What is the Best Way to Fly from Tel Aviv to Atlanta?
February 2, 2009 3:11 AM   Subscribe

Some quick questions about booking an international flight.

I need to get from Tel Aviv to Atlanta, with one catch. The domestic portion of my travel is being paid for. How do I figure out what would be the cheapest city in America to fly to from Israel?

Secondly, I have enough latitude in the dates of my trip that I can be departing and returning almost any day of the week. Are there specific days of the week for international travel that would potentially get me cheaper fares?

Finally, my departure date will be around February 25th. Should I be buying the ticket as soon as possible because prices will definitely be going up, or is that not necessarily the case. Thanks!
posted by davidstandaford to Travel & Transportation (14 answers total)
Kayak.com's buzz feature may be useful to you, although it is not comprehensive.
posted by alexei at 3:29 AM on February 2, 2009

I bet you a dollar (shekel?) that New York or Miami is the answer. Not just 'cause of the Jewish populations there, but because they're the biggest East Coast airports.
posted by Netzapper at 4:09 AM on February 2, 2009

Talk to a travel agent. They have the tools and (one hopes) the experience to answer just this sort of question.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 4:10 AM on February 2, 2009

Go to New York.

There are a bunch of different ways via Europe and other places to to get to and from Israel from the states, but you will have the most options by being able to fly into JFK or Newark. Also, don't quote me on this, but I think El Al has direct service from Tel Aviv to Newark, which would probably be your fastest option if the tickets work for your budget.

And yes, I would be looking to book those tickets, like yesterday. There is some chance that the ticket prices may go down over the next couple of weeks but there is also a very significant possibility of the fares going up due to certain fare classes becoming unavailable to you (many fare types require a 14 day advance purchase at a minimum, for example).
posted by dyslexictraveler at 5:13 AM on February 2, 2009

Because the price is influenced by the number of competing flights to a destination, it seemingly can only be a few different cities: NYC, Miami, Atlanta, St. Louis, Chicago, Denver, and LA. You could just price flights to those cities and note the cheapest (but that may vary by day of the week and month).

I don't think there is a rule that can be applied to how far in advance to book a ticket, but more than a month or about 1 week in advance generally seem cheapest. But it can vary by season, destination, current price of fuel, etc.

As a somewhat related observation, I fairly often price international tickets to both Boston and New York at the same time. I don't recall ever seeing a difference of more than $100. So I don't think you'll see a huge price difference between big east coast cities. Assuming you consider your time worth something, take the quickest route. Any money saved flying to Denver or LA is likely not worth the extra time spent traveling.

An additional consideration is that Miami and Atlanta (and LA) are not often effected by weather delays. Avoid flying to the Northeast or Chicago if you want to avoid getting grounded by a winter storm en route. One day spent waiting out a snow storm can easily cost more than you might save flying through New York.

Finally, if go with a travel agents and travel agents work on commission where you are, you may want to ensure they're sufficiently motivated to find the cheapest flight.
posted by McGuillicuddy at 5:15 AM on February 2, 2009

Flights to Israel in February are the cheapest I've seen them in my years of traveling to Israel. New York/Newark is probably going to be your cheapest gateway.

That said, Delta flies nonstop from Atlanta, and if time/convenience are factors, it might be worth it for you to suck up the extra $50 or so.

Also look at Toronto as a North American gateway.
posted by j1950 at 5:17 AM on February 2, 2009

One last thing: your flights will almost certainly be cheaper if they coincide with the Jewish Sabbath (Friday night/Saturday), though the selection might be more limited.
posted by j1950 at 5:18 AM on February 2, 2009

you say your domestic flights are covered, that's the only reason i can see recommending anything but flying straight into atlanta. atlanta's the busiest airport on the eastern seaboard and has numerous direct flights from most major european airports. decide what connecting flight you want in europe, then fly straight into atlanta.
posted by camdan at 5:22 AM on February 2, 2009

Try Skyscanner

Although 'Tel Aviv to USA' is too general, you can check the cheapest flight to the USA from Tel Aviv, among other search vectors.
It's a great site, and regularly outperforms the travel agent I use!
posted by BadMiker at 6:28 AM on February 2, 2009

Hmmm. Link didnt work.

posted by BadMiker at 6:28 AM on February 2, 2009

Finding the best price on any route is a monumental task, due to complicates airline pricing structures. Just paging through a few online sites, it seems most days during that week are pretty good, except the 24th. I would have thought Delta would be the cheapest, but their non-stop seems particularly expensive, while non-US airlines show some of the cheapest flights. For example, Czech Airlines offers the flight on the 25th at just over $1,000 after taxes, and a business class seat at $1,500 after taxes. Meanwhile, a Delta flight with stops runs about $1,500 in coach, and a direct flight is even more expensive.

The biggest question is not so much which city you wish to fly through, but which airline you prefer to fly. If that is not an issue, check with the non-US carriers, Czech Air and Alitalia popped up multiple times as some of the best deals during that week.
posted by Saydur at 7:56 AM on February 2, 2009

You'll have to do the legwork to be sure, but NYC (all airports) Washington DC are your best bets. If you're wavering on when to book, farecast.com is a good place to try, but airfare gets more expensive a week or two before the flight. The reason being that people who book late are usually business customers who (1) can afford bigger fares and (2) find out they're traveling at latest notice.
posted by JuiceBoxHero at 9:34 AM on February 2, 2009

I can definitely say that tickets are not always more expensive a week or two before a flight. Nor are last minute tickets necessarily cheaper or more expensive. The price is highly variable depending on how many seats are available, the likelihood of all seats being sold before take-off, and the estimated cost to the airline for the desired route.

I booked my last international flight on December 24, 2008. If I flew December 27th, it would have been half the price of the flight I took on January 2nd. I was unable to find another flight in December or January that was as cheap as the 27th, but January 6th was the next cheapest flight in January at the time I booked the flight.

I've also had about a week of notice before a trip, checked prices and found them too high, eventually decided to book last minute, and found prices just went up.

The anecdotes above involved checking multiple sites for each trip, including Kayak, Orbitz, and the relevant airline sites.
posted by McGuillicuddy at 12:10 PM on February 2, 2009

Thanks for all the info, there was some great advice here, but it turns out I found a great flight on delta for much less than I was expecting to pay, so I'm all set.
posted by davidstandaford at 3:32 PM on February 3, 2009

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