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El Al Airlines Charges the President an Extra Fee for Carrying an Oxygen Tank on Board

El Al, Israel’s national airline, has made a not so wise judgment call that is going to lead to a lot of negative publicity. El Al is typically the airline of choice when the president, prime minister and other VIP fly for official business trips. However, when President Shimon Peres booked a flight with the airlines, it decided to charge him an additional $5,000 for the addition of an oxygen tank.

According to safety procedure, an oxygen tank and other emergency first aid equipment are mandatory whenever the president, prime minister or other politician travel abroad by air.

Upon hearing of El Al’s plans of charging for the extra carry-on, Peres cancelled the flight and booked a flight instead with Air Canada.

Anat Friedman, a spokeswoman for El Al, issued an apology to the president. Israeli officials have acknowledged the apology and said that the president wishes to put the matter behind him.

President Peres will be arriving to Canada as a witness when the memorandum of understanding between the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities and the Royal Society of Canada is signed. He will also be meeting with Quebec Premier Jean Charest and Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty. Part of the trip will include a stop in Ottawa with Prime Minister Stephen Harper for a talk on security, peace and trade.

President Peres played a pivotal role in the negotiating of the Oslo Accords in 1992 and received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1995 along with Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

While most airlines are struggling financially, they need to really consider the consequences when tacking on additional fees. The bad publicity could prove to be far more costly in the long haul. Hopefully, for El Al, their blunder in judgment is something they can recover from.

El Al to Join Up With Canadian Airline WestJet

The unique relationship between Israel and Toronto has taken another step forward on September 12, when Canadian Airline WestJet and Israel’s airline El Al announced a joint move where tickets which are purchased on El Al for Toronto, may now be purchased combining connecting flights to one of WestJet’s 30 Canadian destinations, as well as the Caribbean and Florida.

The official signing of the new contract happened in Israel on September 12 before Elyezer Shkedy, President and CEO of El Al; Dinah Kutner, general manager El Al Canada; and one Gregg Saretsky, president and CEO of WestJet.

Gregg Saretsky travelled all the way to the Jewish Country just to sign this historic agreement. Also in attendance at the ceremony was Paul Hunt the Canadian Ambassador to Israel.

Thus far, El Al already has agreements under a similar structure with a number of US airlines including JetBlue, American Airlines and Virgin America.

Upon check-in, passengers receive their boarding cards to their final destination, whether WestJet or Tel Aviv destinations as a consequence of the Interline Through Check-In agreement that was established between the airlines. (Some passengers can save money when arranging travel plans online.)

Gregg Saretsky of WestJet was heard saying:

“We are delighted to partner with El Al Israel Airlines to make travel across our mutual networks easier for our guests as we continue to expand our partnerships…WestJetters are looking forward to welcoming El Al guests aboard our flights.”

Elyezer Shkedy of El Al:

“We are proud to partner with WestJet…This agreement with WestJet provides various options to our Israeli and Canadian customers and is a continuation of the El Al strategy in expanding commercial agreements, both interline and codeshare, with leading carriers around the world.”

Dinah Kutner of El Al Canada said:

“The agreement expands and improves the network of destinations in North America and the Caribbean, especially to destinations in Canada like Montreal, Vancouver, Ottawa, Calgary, as well as for WestJet’s routes including Mexico, Hawaii, Cuba and the Dominican Republic all via El Al’s gateway in Toronto…Toronto is a perfect gateway as Israelis do not require entry visas to Canada and that both airlines operate from the same terminal in Toronto (Terminal 3).”

Starting next week, special introductory prices are available combining WestJet and EL AL. EL AL Matmid Frequent Flyers may now receive an additional 20% points for tickets that combine WestJet and EL AL flights from 1-30 November 2011.

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