Benzy Adler // Traveldesk

For thousands of foreigners who spent Sukkos in Eretz Yisrael, the shocking and horrifying turn of events led to many of them thinking about how to get home. People spent hours on the phone and in the airport, desperate for a flight out. Many willingly took flights with as many as five stopovers, flying for over 48 hours to arrive back in the US.
With many major carriers canceling flights, few people had the connections and technical ability to arrange something out of the ordinary. But Benzy Adler and his UK travel agency Traveldesk were able to pull something off.
Benzy turned a fledgling travel agency into one of the most popular in the UK. While they also handle domestic coach flights, they have a unique focus on high-end business travel around the world.
Working together with his friend and competitor Daniel Feld, Benzy arranged for several chartered flights out of Eilat directly to the UK. These flights enabled not only stranded UK passengers but also many Americans to get home, as well. These flights were not small planes either. They were 180-passenger Boeing 737-800 airplanes brought in from the Czech Republic to Israel amidst the turmoil.
I spoke to Benzy about his career, the travel agency industry, and the full story behind the chartered flights.            —Nesanel

Both sets of my grandparents were from Germany. My mother’s father was ten years old when he came here to England; he was part of the Kindertransport. His family perished. My mother is from London, as well.

I was born and grew up in Gateshead. I am one of 14 children, though tragically my youngest brother Shaya was killed in a car accident when he was eight years old. I went to local Gateshead yeshivos through beis midrash. I then went to Mir in Eretz Yisrael where I was one of the founding members of Rav Yoel Rabin’s shiur.

“My family had a strong influence on me. My grandfather was the famous Dr. Shlomo Adler, a family physician and personal doctor of many gedolim. He was an expert diagnostician and was extremely dedicated to his patients. My father, Reb Avraham Adler, is the foremost expert in Europe in the kashrus of medicine. He’s a pharmacist by profession and uses his knowledge to give hechsheirim and hashgachah in Europe. He also taught science for many years and was even my teacher throughout high school.

“My mother was a travel agent. She had a small agency in Gateshead called Adler Travel, and she would book flights for all the bachurim and seminary girls looking to fly to and from Israel. During one Pesach bein hazmanim, I was looking to do something productive, and my mother suggested I come work for her. I booked flights and helped people find rental cars for bein hazmanim. I spoke to rental agencies and got the best deals for bringing them several clients at a time. It was my first experience in this industry and I enjoyed it. I still do.

“I got married and learned in Eretz Yisrael for a couple of years, and then I came back to the UK. I began working for a company called Perfect Travel, owned by Avi Feld. I will forever have hakaras hatov to him for helping me start in this industry. Unlike my mother’s small business, this serviced corporate travel, booking expensive tickets for a wider range of clientele, including many business accounts. I understood what was best for my clients and arranged complicated itineraries for them. Most importantly, I developed a close relationship with my clients. They knew they could rely on me for all their travel plans and, specifically, for help if things went wrong.

“I worked at Perfect Travel for about six years, and then I went out on my own. In this industry, people like staying with the agent they feel comfortable with, so I was able to build a nice client base from my old clients. As the business kept growing, I hired more employees and we adapted to the times.

“Our business grew, and today a large number of our clients are corporate or business class passengers—UK-based people flying for business and vacation all over the globe.

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