Eight life changing adventurous years have passed since buying our home in Jerusalem. Adventures are magical, travel is another…
Twenty years ago we had “the coveted route”, nonstop flights Chicago-Tel Aviv. It seemed obvious. We had one of the most passionate Zionist Jewish communities, sending volumes of people on missions and educational tours/programs to Israel. We still do…We were shocked when it was cancelled.
Without nonstop flights, some travelers experience missed connections and lost/delayed luggage. For business travel, delays are costly headaches. Launching my Bi-National design business necessitated commuting regularly from Chicago. It’s not an easy commute. Even with a great attitude, I prefer nonstop. I always wonder will it ever return?
Here are my coping mechanisms..
-Go into ZEN mode
-Binge watch movies
-Glass of wine
-“poof” I am there
I joined the American Israeli Chamber of Commerce and made wonderful networking connections. Several years ago AICC honored United at their fundraiser. Hope was in the air that United would resume “the coveted route”. I began knocking on doors. I formed a committee, and sent an email (via a connection of a friend) to the Mayor of Chicago listing reasons why Chicago would benefit if United had a nonstop route ORD-TLV. Apparently he liked my points.
I managed to get a 20 minute phone meeting with a top level executive at United. I sent him a list of why it was in United’s best interest to have a nonstop route ORD-TLV. I was told the points were valid but United was not willing to have THAT ROUTE YET. Their main concerns/considerations were:
1- Could they fill the business class section?
2- Massive groups on discounted flights was not a good business model.
3- United would consider ORD-TLV if another carrier would start flying that route. (Apparently United likes competition).
Until recently United flew nonstop US-Israel via Newark only. A few years ago United added a nonstop San Francisco-TLV route due to the booming tech business with Israeli start-ups. The route became wildly successful, filling business class every flight. United was pleasantly surprised. This year United added a third nonstop destination, deciding between Chicago and Washington DC. DC was chosen. Why? They already had an East Coast route? United we understand you are a business and not a charity, but come on…
Here is the list of points/questions, sent to the United executive and Mayor of Chicago…
-Chicago is the HEADQUARTERS and a main hub of United!
-Many Chicagons (me included) are frequent fliers and loyal to United.
-People can fly into Chicago (center of the country) from almost anywhere in the US or world then connect to Israel.
-What metrics are used for evaluating profitable routes?
-How did United decide to fly San Francisco-TLV, Washington DC-TLV?
-Is there a way to determine how many seats are sold Royal Jordanian, nonstop Chicago-Amman? Many Israelis drive to Amman (approximately an hour drive) or fly to Amman then connect onto Chicago!
-Is there a way to determine how many seats on the Toronto-TLV and Newark-TLV routes are originating from Chicago?
-How did Air Canada/United decide to add a nonstop from Montreal-TLV? The Chicago Jewish community is 3x that of the Montreal Jewish community.
-If Chicago is United’s hub, could United take advantage of Chicago’s geography and high tech environment to market United/Chicago as the US tech hub? Abundant marketing opportunities. United can offer conference rooms in O’Hare for a summit, Israelis, San Fran and NY tech people can fly in and out in a day. There are Israelis working in San Francisco and Boston, that meet at 1871 (a tech think tank) in the Merchandise Mart.
– Nonstop cities from the US to Israel by either United or ELAL are on the perimeter of the US. Many Israelis do not consider Chicago as a serious contender in the tech market to launch start-ups.
-ELAL opened a nonstop route Boston-TLV, Boston’s tech market soared!
Two years ago the Mayor of Chicago and Israeli Ambassador to the US courted ELAL to reopen the nonstop route Chicago-TLV. Miami was our competitor. Miami won. ELAL promised they would relaunch “the coveted route” in two years. ELAL just announced they are relaunching the nonstop route Chicago-TLV March 2020. On behalf of the Chicago Jewish community, we are GRATEFUL!
We’ve witnessed MIRACLES in our lifetime.
-The US Embassy relocating to Jerusalem.
-US pulling out of the Iran deal.
-ELAL nonstop route Chicago-TLV restored after 20 years.
Please support ELAL! Thank You Mr. Mayor, Israeli Ambassador to the US and to those who patiently listened to my pleas…OK United you have the competition you were waiting for. Are you going to reconsider a nonstop Chicago-TLV route now?