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What You Need to Know About Air Travel to Israel This Week

(Update, 9:15 a.m., July 24) The FAA has lifted its ban on U.S. flights to and from Ben Gurion Airport. The agency continues to monitor the situation.

U.S. travelers hoping to visit Israel soon may have to rework their plans. Yesterday, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a 24-hour ban on U.S. airlines flying to or from Ben Gurion. The restriction was authorized in response to a rocket strike that happened near the airport. This afternoon, the agency followed up with an extension on the ban: For another 24-hour period at the very least, U.S. flights to Tel Aviv are prohibited.

The State Department has warned that Americans should consider deferring travel to the region as the conflict between Hamas and Israel escalates. This warning was posted on Monday; read it here.

Not everyone thinks such cautions are appropriate, including Israel’s Transportation Ministry, which says that Ben Gurion is safe. Select international carriers continue to operate flights to and from the Tel Aviv area. Meanwhile, the Israel Tourism Commissioner issued a statement encouraging travel to the country, saying, “Please know that life in Israel, and tourism to Israel, goes on and we welcome all visitors in peace. Some 75,000 tourists are in the country, and their travel arrangements are proceeding as planned.”

Whether you think it’s a good idea to visit Israel right now or not, your air-travel options from the States are limited. Here’s what’s happening with the three U.S. carriers that fly to Tel Aviv:

  • US Airways will waive change fees for passengers with tickets to Ben Gurion for travel through the end of the month. The airline is following the FAA directive issued on today and on Tuesday, but it hasn’t banned flights to Tel Aviv indefinitely.
  • United also is allowing travelers to change itineraries at no charge for those scheduled to fly before August 16. The airline has stopped flights until further notice.
  • Delta has suspended its Tel Aviv-New York flights until further notice. You can rebook your travel for free.

The response from international carriers has been varied. El Al hasn’t canceled a thing. Alitalia has suspended service. As it stands, Lufthansa has grounded flights to Tel Aviv through Thursday.

The bottom line is that you can still fly in and out of Tel Aviv on some international carriers if you’re comfortable with that. You can find a list of airlines that continue to operate in and out of Ben Gurion on the airport’s website. But until the FAA lifts its ban, U.S. travelers are more or less stuck.

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