Search icon


01st Nov 2019

Come Flea With Me: Sir Richard Branson haggles flight prices in Tel Aviv market


Have you ever wondered how good Sir Richard Branson is at haggling?

To celebrate Virgin Atlantic’s latest route – the airline now offers flights to Tel Aviv – the international businessman extraordinaire surprised locals in the city’s famous Jaffa Market. Not only that, but he even set up his own stall – pithily named ‘Come Flea with me’ – and offered punters the chance to come and take him on.

No, not in the marketplace of ideas. But in the actual marketplace, a magical realm where you can grind the local grocer down to within an inch of their lives to secure a bag of oranges for 6p.

And so it transpired, as Sir Richard was taken to task by several savvy shoppers, some of whom managed to secure mammoth discounts on flights.

One Israeli local visiting the stall was offered $450 for return flights to London but wasn’t having any of it. He explained to Sir Richard that was the kind of price he’d usually pay, so – and I’m not kidding – he pulled out a calculator, divided that amount by 10 and boldly showed the new figure to the Virgin founder.

Remarkably, Branson conceded to the $45 counteroffer, a 90% discount.

Another married couple also convinced Branson to throw in a business class upgrade for their return tickets to celebrate their anniversary (along with a Virgin handbag) but unfortunately, not everyone managed to benefit.

One British man was left with an understandably disappointed wife after he walked away with nothing other than a toy plane because he hadn’t believed the stall was real. Even though Sir Richard himself was sat there.

Israel is famous for its savvy negotiators, so I wanted to go head to head with some of its residents to put my skills to the test and I had to bring my A-game,” Sir Richard said, after taking on some of the world’s fiercest negotiators. And the guy with the toy plane.

You can see how the Virgin boss got on in the video below:

The new route is now open from London Heathrow (LHR) to Tel Aviv Ben Gurion (TLV) daily and year-round, with flights taking 4hr 55 mins.