The Best of Israel – Travel Review

Rick Steve’s Europe Travel program goes to Israel.  In this 26 minute episode, produced with Oregon Public Television, you’ll be immersed into a visual whirlwind of much of what Israel has to offer.

Rick’s insightful commentary accompanies his travels with a generally favorable account of Israel’s main tourist attractions.  He meets up with locals at restaurants and on the streets to get a sense of the the cultural climate.

However, much of the commentary is shaded with the American brand of “political correctness” and the need to try and show the Palestinian side.  This is a highly simplistic accounting of what Israel has to offer.

So much is missing, that I’d be remiss to even mention a few of them. At least 1/2 of the episode focuses on religion.  Jewish, Moslem, and Christian holy places.  The author does, however,  succeed in only 26 minutes, to give enough of a sampling that viewers will want to see more.

Flying to Israel with Continental vs. US Airways

Since 1994 I’ve traveled over 100 transatlantic flights, mostly between the USA and Israel.  I am sharing my experiences here about different airlines that travel to and from Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv.

In this article we’ll focus on Continental Airlines who is merging with United Airlines in 2011, with it’s hub in Newark, New Jersey, and US Airways, which flies out of its Philadelphia hub.  Both airlines are competent and match evenly on features.  Each offers daily flights and adds flights during busy seasons.

Coach Travel Flying Comparison Chart

Continental / United US Airways
Aircraft Boeing 777 Airbus A330-300
Hub in USA Newark Philadelphia
Coach Seat Configuration 3 – 3 – 3 2 – 4 – 2
Kosher food rating B

Dinner, mid flight sandwich, and light breakfast served


Dinner and light breakfast served

Coach Seat Features head rests, electric plug for every two seats Leather, arm rests lift up, USB power connector at every seat
Entertainment Personal Touch screen, hundreds of movies (over 200), dozens of TV shows, music, and games. Personal touch screen, dozens of movies, tv shows, games (not free), music on demand
Bathrooms / Lavatories 6 in coach 4 in coach, no standing area to wait in line, very cramped
Galley drinks, snacks, after meal service drinks after meal service, snacks in galley.
Hub Airport Newark is a big airport, security lines are long, shopping is decent Philadelphia is a medium size airport, security lines are shorter, no body scan machine yet as of Jan 2011.
Cabin Crew Plentiful, pleasant, and efficient, Hebrew speaker always on staff. Nice crew
Advantages Bigger plane, more room to stretch in the cabin on a long flight. Great entertainment system. Good connections with Continental / United to anywhere in USA from Newark. 2 seats on window vs 3 on Continental, Philly is an easier airport to navigate. Great for avoiding New York.
Disadvantages Newark Airport. 3 seats on window. Tougher to get in and out. Seat pitch is less than on 747. make sure to bring a neck pillow. Smaller plane, cabin crew takes seats near lavatories, absolutely no room to stretch. You are stuck in your seat the entire flight.
Frequent Flyer One Pass Star Alliance. Easy to book award travel online. Many seats are blocked out, though. Continental has a local office in Tel Aviv. Offers 25,000 miles if you sign up and take their credit card. Award travel easy to book online generally with similar miles needed as continental (25,000 for domestic round trip).
Price Tends to be as pricey as El Al Usually less expensive than Continental
Overall Score B+ B

Please share with us your experiences.