Trade Chief Lashes Out at El Al Over $150 Flight Change Fee

President of the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce, Uriel Lynn, calls move by El Al 'price gouging.'

The president of the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce is fighting back over the $150 fee El Al charges customers, including him, to change their flights.

The president of the federation, Uriel Lynn, sent El Al CEO Eliezer Shkedi a letter stating, "The matter about which I'm approaching you affects me personally, but it has repercussions for a large group of people due to the interruptions in flights from Europe to Israel due to the volcanic eruption." He continued, "Does changing the flight date by a day really justify charging another $150, which is NIS 561? The lack of proportion between the change and the charge is ridiculous. Is this a case of wrongly taking advantage of the situation?"

El Al plane
Avi Sherf

TheMarker found that Lynn left for London on an April 12 flight and had been scheduled to return on April 19. Lynn sought to delay his return by a day, and paid $150. But then Europe's skies shut down due to the Icelandic volcano.

"Due to the interruptions to flights, the flight for which the new ticket was reserved never took place, but the charge remained in place," he wrote. "I, and many others, were forced to return not on the date we chose, but on a later date (April 22 ). The result was that I paid a ridiculous sum of $150 for a flight that never even took place - which lacks any logic, as far as I can tell."

Lynn went on to call the move by El Al "price gouging."

"What effort exactly did the company employees expend in order to justify such a high charge? I'm ready to donate the money to El Al, but I'm speaking in the name of the public, which must be wondering whether this kind of charge is justified - especially when it's a matter of one day, and for a flight that never took place," he wrote.

El Al responded that all tickets have specific terms and limitations.

"The flexibility of every ticket, as well as its limitations, are factors of its price. All airlines charge flight change fees in keeping with the terms of each specific ticket," the company said. "In this specific case, the ICC president purchased a cheaper business-class ticket, which is subject to a flight change fee, which regardless of the circumstances of the change, costs $150. Since the change was made before the Icelandic volcano interrupted flight schedules, Mr. Lynn was charged the fee. In addition, El Al did not charge over cancellations and changes made due to the volcanic ash, even if the flight class was full, and accommodated all passengers with El Al tickets without additional charges through April 28."