EL Al plane
EL Al planeIsrael news photo: Flash 90

Airline fees for various items once were included in the ticket price or that were simply never charged for have become the latest method of milking passengers for more money.

But El Al Airlines -- already fairly pricey due to the need to maintain a high security profile -- managed to drive away one of its most prestigious passengers last week after attempting to charge President Shimon Peres nearly $5,000 to carry an oxygen tank on board. The tank is considered mandatory equipment whenever the president or prime minister travels abroad.

Peres simply looked elsewhere for a better deal.

The international Associated Press news wire, meanwhile, picked up the story from Israeli media – as did  USA Today and numerous other international news outlets.

And Peres decided to choose Air Canada for his official trip to Canada after El Al had broken the proverbial camel's back with its faux pas -- despite an after-the-fact apology by the airline.

Air Canada did not charge the 88-year-old Israeli president for carrying the oxygen tank.

Peres arrived Sunday night on his official four-day state visit to Ottawa. “Canada is always positive, never indifferent, never neutral,” he said graciously in his remarks at an official welcoming ceremony Monday that included full military honors and a 21-gun salute.

The president was expected to meet with Prime Minister Stephen Harper later in the day on security and trade, with a eye toward deepening bilateral ties.