The Captain Of El Al’s Flight #002 Lied To And Tricked His Own Passengers; It’s Time To Realize The Risks Of Taking These Flights

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Update 2: After reading the post below, please read this post with more breaking news on this story: Did El Al Invent Charedi Violence To Shift The Blame Away From The Airline’s Mistakes? A Timeline And The ATC Audio Where El Al Receives Permission To Return To The Gate!


Update: Several videos have been added to the end of this post. There are has been zero evidence of any sort of physical violence that El Al claimed had occurred, nor has El Al clarified on which of their 2 problematic flights the alleged violence occurred.

The real heroes of this story once again are Rabbi and Rebbetzin Hendel of Chabad of Greece. You can donate directly to their efforts here.


Two El Al flights from JFK to Tel Aviv ran into issues on Thursday.

El Al flight 8 was delayed by nearly 4 hours and wound up landing in Tel Aviv after Shabbos started. It was going to divert to Rome, but it flew to Tel Aviv due to a medical issue.

El Al flight 2, operated by a Boeing 747, was delayed by more than 5 hours. It had been scheduled to arrive into Tel Aviv 5 hours before sunset on Friday. It was diverted to Athens before Shabbos. It dumped all of its passengers in Athens and flew empty to Tel Aviv on Friday evening as they can’t transport passengers to Israel on Shabbos.

There is a lot of controversy about this flight.

El Al claims that some religious passengers became violent and it will file a complaint against these passengers.

Betsalel Steinhart writes in The Times of Israel that some 200 religious passengers spent Shabbos in Athens and that the local Chabad House was fantastic in making sure that the passengers had a memorable Shabbos.

He says that:

  • The flight was late to leave the gate as the bus taking the El Al crew to JFK was stuck in traffic. He faults El Al for not leaving sufficient time to get their crew to the airport before the flight.
  • At 11:40pm the plane was still sitting in line for takeoff. At this point the religious passengers realized there was no way for the plane to make it to Israel before Shabbos, so several stood up and demanded to return to the terminal. The pilot announced that they would return to the terminal to let passengers off if everyone would sit down. After everyone sat down the pilot proceeded to take off rather than return to the terminal.

He has several other complaints about El Al, but the pilot’s blatant lie is shocking and is telling about how El Al deals with religious passengers.

Several other passengers confirmed the same story and lie by the pilot. Here is a full trip report by Ben Chafetz that was posted on DDF.

Ben is a fellow Clevelander and I reached out to him to hear his perspective and the confirm whether the pilot lied.

He booked a business class ticket from Cleveland to Tel Aviv via JFK to visit his daughter in seminary. American cancelled his Cleveland to JFK flight, so he quickly used his United miles to book a flight from Cleveland to LaGuardia (sounds familiar!). Traffic in NYC on Thursday was horrendous, but he did make it to JFK on time to checkin for his El Al flight.

They waited several hours for the El Al crew to arrive and boarded around 8:30pm. Everything was calm for the first hour, but then people started getting antsy.

He didn’t notice any violence on the flight, but there was tension in the air.

Ben and several dozen other religious passengers stood up and asked to exit the plane. Flight attendants told them that they would forfeit their tickets, and they all agreed to that condition as they didn’t want to break Shabbos. The pilot announced that he would return to the gate as soon as everyone sat down and then anyone who wanted to deplane would be able to, while those who wanted to continue to Israel should stay on the plane.

Everyone took their seats, but Ben said, “I can’t begin to describe the sinking feeling in my stomach as I saw the plane turn away from the terminals and face the runway.”

He was on the phone with his Rabbi at the time as he told him that he thought the plane was turning to try to take off. His Rabbi asked if anyone else was standing again, but nobody was standing, so his Rabbi told him that surely others would be standing if the pilot was lying and trying to take off. But then all of the sudden to everyone’s shock, the plane was in the air!

Ben said the pilot exacerbated a bad situation by saying that religious passengers would be able to spend Shabbos in Athens while non-religious passengers would have to deplane in Athens and wait for a new plane.

Non-religious passengers started howling against the religious passengers for ruining their weekend, but the pilot did not explain that El Al rules prohibited them from flying into Tel Aviv on Shabbos. The pilot had no choice but to divert the plane, but the pilot made it seem that the diversion was due to the requests of the religious passengers and that created needless tension on the flight.

I’ve written in the past about how how El Al circumvents Shabbos issues. They had to fly another El Al plane from Tel Aviv to Athens under an Israir flight number to bring the non-religious passengers back home. Plus they had to fly the 747 back to Israel without any passengers.

Religious passengers on the flight were getting very nervous as they didn’t know when sunset was in Athens. Ben says that the pilot could have calmed the nerves of many by letting them know that sunset in Athens was later than in Israel.

By all accounts, Shabbos in Athens was saved thanks to Rabbi and Rebbetzin Hendel of Chabad of Athens. Rabbi Sorotzkin was onboard and sent word about the large number of religious passengers on the flight. Ben says it looked like it was an oragnized Shabbaton, he could not believe how amazing it was. This isn’t the first time this year that Chabad of Athens has rallied and done that, so major kudos goes to them.

Ben says that it felt like a true unity Shabbos. Everyone from Chasidim to Jews who don’t look outwardly religious did not want to violate Shabbos and had beautiful meals and prayers together. While at the Friday night meal people seemed to keep to their own sects, by Shabbos lunch people were mingling with each other and having a grand unity Shabbos.

While he enjoyed the Shabbos, Ben says that he would never fly to Israel on a Thursday again. However Ben doesn’t plan to request compensation from El Al as he appreciated that he was accommodated at the Sofitel and taken care of on Shabbos and he doesn’t want El Al to stop offering that in the future to others who wind up in this situation. He comments that the best PR for El Al would have been if they managed to take any video of the beautiful Shabbos.

A travel agent on DDF reports and Ben confirmed that El Al only reserved hotel rooms at the Sofitel for passengers who reserved mehadrin meals. That’s yet another reason to reserve mehadrin glatt kosher meals. People paid for additional rooms and suites as needed at the hotel.

Arutz Sheva quotes former National Union lawmaker Yaakov Katz as saying about El Al, “Everything is lies. The captain lied the entire way and said untrue things. He said that we were soon leaving, that we would land before Shabbat. He said that he was returning to the gate but instead of returning to the gate he went and took off.”

Hamodia quotes more passengers, including DansDeals readers, corroborating the pilot’s lie.

From the DansDeals Facebook group:

 

While El Al does not operate on Shabbos, it’s not a surprise to religious Jews that have flown other airlines to Israel that other airlines are more respectful of their religion. That goes for everything from praying on a plane to kicking off religious passengers for seat assignment issues.

I’ve interviewed multiple El Al executives about a wide range of issues, from their mileage program to issues that they have with religious passengers, though El Al has yet to allow me to publish the interviews on the record and probably never will.

I’ve said that I don’t see how a Dr. Dao type of situation is avoidable on El Al as one day they will try to eject a religious passenger from a flight who won’t go quietly, and they will have to call law enforcement to forcibly remove him. I noted that many readers have asked why El Al doesn’t just designate the last few rows of the plane be designated as blue or pink on the seat map and those rows can be expanded or contracted as needed for passengers that desire separate seating?

The reps have said that would be discriminatory and would be comparable to the Rosa Parks story, though I don’t see how. This would entail religious Jews self-selecting to sit in the back of the plane.

Clearly this won’t be the last story that highlights that religious issues at El Al, but there needs to be a change for religious Jews as well.

This is not the first time this year that a Thursday El Al flight was diverted to Athens. I wrote about how El Al flight 8 stranded passengers at Athens airport here.

El Al managed to anger everyone on that flight.

And this is how they circumvent Shabbos issues.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Religious Jews need to stop taking flights that are too close to Shabbos. I wrote that earlier this year when an El Al flight from Newark to Tel Aviv was delayed 4 hours and arrived into Tel Aviv less than an hour before Shabbos.

As I said then,

I hope that Shabbos observing Jews can take these stories to heart and try to avoid taking flights that are scheduled to land within 6 or 7 hours of candle lighting time, unless there is a true emergency. That allows enough time for a 4 hour delay and time to get from the airport to your destination or it gives you the ability to wait 4 hours on the runway and then deboard at your origin airport without needing to cause a scene.

After seeing how El Al blatantly lied in this situation, I’ll change my recommendation.

Religious Jews, except in the case of an emergency, should not fly from North America on a flight that is scheduled to land in Israel on Friday, period.

United cancelled their flights to Israel on Thursday, but clearly El Al had no qualms lying to their passengers and then inconveniencing both their religious and non-religious passengers with a diversion that they knew would be unavoidable by taking off so late.

The reason El Al did that is likely so that they don’t need to cancel the return flight from Tel Aviv to JFK this morning. But clearly they don’t calculate the reputational cost of such a tactic.

Travel agents should steer their passengers away from these flights. Think about the client the travel agent risked upsetting in the MH370 story, before it turned out that he saved his life.

It costs tens of thousands of dollars annually for a family to practice religious Judaism in the US. Think about that the next time you select a Thursday flight departure to Israel in order to save a day of work or to save a couple hundred dollars on a flight.

El Al does not care about your religious observances, their bottom line will come first and that’s their prerogative. If you want to ensure that you don’t enter a situation where you have to violate Shabbos, then it’s up to you to know the risks and choose your flight responsibly.

People may not have been aware of the risks up until now, but it should now be abundantly clear that religious passengers should avoid these Thursday flights except in the case of emergency.

Here are some videos, courtesy of Ben Chafetz.

People getting nervous about Shabbos after sitting on the tarmac for hours:

 

Passengers asking to deplane while El Al reps tell them to stop taking pictures. The pilots would later agree to return to the terminal, but it was a ploy to get people to sit down so that they could take off:

 

One woman berates those asking to deplane by saying that they would arrive in Israel 90 minutes before Shabbos while other passengers tell her that you can’t fly to Israel in 7 hours:

 

Ben responds to rumors that they were supposed to divert to Rome. In fact a different El Al flight was supposed to divert there, but wound up flying to Tel Aviv on Shabbos due to a medical situation:

Were you on the flight? Share your experience in the comments!


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182 Comments On "The Captain Of El Al’s Flight #002 Lied To And Tricked His Own Passengers; It’s Time To Realize The Risks Of Taking These Flights"

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FF

“Religious Jews, except in the case of an emergency, should not fly on a flight that is scheduled to land in Israel on Friday, period.”

You would want to clarify that probably. I would say a flight that lands early Friday morning like 6-8am should be no issue.

Took a flight from Europe to Israel for example to land on a Friday morning. I would see no issue with that.

Adam

From Europe to Israel is fine. I think Dan means US/Canada to Israel

vabih

I would expand Dan’s statement to never plan to land, on any flight, on a Friday, period. I’ve flown YYZ-LGA once/month for the past year, usually Mon-Thurs. I’ve rarely had an on-time landing. Granted, it’s a couple mins or an hour, but a few weeks ago, we were stuck on the tarmac after landing for 2 hours waiting for a gate. It was a Thursday night. Had it been a Friday morning, even if I had planned to land at 10 am, you’re talking 2 hour delay, plus 1-1.5 hours to get out of LGA to Brooklyn, for 4 pm candle lighting.

We’ve had to learn the hard way. My sister’s NY-FLL flight was canceled this year erev pesach, causing her to miss the holidays with us. I’ve missed other family functions, because of delays that left me unable to board the plane for fear of landing on shabbat.

The new rule? Don’t plan to land, anywhere, on a Friday. Especially in the winter.

Abe

Are there any reprecussions to a captain that blatantly lies?

Hanna

Everything is fine, and it’s the passengers fault for taking the Thursday flight…. Until the pilot blatantly lied. That’s just sickening IMHO

Motti

I’m guessing some passengers will sue El Al. The pilot technically kidnapped them when he didn’t let them get off the plane.

S

That’s pushing it… when you book a flight, you agree to the airline rules which include not being able to leave the plane once you board.
They may be able to sue him for other reasons, but just didn’t like your term of kidnapping.

joe

the pilot does not need to let them off!!!

David Rauer

Well stated

Moshe

At what point do we boycott them for just a week to get a point across?

Sholom

No point… Boycott then period…

(Haven’t flown El Al in the longest time… Worst airline)

M

Was Ben one of the passengers that hit the flight attendants until they were sobbing and hiding in the corner while non-religious passengers where protecting them?

Samuel

Fabricated.

Mendel

It’s not just a lie. He took them against their will by lying to them about the destination.

How is this not kidnapping?

The gallery

As its said about Elal… they hit rock bottom and started digging.

SGF

I met a passenger that was supposed to be in UA 84 EWR-TLV on Thursday. It was delayed due to weather and then cancelled because the crew was going to be on shift for too long.
However, the gate agent did tell him during rebooking that they will reimburse passengers for food + 2 Hotel nights knowing that religious passengers will not fly on Shabbos and accommodated them on the Saturday night flight. This is despite the fact that they always don’t reimburse for hotel stay if it was weather related.

Carl M Sherer

Wow…. That’s unusual….

Work-for-ur-muny

I was going to say “shocking”, but unfortunately it’s not… Horrifying is better placed. SAD.

Dave

For the captain to brazenly lie like he did, is shocking to say the least. If I could, I’d avoid El Al like the plague.

Helen

I already do. I’ve been to Israel many many times and NEVER flew Elal in my life and don’t plan to anytime in the near future (or even in the distant future if I can help it).

Samuel

Not me nor my Family have flown Elal for years.
Maybe when they appoint a European or American CEO who understands what customer service is then maybe….

Ed Travel

Both are wrong:
It is wrong to transgress the the Shabbos:
Shemot 20:8 “Remember Yom HaShabbos, to keep it kodesh.”
But it is also wrong as wrong to lie:
Shemot 20:16 “Thou shalt not bear ed sheker against thy neighbor.”

Work-for-ur-muny

Dan, you should edit this site with a new tag, (perhaps also with a link on the top of the page) called “El Al Fiascos”…
They are occurring far too often

Rivka Pomerantz

I have tickets booked for a Thursday flight, scheduled to land in Israel Friday morning (9 am I think) with air Canada. Do you suggest paying a fee and changing my plans ASAP?

Mark

Are you sure the pilot lied? Because it isn’t the pilot who decides whether to take off or to return to the gate. It’s possible that the plane was holding in line for takeoff, then gave up and decided to return to gate, and then air traffic control suddenly opened a slot for immediate takeoff. And once the slot opened, the pilot decided to grab it because the next one could be hours later.

David R

Someone should go listen to that recording.

Loren Spigelman

Even if that’s true it doesn’t matter. There were passengers who wanted to get off and they said ok. Then they took off against their will.

KSMH

United and Delta usually don’t have issues with religious Jews. It’s sad that the so called “Jewish” airline cannot accommodate their religious passengers.

clever

we should open a new thread, “best pilot lies”..

Naphtali

An Israeli lied?!?!?! No way!!

A

Lol!

learner

Has there ever been real issues with the 1.15 pm from ewr?

Az

I don’t think the words “lied to the passengers” are entirely accurate to describe what happened. I would venture to guess that the pilot called operations and was told by them not to return to the gate (as in a direct order). The choice to take off at that point may have been completely out of his hands. What people need to realize is that El Al is not a religious airline/organization. They may serve kosher food, have kosher entertainment options, and have an official policy not to fly on Shabbos, but understand well that the policy was only kept in place after the Charedim boycotted the airline, greatly hurting their bottom line. They didn’t reinstate their Shabbos policy for philosophical and grandiose moral reasons, it was simply about what was best for business. Therefore, and I can say this based on monthly trips on United to Tel Aviv, many times flying 90 to Israel on Thursday night and 85 on Fridays, your chances of booking a Thursday night flight and arriving on time, do not improve at all by booking on El Al. In fact, based on this Athens/Rome, we’re going, we’re not going nonsense, I’d say you’re better off on United or Delta if you need to fly on a Thursday for the following reasons

A) I’ve actually been on 90 when they will emphasize a timely boarding as “we have passengers who need to arrive before sundown”. They care and feel a responsibility (and probably understand the legal ramifications of even remotely violating a passengers religious rights) whereas El Al, again, is run like a backyard camp, and could. Care. Less.

B) El Al is a tiny airline compared to United or Delta and as such has to deal with much more serious implications of an aircraft being stuck on the wrong side of the world and missing its next leg. Think about how silly it is; the plane lands in Athens before Shabbos, and then the next night all 400 of those ppl need to get to Israel. Logic would dictate that assuming their security protocol could be met (which it should be able to as they have regular service to Athens), you park the plane at a remote stand, the pilot gets his required rest, Shabbos ends, you fire up the jet, and go. Worst case if the pilot timed out, they could get a new crew in very easily on Saturday. But El Al needs that plane to fly on 001 on Saturday, they don’t have a spare 747 sitting around like United has spare planes.

C) Espescially for passengers flying from outside NY, I can’t see how El Al would make any sense (for a Thursday evening or even for most other times). If you’re in Cleveland and weather rolls in in Newark, you jump on a flight to Chicago, grab any one of probably a dozen Star Alliance routing options through Europe, and you’re set.

To recap, I think the headlines in caps and yeshiva world breaking news post will accomplish zero with El Al. Maybe one day a religious person will buy the company and make it a serious priority but this current ownership clearly sees no reason so make it a priority. They know that the religious community feels a tremendous loyalty to them, probably because it’s a “Jewish” company and Bc of the food and security issues.

David Moskowitz

Wrong

#1, ElAl has quite a few birds sitting around. Somehow, Yom Tov season they can double uptheir flights.
#2, no Jew will want to buy their business. The chances of some other Jew starting his own airline are higher than that.
#3, if they are a Jewish company, let them act that way. If the bottom line was important, they can copy UA & DL

Shaul

Why did religious passengers board this flight in the first place? Reposts say boarding began at 830pm. If you figure it takes at least an hour to board a plane, and 10 hours minimum for the flight, the earliest they touch down in Israel is at 230pm at this point. Considering the weather at JFK at the time, a further delay seemed likely.

Qsman

I am very curious as to what the conversation was between JFK Ground ATC and the captain, and if he reported any cabin disturbance or any other requests to return to terminal. Can someone tell me what time the flight actually pushed back and what time the flight took off? Liveatc.net will have the tower recordings and I can find what I am looking for.

Srepw

I don’t have the info but would be real cool and informative if you can find us. Pls let us know.

Qsman

I dug through some recordings and found enough to incriminate the pilot. Scroll down where I posted a transcript

Carl M Sherer

According to FlightAware, El Al 002 took off from JFK at 11:46 pm on Thursday and landed in Athens at 3:08 pm on Friday (and then left again at 5:28 pm on Friday and landed on Ben Gurion at 6:55 pm on Friday – so much for them not flying on Shabbos).

If you find something, I’d love to hear it.

Judith Rosenfeld

I try to a avoid traveling with ELAL period. I would definitely not leave on a Thursday night and especially not on a day like this Thursday with all that bad weather. As everyone said- ELAL cares nothing about his passengers-religious or otherwise.

ExGingi

While I am sure Rabbi Sorotzkin’s intentions were good, wouldn’t he have done better calling on everyone NOT TO BOARD THE FLIGHT, rather than taking steps to ensure that everyone can be accommodated for Shabbos wherever the plane might land?

David Moskowitz

Rabbi Soritzkin is not a ticking agent. He is a passenger.

Myi

Beautiful story about the MH370.

ShmuliT

What happened with the people on flight 8 who landed in TLV on shabbos?

Yochai

Flight 008 was scheduled to land very close to shabbos anyway. So it’s unlikely there were frum Jews there.

Noah

I flew an el all flight from Barcelona, and when I called to confirm the mehadrin meal, they told me there was no meal on that leg of the flight. Turns out there was a meal, and no kosher for me. They also lost my luggage and I had a hell of a time getting it back. I’m never flying el al.

American in Israel

Israelis lie to your face and are comfortable with it. I’ve been living in Israel for 15 years and it is very common.

Israelis are Jews

We must be related

Carl M Sherer

Indeed. Living in Israel for 27 years, working in America for 12. That’s one reason why I work in America.

Dr. B. M. Nemon

What’s the difference between El Al and Saudia (Saudi Arabia’s airline)? Saudia lies less.

Judy

Hi Dan, I was on flight 02. I appreciate your viewpoint, but I would be careful about putting blame on passengers. People fly on Thursdays because we have to. Many of us had work or family obligations. We chose a flight that was scheduled to arrive before noon on Friday. Once we saw the forecast, we left extra time to get to the airport, which the crew chose not to do; basically ensuring that they would arrive late. And of course, I couldn’t see the whole plane, but I did not see any violent passengers; I did see upset and angry passengers of all backgrounds. Finally, I want to say B’H”: it took awhile but we all got to our destination safely and securely. And I’ll add a huge thank you to Chabad of Greece for turning what could’ve been a disaster into a beautiful Shabbat. Thank you.

Henry weber

Well Mr Dan, I totally agree with you on that.
I’m a Bus driver for Monsey Tours Thursday night I was scheduled to leave Williamsburg to Monsey at 10pm after all the bus schedules have been cancelled due to weather and traffic so heres the thing
I got up and announced about 4 time over the PA and personally to all passengers before leaving that it’s on “there own risk” about time of arrival and hell yeah everyone that was on that bus was prepared for a night on that bus I even told them to buy food and get ready for a long ride.
Bottom line we got to monsey 2 hours later and everyone went home safe and SATISFIED. I was being honest to everyone and no LIE.
It’s always best to tell the truth to passengers then regret the lies later and deal with the media.

H B

Thank you Dan for bringing this sad , unfortunate, horrible situation of open desecration of Sabbath. We must now act accordingly, and be sure Jews worldwide know of this terrible scenario. This is a modern day “Yaldei Tehran”. As one noted, “vote with your wallet”!
The expenses of Shabbos are above, and not counted in expenses, it comes back to you.
He who watches Shabbos, Shaboss watches him.
We must keep Shabbos, and all Commandants of the Holy Torah.
Surely when we fly, we need Heavenly security.

H B

A fellow traveler on el al commented to me after a attendant was rude to me for polity asking to sit near a man, “time for Mehadrin chartered flights for Rosh Hashonoh, Lag Bi’Omer, Succos, Pesach, etc…” The fellow from Monsey NY, then switched around his family seating, to kindly accommodate a fellow Jew he never met.
And el al? they sap our money with no decency!
“”Time for change”, “Make American Jews great again”!

H B

IN ORDER TO AVOID EL AL, WE MUST ACT ACCORDINGLY

United or Delta direct from JFK – EWR, Air Canada Direct from Toronto.
Many connecting flights for cheaper prices thru Europe, even Western, such as Norweign air available on google flights, among others.

STAND UP FOR YOUR RELIGION, & RIGHTS!

Ask your Rabbi, or Mentor what the right thing to do!

Kidnapped by ELAL

Why would this not be considered kidnapping?

The passengers and the pilot both knew that ELAL would not be flying them to TLV at that time (since it is against the terms of ELAL).

How can the pilot take the passengers against their will to another country? At that point didn’t the passengers have full right to disembark?

A civil an criminal lawsuit should be initiated!

Kidnapping is defined by law

Someone needs to go to law school

Zvi

As someone who frequently travels to Athens for work, I am a fan of the Chabad there. They don’t have a large Jewish community there, so the restaurant and shul are sparsely attended, but are friendly and warm, and just nice people. If you’re considering a small donation to make, I’m sure they could use it.

Joe

The origin of El Al’s name is the first verse of yesterday’s haftorah which is clearly not being lived up to… perhaps that ‘coincidence’ indicates that’s its time to rename to #eltachas

Ariella

Did the flight board on time?

A B

Shame on Elal for lying to their passengers. I tried hard till now but I shall never ever fly Elal again..

ybeeds

I hope they compensate the Chabad house. It likely cost them quite a bit.

Costs are covered

HaKadosh Baruch Hu yeshalem scharam… because they are Oskim b’Tzorchei Tzibur. But I’m sure all the costs (plus) will be covered by El Al and donations

Marko

How quick everyone forgets how important it was to have elal to and fro Israel when your alternatives were twa. Needless to say it’s still important to have elal, it’s a privilege to have an Israel national airline!

READ CAREFULY:
Most sad is you don’t read comments of anyone earnestly trying to fix anything all you read is rants and threats and anger from passengers who 9.9 out of 10 probably only had good experiences on elal.

Why don’t we organize a earnest petition to send in to elal with amicable solutions for ALL passengers AND the airline?

Poeple please ditch your false beliefs of entitlement! Your loyal to no one in the airline industry other than your wallet and book wherever the best deal is for cash points and or combo. Be honest with yourselves and if your really bothered with elal about this store then come up with a positive and amicable solution to presen!

H B

el al is always arrogant, especially to religious passengers, praying seating, it is always a hassle, as a relative of mines answers to the question “how was your flight?” to which he answers “the regular el al agmat nefesh (misery)”
more not need be said.

Seth

Nonsense. Those days are long past. Nonstop flights from North America by major airlines are the most successful routes in their networks. Their frequency, geographic distribution, and service level have been increasing with each passing year. I have zero desire to use El Al and will not be heartbroken when it eventually closes up shop.

Of the two round trip flights I’ve taken with El Al I’ve had significant issues with two legs, so my batting average is 50% with them. In all likelihood I won’t use them ever again unless it is required as part of a program.

Sholom

Flew elal 4 times… Had a bad experience with them 4 times…. Twa was bad, but I’m my experience still better…

Gary

Don’t understand why people seem to expect to be mothered by Elal. It’s a business like any other: would United allow you to deplane whenever you feel like it? Or to just let you off in Athens? (!). I think a big part of Elal’s attitude is that whatevwr they do to accommodate religious passengers seems to be taken for granted and more demanded, hence their attitude to religious people. I definitely think Elal would agree with Dan that they dont want religious Jews on board on Thursday night, but since these same religious Jews board anyway and then insisit on being let off in Europe and make a political issue out of it, Elal have to do it but dont expect them to be happy about it. Theyre not your mother’s car service, theyre trying to run a business. Id like to see these same people create a stink on United or Amtrak about sitting next to a woman. People should treat Elal like they would any other airline, and with time Elal will treat them like any other passenger (in other words better).

sal

They’re not legally allowed to fly passengers on Shabbos, has nothing to do with religious passengers demanding it.

Gary

Not sure if you’re serious, but if yes then: the reason Elal isn’t allowed to, even though every other airline flying into Israel is, is because of the big stink that religious political parties made. Elal is a secular organization but is controlled by the Israeli government. If Elal goes away, then people will have to decide for themselves which flights to take on other airlines.

Samuel

Why is Elal secular???

Carl M Sherer

Gary, First, please see the comment above regarding United paying for two nights in a hotel for people who were on their canceled Thursday flight. Second, it was many years ago, but yes, United once allowed me to deplane (on a domestic flight) that was going to arrive after Shabbos started. They told me to go to the next gate and take the next flight, which was going to arrive before Shabbos (okay, this was 1988). And yes, people do have different expectations of El Al, but that’s because El Al claims to be Kosher and Shomer Shabbos. The others don’t, and because of that, people don’t let their guard down and do foolish things like taking a flight that’s going to arrive at 3:00 pm on a Friday in the winter (okay, 002 was scheduled to arrive before Noon, but even that is late when Shabbos is at 4:00).

Sholom

Think… If 50 passengers got up after a long delay and said they needed to get off for religious reasons, NEARLY EVERY OTHER AIRLINE would allow them to deplane, 1. So they don’t have to deal with the pr fallout and 2. So they don’t have to deal with the legal ramifications…
Only elal had this crazy sense of entitlement over religious Jews. I guarantee you if it had been 50 passengers of any other religion elal would have gone back to the gate as quick as they could…

United

My friend was on United that same day and they DID let all religious Jews deplane

Adam

Regardless of these stories ElAl is the worst airline out there. I happily spend an extra
$200, add a layover and take 6 extra hours to fly to israel so long as I avoid using ElAl.

With that in mind all airlines lie and it’s no news, they have flights that are half empty
and the flight is “cancelled” due to technical issues for example.

If you need to get somewhere before friday night and it really is truly important you would
never board a flight with just a few hours of wiggle room. If you are preparing for the most
important meeting of your life that can give you wealth and everything you ever wanted would you take a risk knowing that if you miss your flight you will 100% be late?
If the shabbat is that important to you you won’t risk it, it’s so stupid easy to blame someone else, even if it is their fault you were irresponsible, the fact that there are so many
of the same stories proves that point. Sure on the surface the airline lied and it’s on them but this is between you and what you believe in and you know it does and can happen all the time. So don’t go into hypershock if the airline can not get you there on time and now you are “stuck” somewhere cause you can’t fly for a day. More than one in 10 flights is delayed, you can sob on the reasons or you can be smarter about planning your travels.
You are not entitled to anything more than someone else because of belief.
Yes you are right that Elal does not care about your religious observance and nor should they. They are at the end of the day a for-profit business, if religious folks were not a good
chuck of their revenue they would fly all day everyday, it obviously is which is why they
agree not to fly for a 24 hour period but if you think it’s anything more than your money
they are interested in think again. So save it, they delay their flights and lie like every other
airline out there, I don’t use elal for other reasons (every other airline has superior service to them). This is just a matter of getting your priorities straight.

H B

correct, on your points of priority!

Yehudaleh

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice shame on me. This is not the first time El Al has screwed their religious customers in this manner.

Moe

As soon as the plane lifted into the air in New York, someone should have pretended to be having a heart attack and collapsed in the aisle and not communicated until medical personal took him off the flight.

Faking a heart attack

The good, honest, RELIGIOUS? thing to do

Sholom

Absolutely… If the only way to keep shabbos was that way…

reb yid

After certain write-ups I’ve seen online, EVERYONE will now want to fly ElAl on Friday. They’re talking about the tremendous achdus, what a gevaldige shabbos, etc. Why not, in their opinion, take the flight, and if you get to TLV on time, great, and if not, ElAl will stop on the way for you, put you up in a hotel, and Chabad will rush in to cater your meals?! It would be like saying, sure, I’ll drive from Baltimore to Brooklyn on Friday, and if I make it, fine, and if not, Chabad of Nowheresville will take care of me. What an awful la-di-da devil may care attitude.

Gary

Unfortunately exactly the attitude that has caused this mess. Wont be long before government allows Elal to fly on shabbos. Their pandering policies have caused ill will on both sides and not solved the issue but rather created further moral hazard. Ppl flying internationally ought to be able to behave like grownups and take care of themselves

Been there

Chabad of Nowheresville is actually Chabad of Delaware and they’ve taken in literally hundreds of people who’ve gotten stuck on that exact route over the last 3 decades. It’s time people stop taking Chabad for granted as their traveling safety net…

Carl M Sherer

I sometimes wonder if people would take less risks if they didn’t know they could rely on Chabad. I was in a situation like that back in the 80’s – forced to fly to Florida on Thursday afternoon to a place that had NOTHING back then (Tallahassee). No Chabad. Nothing with a hechsher in the supermarkets. I was the last flight in before they closed the airport for a hurricane. Had a reservation for 9:00 am Friday. At 6:00 am, I got a call that the flight had been canceled. Called my posek, who said I could not spend Shabbos there (nearest Jewish community then was Jacksonville – 180 mile drive if I could have rented a car and if it was driveable). Went to the airport, got lucky and got an empty seat in First Class to Atlanta (where I could at least spend Shabbos if I needed to), got onto the flight I had reserved to Newark and landed at 2:30. 31 years ago this week. Just made it home for Shabbos.

I’m an old man. Don’t have the stomach for that stress anymore.

Shneur

Is it possible to sue the pilot & El Al for kidnapping, after passengers demanded to deplane, and getting assurances that they will be allowed off?

oysher

Anyone who was in New York last Thursday, or has access to a New York newspaper, knows that a sudden snowstorm messed up ALL the roads and delayed ALL takeoffs from JFK and other airports. Trees fell down blocking roads and the GWB was closed for hours. Every intelligent person understands that plans are changed as a result.

Dan Bee

Serious question: why does it violate shabbat to merely be on a plane that took off well before shabbat? I suppose one could argue that your weight adds to fuel consumption, but on a many ton plane, this is so de minimis, it’s the equivalent to your body heat affecting how much heat or a/c your house uses…

Gary

I believe that it’s a question of techum shabbos. Once they land, you’re in a different techum . What’s more, once this happens, you cannot move outside of your 4 cubit area, which means not being allowed to disembark. I believe that rabbis have allowed disembarkation by wheelchair in the event

Holynyc

Elal just doesn’t care about the customers
This Thursday afternoon the elal plane aborted the landing seconds before touching down in JFK and didn’t feel the necessity to notify the passengers on the Mic
And I can tell you the passengers where horrified
They went on to make a hour circle and land in JFK

Emes

1-800-EL-AL-FLIES
Leave off the F for:
Failure
Frei
Fools
Anything else?

Sam

Time for El Al to get a new slogan.
Unless they’re talking about getting kidnapped from your home?

Keren

Dan- So in the end now that the truth is out after I got semi-destroyed on my post. I know that there are intl regulations related to compensation re flight diversions like this. Can you share any info you may have so I can share with others. Thanks in advance.

Freecountry

The pilot BLATANTLY LIED to the passengers, and the #fakenews they are spreading about “chareidim” getting violent tells me it’s time for “chareidim” to stop flying el Al.

H B

Anyone saw the new book “The Empty Wagon”?
It should be renamed “The Empty Airplane”.
It explains very well the dire situation we have come to.

What other airline?

What other airline would have accommodated religious Jewish passengers? Seems some people here would prefer to fly Kuwait Air.

Loves Shabbos

@dan…one mile at a time also posted something regarding this. Please talk to him as he was reporting there was possibly violence.

Dandealsfan1

Then fly another airline. If you don’t like a company you don’t use them. Simple. Your crusade against El Al is pointless and silly. If they aren’t breaking any laws, then who cares. They can do what they want. Just as customers can do what they want to, they can choose another carrier, can fly at different times, or just accept that they lay arrive after shabbos. You don’t like their hard product and have complained and nauseam about their FF program. Enough is enough just drop it already.

Gershon

Hey Dan! I think it’s about time somebody sit down with United/Delta and convince them to offer the optional separate seating. ElAl will lose a GINORMOUS chunk of their customers as I dont see one religious jew not going with the separate option (especially those sending bochurim/sem-girls to Israel). PLUS they’ll finally stop their disgusting anti-chareidi rhetoric as they will learn the hard way that without Chareidim half their business goes down the drain.

H B

well said!

Yossi

I haven’t seen anyone talking about not getting their luggage in Athens. Is that normal procedure? I don’t know how I would’ve managed for over two days without any of my belongings.

H B

me too!

Joshua Hosseinof

An account in Hebrew by a non-shomer shabbat Israeli who was on the flight t agrees with the story that Dan has presented.

http://facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10155698461756541&id=557081540

chff

no she is a Shomer Shabbos “גם אני שומרת שבת”

Q

I would’ve said I have chest pain in jfk it can allways be reflux but elal would have to open the doors to deplane me and aall shomer shabbos passengers

me

1. Though I really appreciate your website you might want to ask your LOR if some of this discussion constitutes loshon hara
2. I once was on a United flight that got cancelled on a Wednesday and the next flight they booked me on was the next Tuesday. They insisted that the only available earlier flight was Saturday. Only after I showed them that there were seats available to buy did they put me on a Sunday flight. They did not compensate me for anything.
3. As mentioned anyone boarding at 8:30 on a stormy night had to realize that it takes time to board, there are tons of backups so waiting on the runway has to happen. And what about when you get to Israel it takes an hour to get through and then you still have to get somewhere. Chances are they will be causing someone to be mechallel shabbos because of them.
4. Having been at jfk that exact time it took over 90 minutes to get a gate for a late but scheduled flight. Who knows how long it would have taken them to get a gate and then they would not have been able to fly out at all?
Bottom line is Elal tries to do its best, fake news is fake news but I don’t know that is Elal’s fault, captain had no choice and wanted to stop a riot and anyone who boarded the flight at 8:30 knew the repercussions and went anyway & should say thank you to Elal for providing them with a nice shabbos when these people were at fault for getting on at 8:30.

SAVE THE CHILLUL HASHEM

WANT TO SEE FAKE NEWS and a CHILLUL HASHEM:

https://onemileatatime.com/el-al-flight-shabbat-violence/

#LIAR

Q

Oh sem ואת עלית better make sure their grpup flight is not on elal

Yochai
H B

The truth shall stand – Kushta Ko’ey
Shaboss is here to stay, el al to go.

bahayman

I had a United flight from SFO-EWR at 1pm this past Thursday. After seeing the 9am and 10am flights get diverted to BOS and ORD, I asked the pilot of the 1pm flight, if we were to take off would we land at EWR or end up getting diverted. He answered that he couldn’t say for certain that we wouldn’t end up getting diverted but what is for certain is that he is not allowed to take off knowing that at the time of take off we wouldn’t make it to EWR since that would be considered kidnapping.

Now I’m not sure that it’s technically kidnapping, but it’s nice to see that UA has some sort of rule about that whereas it seems LY doesn’t.

VaCavalier

Dan, While I respect those who do not travel or work on the Sabbath, I must disagree with you about accommodating those who use religious observance to support policies that violate human rights, including the refusal to sit next to someone of the opposite sex on a plane (the same people who discriminate against women being allowed to pray with men at the Western Wall. Since the great majority of American Jews are either Reform or Conservative, perhaps until the State of Israel recognizes Reform and Conservative Judaism as being valid observances of the Jewish religion, El AL should not fly to the United States.

H B

As a Religious Jew I agree that el al should not fly to the USA, where religious freedom is respected.
On a recent trip to Israel, on the return flight to the USA, i was denied my religious freedoms upon my polite request to sit near a fellow man. They told me they would forcefully eject me [wow] if i did not sit immediately sit down, luckily someone accommodated me.
They lied to me that it was US law [then it surely was not even Israeli law].
I politely asked them if they are still in Israel, and a Israeli flag carrier, why do they have to abide by a so claimed US law?
They did not have a valid answer for me, besides, “if you dont sit down you can fly United”!

H B

The Western Wall is a Holy Site and it must have a Religious setting.

Meir

Why do you consider it violating human rights if someone doesn’t want to sit next to a opposite gender ? It should be vice versa – I would consider violating human rights if an airline does not acomedate someone the seating that he perfers to sit or not to sit – next to a certain gender- that’s Human Rights – have the right to sit where he is most comfortable , for well known reasons…

Tzvi

I believe that most “Orthodox ” Jews would sit next to a person of the opposite sex on a plane.
However the same “Orthodox ” Jews would vehemently demand that “Conservative ” and “Reform” etc. not establish minyonin by the Kotel ; a complete desecration of a a sacred area.

H B

Reb Yom Tov Ehrlich OBM on his tape Emunah says;
el al, and samoel (the angel of evil), have the same numerical value.
על אל = 131
סמאל = 131

ה’ ישמרנו
May G-D watch over us

Donor

Dan @Dan, why not start a GoFundMe for Chabad Athens, post link here. I will surely contribute!

EWZ

Donor, You can donate on their website. https://www.chabad.gr

qsman

OK – I have located the conversations between LY 002 and Kennedy Ground that substantiates the accusation regarding the pilot’s LIE:

11:26PM – LY002 asks Ground if they can hold position on taxiway for “about 2 minutes as they are having some trouble with some passengers” Ground provides permission to “hold short”, i.e. wait at a certain taxiway intersection”

11:27 PM – LY 002 asks Ground for an immediate departure otherwise the passenger disturbance will get worse (I am sure other pilots on frequency unfamiliar with the Shabbos issue are looking at each other wondering why they would take to the air with stated cabin disruption).
11:29 PM – Ground provides taxi instructions to runway 31L and advises departure frequency of 125.7

There you have it folks. If someone knows what time the aircraft ACTUALLY TOOK OFF then I can see if I can backtrack from the “cleared for takeoff” statement to see if anything else was said about it.

sal

Flight took off 11:36, corroborates passengers statements of the LIE!

Bn

Elals mantra says it all
“We are not airline we are Israel”

H B

The Empty Wagon: Zionism’s journey from identity crisis to identity theft Hardcover – 2018
by Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro (Author)

click and paste on your kosher browser.
Read the book, you will then define “The Empty Airplane”!

H B

Dear Dan,
I once again compliment you for exposing the do-ers of evil.
May this be a Merit – Zechus for you.
He who watches Shabbos, Shabbos watches him.

Chaim

There used to be a saying a picture is worth a thousand words. If there is a video of something happening you can’t deny it. I think recent times have proven, and especially on airplanes, if there is no video of it It did NOT happen.
So there is a flight half full of non religious jews all upset at the chareidim, and then the chareidim supposedly started beating up the flight attendants and there is NO video of this!
The only explanation is that it’s full of lies!and this never happened.

Ani Maamin

Now the world sees how right the Satmar Rebbe was about Zionism. When the Jewish world celebrated Begin’s decision to stop ElAl on Shabbos, the Satmar Rebbe (by then the Beirach Moshe) announced that this was nothing to do with respect for the holy Shabbos, but rather the twisting of hands by religious MK’s, and that Begin, the government, and the Likud did not care at all about the holy Shabbos. The world rushed to ostracize Satmar as “fanatics” who did not “appreciate” the decision and were trying to spin it negatively.

Well, fast forward 40 years, and the words of the Rebbe are proven so true, time and time again. ELAL NEVER DID, DOES NOT, & NEVER WILL CARE ABOUT THE HOLY SHABBOS. Would any Chareidi in the USA purchase kosher meat from a jew whose store is open on Shabbos? Definitively not!! So then why are so many American chareidim “Makpid” on flying ElAl? Until today, true Satmarers only fly to Israel (Meron, Simcha’s, Yom Tov etc.) with other airlines. BH there is no dearth of options – Delta, United, and many cheaper stopover options.

As someone with a very prominent Chareidi figure who has flown the NYC-TLV route over 50 times in the last 5 years (NON-ELAL), I can tell you that not once was I told I cannot daven with a minyan on board, not once was my request for a kosher meal ignored, and not once did I see any altercations regarding men/women seating. Why oh why do all these stories happen on ElAl?

Because ElAl is a ZIONIST institution, a money-losing arm of the heretic state in our holy land, which is part of the greater Zionist ideology whose goal is to eradicate our commitment to Sinai and to turn us into a nation among the nations, with no commitment to the Ribbono Shel Olam and his Holy Torah.

#FlyTheFreindlySkies

Sam

+1!!!!!

anonymous

bshitas hatziyoinim ein anu mestatfim ein anu mestatfim uvechulkois haelu ein anu maminim ein anu maminim, bderech hatorah nelech baesh ubmayim bedrech hatorah neilech lekaedesh shem shamayim lekadesh shem shamyaim

heshy

these are the same satmars that dd likes to call out for being difficult with seating next to an opposite gender, hopefully now you will understand and respect them just like you demand respect from elal. sorry for the harsh words i just remember when you wrote that article back in 2016.

Anti Zionist

I 100% agree with you well said

Sick of El Al behavior

Dan, What can we seriously do? Goose Bay was also not their fault it’s somehow never thair fault.

There are two different issues here,
1. The people deciding to take that flight.
2. The way El Al behaves each time.

so for point one, each person should consult his rabbi. But for point 2 it is disgusting how the lied and think everyone is stupid. El Al should have no excuse in the world This Behavior is nonexcusable and El Al should be held accountable. Especially that compensation is something that does not exists by them.

Jake

If Shabbat is important to you depart to TLV no later than Wednesday from North America.

Mimi K.

Chareidim should not fly ElAl.
I flew the day after succos a couple years ago. I mistakenly booked ELAL as it was $200 cheaper per ticket (2)
About 80% of the plane was chareidim.
The crew was so angry before we even boarded.
Halfway through the flight,
I was waiting in line for the restroom.
There were about 7 chareidim and 3 chilonim waiting for one small bathroom.
Men and women in random order.
The head steward came to the back to say “enough of you used it already”
Please sit down until all the chilonim are done.
When i told him I’ll wait my turn and then return to my seat, he threatened to have me arrested for not listening to FAA regulations.
He said the chareidim dont own the bathroom,
So “normal people go first” (his words)

# friends don’t let friends fly ELAL.

I have 3 family members flying to Israel tonight. I convince two of them to pay more and not go ELAL.
And that was before the story

Ed

Interesting fact, the aircraft that landed in Athens was the same one that had a Mayday and land in Goosebay.
Tail number: 4X-ELB

Eran

Disgusting I won’t be flying El-Al again!!!!

lois

I think better attention needs to be taken with the flt that has a medical emergency and ended up going directly to Israel, avoiding a stopover. What is up with that? Usually a medically emergency calls for landing at the closest, appropriate airport. It doesn’t sound like that is what happened.
Perhaps, in some way, one flight did indeed, affect the other?

Joe Lipschitz

https://nypost.com/2018/11/19/violence-erupts-on-delayed-flights-to-israel-over-sabbath-fears/

DAN or anyone send this guy the truth so he can stop spreading lies and tell that lady she should be ashamed of herself

Anti Zionist

Very Simple. lets boycott ElAl the same way we did in march 2007 when the y flew ON shabbos. #BoycottElAl

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