Flights Abroad During Passover Will Prove Pricey for Israelis

An El Al flight to London from April 21 to 27 currently costs $884, versus the $654 it cost in January. It’s the same all over.

An El Al plane on the tarmac at Tel Aviv's Ben-Gurion International Airport.
Daniel Bar-On

If you were thinking about going abroad for Passover, you better think fast. Schools have started their Passover vacations, and if you haven’t bought your plane tickets, you’re in for a shock. Prices are going up.

Passover itself begins in a week. Ben-Gurion International Airport is expected to see heavy traffic starting Sunday, when some 61,000 passengers are expected to pass through.

Over the following two weeks, around 1.1 million people are expected to pass through Israel’s main airport, a 14% increase from the same period last year. Some 6,900 takeoffs and landings are expected over that period – a 15% increase.

The busiest days are forecast to be Thursday, April 21, with 71,000 passengers; Thursday, April 28, with 68,000 passengers; and Sunday, May 1, with 77,000 passengers. People traveling on those days are advised to give themselves ample time at the airport.

At least 134 low-cost flights will be taking of from Terminal 1 every week, at a peak of 29 in one day.

Top destinations over the holiday are Turkey – with most passengers using the main airport there to continue on to other destinations – as well as the United States, Italy, France and Greece.

Most people planning to fly abroad for the holiday already have their plane tickets. One traveler recounted finding a good last-minute deal to Barcelona due to her willingness to spend time searching and her complete flexibility. She didn’t really care where she’d be going, and she’s traveling alone, so she’s not tied to anyone’s schedule.

But for most, tickets should prove expensive. Tickets for Passover week are currently selling for dozens of percentage points higher than the same tickets sold for in early January.

An El Al flight to London from April 21 to April 27 currently costs $884, versus the $654 it cost in January. A flight to Bucharest in that stretch now costs $618, up from $466. An El Al flight to New York from April 18 to May 1 costs $1,608, versus $1,180 in January.

Flights to Western Europe for the intermediate days of Passover are also approaching all-time highs, apparently because tickets are nearly gone. A flight to Rome now costs $814 on El Al, while tickets to Berlin are at $680 on EasyJet, up from the usual $300 or so.

Likewise, tickets during Passover cost more than tickets for the week before Passover. The cheapest flight TheMarker found to Berlin for the week before Passover was $530, on Air Berlin, while the cheapest during the intermediate days of Passover was $678, on Easy Jet.

Meanwhile, hotels in Israel are nearly fully booked for the holiday. Last week, MK Meir Cohen (Yesh Atid) denounced the country’s high hotel prices, calling on Israelis to avoid hotels in protest of their prices for Passover vacations.

But apparently the prices are a matter of supply and demand; most of the country’s hotel chains will be full for the holiday. Isrotel said only a few rooms were left at the chain’s Eilat hotel during the first night of Passover, while Fattal said occupancy at its hotels near Jerusalem, in the north and at the Dead Sea was at 90% to 95% for the first night. On the intermediate days of Passover, occupancy is at 55% to 75% for hotels in these areas.

Passengers flying abroad on Israeli airlines can take advantage of a relatively new service to save time at the airport – remote check-in. Passengers get the option to pay for early check-in from their own device, including security questioning and baggage checking. They can then go straight to passport control at the airport.