El Al flight 2 from JFK to Tel Aviv last Thursday evening was delayed 75 minutes in part due to 4 charedi men who refused to sit next to women. Eventually a couple of women agreed to move seats so the plane could take off.
Israeli tech company NICE said that they would boycott the airline due to El Al’s policy of asking women to move to accommodate the men. NICE CEO Barak Eilam wrote, “At NICE we don’t do business with companies that discriminate against race, gender or religion. NICE will not fly @EL AL Israel Airlines until they change their practice and actions discriminating women.”
In response to the boycott threat, new El Al CEO Gonen Usishkin told YNet that, “למען הסר ספק הוריתי היום על חידוד הנהלים בנושא ולהבא נוסע שייסרב לשבת ליד נוסע אחר יורד באופן מיידי מהטיסה”
Roughly translated, “For the avoidance of doubt, I ordered today the strengthening of these procedures and from now on, any passenger that refuses to sit next to someone will be immediately ejected from the plane.”
This won’t be the last story like this and I’m not sure what the solution is if people who refuse to sit next to a member of the opposite sex won’t buy an extra seat to ensure that outcome.
El Al is stuck between a rock and a hard place here between trying to satisfy their charedi and chiloni clientele. After all of these incidents, I’m surprised that El Al doesn’t yet have several rows reserved exclusively for men and women that can fluctuate based on demand. I’m sure there would eventually be some smart-alecks who will try to force their way into a row like that, but that would put them into the wrong rather than vice versa.
What other solutions can you think of to solve this recurring problem?