yes, did a few weeks ago

2
I never thought I'd write this, but out of כבוד אכסניא
I decided to write up some of my experiences and musings.

Quite a bit was posted shortly after it was experienced in this thread, and if mods want to move those here, they are welcome to do so.

I have lived in the US my entire adult life, and for many years took very few trips to Israel, mostly for family reasons. However, in recent years I have tried to visit about 3x per year. I don't view my trips as trips to Israel, but rather as trips to visit family and help where needed. Occasionally there might also be a business need involved.

After last leaving Israel in mid-February 2020 (concluding a 6-day visit) I have been unable to schedule a trip. For many months the guidelines of the Israeli government were that anyone entering would require a 14 day quarantine. That would mean that any trip that would serve any purpose would have to be longer than that. It was simply something I couldn't afford to do. When they said that those that recovered from COVID-19 would be exempt from quarantine, there was initial hope, but if said recovery was outside of Israel they required a Positive PCR test followed by a Negative PCR test in order to document recovery from COVID-19. Since I got COVID-19 back in March of 2020, when PCR tests weren't administered if one didn't have severe symptoms, I wasn't able to document my recovery. The advent of antibody tests didn't help, as the Israeli authorities refused to accept those as proof of prior infection (without any logical explanation).

Then in September or October, a glimpse of hope came up, as the Israeli government finally decided to accept Antibody tests as (partial) proof of prior infection, as long as an additional antibody test was taken in Israel. DW went to Israel then based on that premise, but without any explanation, they went back on that policy by the time she had landed. Her flight was a last-moment decision, so she went there on DL (booked with FlyingBlue) in economy, which wasn't too bad as the flight wasn't full and she was able to stretch on several seats. And the return was booked on UA utilizing plan B, which worked like a charm.

All along I knew of many that simply got Positive PCR tests "manufactured" for them, allowing them to go to Israel without having to quarantine. I was reluctant to do that, as I was on record saying that I didn't have a positive PCR test and asked for a quarantine exemption based on my antibody test.

In recent months, the Israelis decided to allow quarantine exit on day 10, if one got a negative PCR test on day 9. That made it a little more palatable. In February circumstance made it clear that I will have no choice but to go, even if that meant doing 10 day quarantine (whether in a hotel, or with relatives). It was somewhat mitigated by the opportunity to explore some business opportunities, so I was mentally ready for it, though still wanted to avoid it.

And then the need to travel became urgent.

Step #1 was getting permission to enter the country. I do have an Israeli passport (which up until now has been nothing but a burden with no benefit), so I didn't face the limitations of non-citizens, and applied to go for urgent humanitarian reasons. The request was submitted right after Shabbos, and until I received a response I couldn't do anything else. Trying to pull strings didn't help, but eventually, the permission to enter came on Wednesday morning. By that time the urgent reason for travel had BH turned out with a reasonable outcome, making the trip a drop less urgent.

The following week was my son's bar-mitzvah, so I figured I'd go after the bar-mitzvah.

I booked myself a UA plan B for the Motzoei Shabbos following the Bar-Mitzvah.

On Shabbos before the Bar-Mitzvah I davened in a different minyan than I usually do, and happened to have been seated next to someone who told me he could help me with a verifiable PCR test. While I never thought I would do that, I did call him on Sunday asking him to get me a positive PCR test dated a certain date, so that I could use that along with a fresh negative PCR test as proof of recovery.

In the meantime, the personal situation in Israel kept on changing, and the urgency seemed to have moved up a notch. And then I glanced at my entry authorization, only to notice that it said it was valid for one week only, meaning that it had already expired. I contacted whoever I knew, submitted additional requests to have it extended etc. etc. but to no avail. I figured that in a worst-case scenario I would just edit the document I received in order to make it appear current and valid.

While I was trying to get a fresh entry authorization, I found out that a positive PCR test from the US followed by a negative PCR test from the US will no longer be sufficient in order to exit quarantine. An antibody test conducted in Israel is the only way to exit quarantine if one had recovered (or been vaccinated) in the US. While I did have a positive antibody test from June 2020, subsequent tests showed that my antibody levels were on the low end. Not wanting to be stuck in quarantine in Israel (more on what that means later on) I decided to ask my Dr. to give me a vaccine, which I expected would boost my antibody levels. Luckily, my Dr. agreed (there were other factors that made me eligible, but I guess the humanitarian reason helped me get an earlier appointment) and I got my vaccine (1st dose) on 2/17.

That night we celebrated my son's bar-mitzvah, and he got his aliya the next morning, after which I went to get a PCR test in preparation for my flight on Motzoei Shabbos. The entire day I wasn't feeling great. I attributed it to vaccine side-effects and continued to prepare for my trip. And then I got notice from UA that my flight was canceled. With the help of @nafnaf12 I got one of the last seats available on the DL flight leaving Sunday night, and then....

And then, on Friday early afternoon I get a call from the place where I took the PCR test, telling me that it came back positive!

Impossible, I said. This must be a false positive, or maybe just because I got the vaccine the day prior. However, for practical purposes, I was now facing the real possibility that after everything I might not be able to fly. In addition, I needed to be abundantly cautious, just in case the result was real, and avoided going to shul on Shabbos, and stood at the door of a nearby minyan, while wearing a mask, in order to hear זכור. A large gathering that was scheduled for Shabbos in my house also changed the venue.

On Motzoei Shabbos I called my neighbor who is studying to become a Paramed, and does COVID tests, asking him to test myself (PCR and Rapid) and my family (rapid) for COVID-19. Hoping to get a negative PCR test on time before the flight. He promised to send it to one of the fastest labs around. All the rapid tests came back negative, BH, and I went to sleep hoping to get my negative PCR test in the morning. When I didn't get the results in the morning, I called another friend who sent me to LabQ where I got a fresh PCR test, which he said he could rush for me. When I got my results late in the afternoon, I started preparing for the trip in earnest.

At that time, anyone entering Israel was required to go to a quarantine hotel. Not knowing where I would go, and how long I would have to stay, DW had packed for me half a suitcase with food for the potential quarantine. With negative PCR test in hand (the test taken the previous night came back negative when I was on the way to the airport), and the entry authorization (with date on top edited, so that one week validity would still be in range) in hand, I headed to the airport.

At DL Sky Priority check in, I showed my Israeli passport, and when I offered my entry authorization, I was told it wasn't required from Israeli citizens. But was required to fill out a quarantine form that would generate a permission document to board a flight. Since at the time it was quarantine hotels, no actual address was required, only a city. Since Kfar Chabad wasn't an option, I put in Jerusalem, hoping that things would be easier there with food etc. and the boarding authorization was issues, with a quarantine location listed as "Jerusalem".

I had flown DL in J in the past on my way to TLV via SVO on a 767. I found the seat to be narrow and not very comfortable for sleeping, but an excellent soft product (though one of the KSMLs was actually spoiled!). Other than that I flew DL one time in J from TLV to JFK quite a few years ago. I can't recall if it was a 777 or a 747, but that was one of the best flights I had from TLV to NYC. I reclined the seat prior to take off, and fell asleep with the plush bedding, only to wake up about two hours prior to landing. That is where the value of J is for me.

With the exception of two trips on AA via Philly (shortly after they took over US), most of my flights between the US and TLV in recent years have been on TK or LX, so this was my first non-stop NYC-TLV flight in a while.

To sum it up. I am not a fan of the Delta One suites. Privacy is a gimmick. I don't find the closing doors adding much privacy over what I would get in a reverse herringbone layout. And TBH, the narrow aisles of the A330 make everything seem a lot less spacious than the wide-open spaces I am accustomed to on the TK 777 (or even A330). Most importantly, I don't (and I assume most others don't) sleep in a position that looks like someone is standing (laying) to attention. I might want to put my hands or arms under my head or lay on my side while slightly bending my knees. The seat simply doesn't allow for any of those positions, resulting in a less than optimal sleep.

The Regal KSML was a somewhat pleasant surprise. While I don't go for meat entrees, so I can't comment on that, the rest (with the exception of the breads!!! They felt so hard that I didn't even try taking them out of their wrappers) was pleasantly surprising. Even the omelet served for breakfast was surprisingly decent. I would probably rank it 6.5 or 7 on the Stogel-Hermolis KSML scale (with a full point lost due to the bread situation).

While face masks or coverings are required throughout the flight, when one is laying flat in the seat and cabin lights dimmed, no-one seems to bother if I'm not strict about it.

....up next, landing at TLV with constantly changing COVID-19 rules and regulations.
Wow!!

3
Trip Reports / Re: Banyan Tree Mayakoba and Hyatt Ziva Cancun TR
« on: March 07, 2021, 08:51:27 PM »
No, but you will need a negative test for the return to the US
Not PCR I belive tho. Very Nice TR @Mootkim !!!

5
Destination Guides And Trip Planning / Re: Puerto Rico Master Thread
« on: February 28, 2021, 10:10:21 AM »
Any recommendation for a specific zip line/ATV place in San Juan Puerto Rico? There's a bunch to choose from online. Staying at the ST regis

6
Just made a EWR-TLV plan B booking. For some odd reason was charged 98,000 miles and $23.06 rather than 78,000 and $5.60.

How do I fix that?
I'm not familiar with the rates, but I would putpac if you were charged the wrong amount...

7
If anything, buying in cash is a lack of faith. A loan that won't have to be repaid is something any faithful person would jump at.
+1 lol

8
Trip Reports / Re: A little different Maldives TR
« on: February 16, 2021, 12:44:10 PM »

I think this is actually the 64k question!  I don't want to mispeak for Dan but I think he means if you just want a private pool you can get that in Orlando or Phoenix. And if you want a private pool on a beach then you can get this in Cancun (or @yehuda, with points in Cabo at the new Waldorf Astoria property and there are some other Caribbean ones available through new Hyatt partnerships). 

Those places in Mexico and the Caribbean should also offer good service and ambiance.  I know I sound like a broken record but as far as the privacy and seclusion, the absolute whole package, I just can't think of anywhere else besides the Maldives, it's as close as any of us will get to being on our own upscale private island.  Even when you are out of your unit and walking on the beach you are most likely not to see another soul around.  Also, the fact that the Conrad has two islands, I felt a huge difference even between the seclusion of the quiet island and the main one where the beach villas, restaurant, check-in, etc. were.  Staying on the quiet island was just a different experience (so I'd make sure to request it if you are going, and they do have base unit OWV's on the quiet island), another level up of privacy and secluded feel and just magical.
+1

9
On The Road / Re: Hertz Master Thread
« on: February 12, 2021, 05:00:34 PM »
I checked the Priceline confirmation and it doesn't seem to mention an ORD return.
Even if they just based the variable charges on the base rental, instead of all the extra charges, it would be a huge savings. I'll give them a call.


Thank you!
how can this be a priceline with a USAA corp code? Doesn't make sense.

10
On The Road / Re: Andaz mayakoba refuses free test on points stay
« on: February 11, 2021, 01:35:31 AM »
"Hyatt is Spreading the Coronavirus," Hotel Guest Asserts after Policy Reversal

The Hyatt hotel chain has come under fire for its alleged role in spreading a pandemic, DansDeals Magazine has learned. The accusation came after a Mexico-based hotel refused to supply a free Covid test to a guest, in direct contradiction to the chain's stated policy.

"[The] reservation manager claims the free test is only for paid stays," a guest at the Andaz Mayakoba, a Hotel that is part of the Hyatt Brand of hotels, claimed on a prominent online forum. The guest, who was identified only by a username of 'mdv', added that the hotel sent a PDF that supposedly backed up their refusal to supply a test, but the guest pointed out that the hotel website made no distinction between paid or reward stays.

The assertion was first posted on Dans Deals Forums, a prestigious travel and points forum that compliments DansDeals.com, a deals site that has earned the top spot in a USA Today survey. The site's administrator, Cleveland-based points heavyweight Daniel Eleff, immediately offered to use his connections to clear up the confusion.

"I'll reach out to my Hyatt contact and see what they say," Eleff posted on the forum.

The situation was later resolved after the hotel conceded and agreed to supply a test. Poster mdv reported the change of policy about two-and-a-half hours after his initial post noting the refusal.

It has been reported that Hyatt secretly threated adverse actions against Eleff if he would publicize the story, with their main ammunition being their ability to portray Eleff as a super-spreader, given his side job of singing at predominantly Jewish weddings. Eleff, however, has been documented as having eleffated antibody levels, thus effectively mitigating the risk of virus spread. DansDeals Magazine has not been able to independently confirm claims of any threats, however.
LOL!

11
On The Road / Re: Hertz Master Thread
« on: February 11, 2021, 01:30:28 AM »
Any current cv/discount codes?

12
Credit Cards And Finance / Experian updating time
« on: February 10, 2021, 11:55:07 AM »
Anyone know how long it takes experian to update?

I had an issue on my report with a chase card which was successfully resolved, TU and EQ updated, but nothing from experian yet.

13
Credit Cards And Finance / Re: united travel bank no longer working,
« on: February 10, 2021, 11:54:01 AM »
Any other way to get a ticket credit back to TB?

14
Or did anyone have succes with the companies u pay to get it removed ?
I paid a jewish one 14 months ago, account was removed from experian but no others yet. Just asked for my money back. They are blaming it on covid etc.

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