United Strands Passengers In Cleveland Without Kosher Food After Diverting A Dreamliner From Tel Aviv

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Update, 8/2: This story has been picked on the front page of the 8/3 Cleveland Plain Dealer!

Let’s keep it going, do a random act of kindness when you see the opportunity to help someone out! 



I’m overwhelmed with the positive feedback on this story. All I thought about was if my family was diverted to a closed airport, wouldn’t it be nice to have some kosher food to get through the night. Feeling very blessed to have been in the right place and right time to help over 50 people on the flight get kosher food.

Shabbat Shalom to all!

Update, 8/1: UA85 finally made it to Newark at 3:58am, nearly 11 hours behind schedule.

A few hours ago DDF member KSMH posted that United was diverting flight 85 from Tel Aviv to Cleveland due to weather in Newark.


It’s probably the first 787-10 Dreamliner to ever land in Cleveland!

At the time United said that the flight would only be in Cleveland until 7:34pm and that passengers would remain on the airplane.


At 8:20pm United updated the new departure time from Cleveland to Newark to 12:45am and word came out that the passengers would deboard the plane.

I tweeted out asking if any DansDeals readers were on the flight and several people from the flight responded. Some were hungry. Some weren’t able to get in contact with relatives on the plane. Some just wanted to get home already.

I posted on a Cleveland Jewish Facebook group to see if anyone was able to coordinate a response and some people reached to the Cleveland Police Department asking to see how they could get food to the passengers. However the police department said that nobody was in distress, so it would not be possible to bring food past security.

I figured that I’d have better luck at the airport than trying to arrange for permission away from the airport, so I sprung into action. (The same advice applies when your flight is delayed or cancelled, it’s typically easier to fix things and get moved onto another carrier at the airport rather than over the phone.)

I called our local kosher pizza shops to try to order a bunch of pies to bring to the airport, but this is Cleveland and they had already closed for the night.

My wife Mimi suggested that I run to Trader Joe’s, so I hopped in the car and made it there as they were closing their doors at 9pm to pick up several cases of Pas Yisroel french rolls and chocolate babkas. My fellow Chabad of Beachwood council member Dr. Shmulie Margolin called Ohio Kosher and arranged for Cholov Yisroel sliced cheese, cookies, and other snacks. I picked up Shmulie, we scrubbed our council meeting, and drove to the airport.

I called United Global Services for help getting through TSA, but nobody in the Cleveland airport answered the phone, so they said to just ask at the airport for a gate pass.

I tried tweeting United, but didn’t get a response right away.


We got to the airport and they made a PA announcement that TSA would close for the night in just 4 minutes!

I messaged some of the passengers who reached out to me, but they were told if they left security they would not allowed back in again for the night.

Stores in the airport were already closed, so there was no food at all to be purchased.

I ran to the United desk and asked for a gate pass, but the agent said that is against their policy.

I told her that there were dozens of hungry passengers on the diverted flight who only ate kosher food and that I had kosher food for them, but the agent refused to help. Getting worked up I implored her that it was United that diverted these now hungry passengers and that she ought to be helping me, but she threw her hands up and asked me to step away from the counter. I asked for a supervisor but she emphatically said that I could not speak to one.

It’s one of those scenarios that I advise readers to take a video of, but in the heat of the moment it’s all too easy to forget that rule. In the heat of the moment I was just so surprised that the agent was refusing to help get to to United’s own hungry passengers. If you’re ever in a situation with an airline, always remember to start recording first!

Alas there were no more flights going out, so I also couldn’t just buy a refundable ticket to get through security.

I ran back to the closing TSA checkpoint and found a girl from the flight who had left security earlier to meetup with her parents, who live in Cleveland. She had to fly back to Newark and was about to go through security when I asked if she could bring the food with her. With many boxes of food and utensils that would be a tall order, but TSA agent Rob allowed us to bring the boxes and put it directly onto the belt.

The other passengers who had contacted me were waiting for the food on the other side of security and were able to help get the food to the rest of the diverted passengers.

Thankfully we got them some food in the nick of time, kudos to the TSA for helping us get the food through to the passengers and to Dr. Shmulie Margolin and Ohio Kosher for helping with the food.

I feel privileged to have a network where I was able to instantly connect with the affected passengers and am happy that I was able to make their travel slightly less painful. Hopefully they get back home tonight!

I wish that there would be a nonstop flight from Tel Aviv to Cleveland, but I have a feeling that this will be last one for a while 😀


TSA agent Rob was a great help in getting the food through:



Made it to the other side!


Helping get the food from security to the passengers just as TSA was closing:


A scene not seen too often in CLE:


Safe travels to all!

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180 Comments On "United Strands Passengers In Cleveland Without Kosher Food After Diverting A Dreamliner From Tel Aviv"

All opinions expressed below are user generated and the opinions aren’t provided, reviewed or endorsed by any advertiser or DansDeals.

Levi w

Kol hakovod!


Completely awesome!


תזכה למצוות. You did good.


Wow @Dan. Tizku L’Mitzvos. Mi K’amcha Yisrael!!!


Congrats Rob on your early retirement! 😉


Yasher Koach Dan! And to Mrs. Dan for giving you up while you ran to take care of those people.

Chaim L

Dan, May Hashem repay your kindness. You are a tru sample of chessed.


Is this the same United which I booked 2 tickets earlier today?! LOL


Kol Hakavod Dan!


Mi kiamcha yisrael! Mi kiamcha Dan! Stories like this make me feel proud to be a Jew!


What a mensch, Dan!


Mi ke’amcho yisroel! Yishar koach!


Kudos to @Dan for going the extra miles and helping out our brothers


Wow! Wow! Kudos to you for reaching out and being a lifesaver to your brothers whom you don’t even know and probably will never even meet.
Mi k’amcho yisroel!


Mi kiamcha yisroel. Amazing! Tizku limitzvos!


Dan yasher koach!


Dan, You’re a walking kiddush hashem. Thank you




This tears me up. Such a mitzvah!


Wow!אשריך Dan! Your chabad blood for another Yid is once again seen and felt!
כמותך ירבו בישראל!

na nach

“Your chabad blood”
Your JEWISH blood!


Are those different?


!!מי כעמך ישראל
תזכו למצוות.
A true Kiddush Hashem.


Chesed at it’s peak….
Kudos to you for always using your connections to help people.


Wow Dan , you saved the day!! What a beautiful end to this story! You’re amazing


Very impressive, great Kiddush Hashem!
I imagine there wasn’t enough time or any available flights to book yourself a refundable ticket to get a boarding pass that would allow you in to the gate?


They had no money left to provide kosher food after they just sold thousands of direct round trip EWR-TLV tickets for under $700 🙂


are you saying had you not met the girl who had a boarding pass and was allowed to send over stuff you never would have been allowed to get the stuff thru the conveyer belt because united did not want to issue you a gate pass?if you get gatepasses even without flying and you leave near the airport you can take advantage of the lounges whenever you want am i correct?

Lord Dima

Flying the friendly skies!


Kol Hakavod, Dan. This is achdus!


Wow! That’s amazing! You seriously just gave me chizuk! May Hashem see this Achdus and bring Mashiach and make this Tisha Beav a Yom Tov! AMEN!


Mi kiamcha Yisroel.
@Dan, you are a real mentch. Putting this all together for people you (likely) never met before or again after this. Going to the airport without even knowing if you’ll be able to get the food to the passengers.

When I saw your original tweet, I just assumed you would do a write up about it. It didn’t even occur to me that they might be hungry. It takes a special person to do this. And it takes good and special parents to bring up a child who goes through all of the trouble to help a fellow jew.

You should merit to do many more good deeds and you should merit to see the same from your children.


A) classic United and TSA response
B) Kudos to Rob!
C) Super kudos to the Cleveland Jew crew that got the food together and through security.

But I’m just confused about this: how did the girl leave security and get back in? Who told the other passengers they wouldn’t be allowed back in through security? How is it ever possible that while TSA is open you won’t be allowed through security to a flight you’re ticketed on leaving within, what, 6 hours?


I’m not Jewish, nor was I there, but I still want to thank you so much for being there for those in need.

It’s pretty sad that a business their size wouldn’t make the same effort to be so nice, considering all these people were at their mercy.

You’re a good man Dan.


Kol hakovod!! They’re lucky to have had you there!!


Dan, I only have one word for you , “Awesome”. You are truly a special guy. Many blessing to you and yours.


Thank you Dan; good job. I would, however go easy on United and Cleveland Airport workers. Safety should be the primary concern, and you wouldn’t want anyone to ever have second thoughts about a flight diversion because the new airport doesn’t have kosher food available. While they obviously could have been more accommodating, having an international flight unexpectedly arrive at your airport, with customs and other issues presenting, it is clearly a stressful situation.

Charles Kattan

Dan, this is the biggest Kiddush Hashem. Wow!! Wow! Wow! Avraham Avinu level


This is such a great story


Wow. Unbelievable on both fronts. Mi K’Amcha Yisroel – amazing how you championed the passengers like that. Shame on United. I’d say they should save face and offer you a substantial mileage credit… but you have a few million already. lol.

Arye her

@Dan you’re amazing!! Kudos to you




Don’t forget Dan this is “United” LOL


I don’t get it? How long was the diversion already? An extra 2 hours with out food?


Thank you very much
We are all very impressed
A big Kiddush Hashem


What is the most amazing part of the story, is how natural it is, to drop everything and get kosher food to a plane full of stranded Jews coming from tell Aviv!
That’s natural.
Videotaping the UA flight attendant – that’s un-natural.

Good on you. You’ve got your natural tendencies put on right!


These passengers were sure lucky they diverted to Cleveland!


Thanks Dan, what a brave move, this should be posted on all the big Media, how we Jewish people care for each other, at the latest hours!


Beautiful. Such Ahavat Yisrael!!
Hope Rob doesn’t get fired


Good stuff!!!!


That is so nice! Me k’amcha Yisroel


Amazing and inspiring. Kudos to you Dan and Dr. Margolin for demonstrating the Jewish spirit of Kol Yisroel Arayvim ze leze especially as embodied the world over by Chabad.

moshe zurich

dans is the man


Great job Dan!
Did they clear customs in CLE?


Wow – nice one, Dan!

Lord Dima

Kudos where kudos are due. Well done, Dan!

And United… well, that’s United…


Thanks for the great deed!


Did they depart cle yet?


Thank you to Dan and all the good people who went out of their way to provide and bring kosher food to the passengers who would not have had kosher food otherwise…מי כעמך ישראל

Yard sale

Nice. @CBC Chabad can’t be all that bad….


Wow, you’re amazing

Deal Guy

Did they clear customs in CLE, or will they need to do that in EWR?
If in EWR, then their trip may have gotten longer, since I recall that possibly Ewr customs doesn’t open so early. I’ve heard people say that they had to stay on the plane, since customs wasn’t open yet. Not sure though.

Sammy j

Dan, what you did was phenomenal. The kiddush hashem, especially in the summer when everyone is down our backs could not have had better timing. As for United, no suprise there,they treat me and my family like garbage and I am a 1Ker a couple of years now. I didnt know CLE is as bad as the people in EWR. A gate agent recently embarrassed my wife,boarding a flight by herself and our baby. Luckily there were witnesses and we nade a big stink. Duvi Honig got to have a meeting with them to discuss the rising level of anti semitism within their staff. Maybe they should do the same thing in CLE.

Yasher Koach Dan for all you do, for all yidden


Did they have to clear customs/immigration in Cleveland? Or will they tell them that it’s still closed in Newark and make them wait there also?
Just wondering about those formalities.


Dan what a mitzva we should have many more people like you in this world it’s from acts like this that us the chosen nation can pride ourselves


The Verge reported on November 4, 2012, that United had started domestic service with 787’s. The story said, “United has ordered 50 Dreamliners, of which two have been shipped so far; they will initially run on routes that also take in Cleveland, Denver, Los Angeles, Newark, San Francisco, and Washington.” Not being a resident of the Mistake By The Lake, I don’t know if that ever happened.

Deal Guy

Pretty amazing to watch UA91 cut in and land in EWR 2 minutes before UA85 on the same screen.


Just to let you know, we landed in Newark at 3.40am


Didn’t the girl have to go thru customs upon entering the states how did she leave security


Wow, just landed 11 hours late

Deal Guy

This story would’ve been shocking had United stopped ANYONE from providing food to their passengers, when United clearly wasn’t prepared.
But to stop Dan? C’mon United!

We can all love to hate on Elal, but I can guarantee one thing Elal WOULDN’T have done. They wouldn’t have stopped someone from feeding their passengers.

y id

That doesn’t justify flying on Shabbos….


Dan, WOW!

Caren Kutler

What an amazing story. Dr Shmueli Margolin. Always knew you were a special mensch. Kol hakavod. To all involved


Thank you

Meir Weingarten

Kol HaKavod

Flying Jew

Dan most important which credit card did you use to buy the cheese with?

Awesome job….and thank you!

For the next time this happens…I propose we start a fund administered by you so that the cost to feed or care for a stranded yid doesnt fall on you or the local Chabad rabbi.

I will start it with the first $100.



How nice of you to have in mind fellow Jews in time need. Hashem should repay you with all good.
But trying to understand the statement “I implored her that it was United’s fault that diverted these now hungry passengers”
Why is it United’s fault? Don’t they just follow air traffic controls directions to divert when needed?
BTW it seems that more then ever before every other day when there is a rolling thunder they quickly divert and cancel flights (yesterday hundreds of domestic flights were diverted) is it true? Aren’t the aircraft built to be capable of passing a thunderstorm?


U Da Man!


I never comment but I just have to say I was moved to tears at this amazing story. Dan is ממש א צדיק schlepping food at his own expense for people he doesn’t even know. He didn’t even know if he would get it through. Didnt hesitate for what seemed to be a wasted effort. Didn’t give up at each obstacle in his way. A lesson for all of us starting with me.


Why diversion to Cleveland? Why can’t diversions be sent to other local or small regional airports in the region (within reasonable driving distance to the original airport, such as Teterburro, Morristown, even Atlantic City)? Is it because of having a customs and immigrations department and/or an airport with a runway and facilities large enough to handle a large commercial jet?


Sounds like it should be dansdeals.ORG with all the help and knowledge u provide to us all!


You are amazing! תזכו למצוות!


Thank you so much Dan! My son was on that flight and he hadn’t eaten any of the United plane meals, so he was very grateful :). They got into Newark around 4am, having traveled around 24 hours. Side note: since the returning plane was only 1/2 full (as others made alternate arrangements) he walked into first class and took one of those fully reclining seats, and no one said anything to him.


ישר כוח

Great move

Dan I must say, great marketing move on your part!
Where would we be if you didn’t have a blog that needs exposure.


Wow, you are unbelievable. Kol Hakovod.

Gracy Weberman

Great job


Am Israel Chai!!


Your story might have been the dansdeals network, United not caring about their passengers, tsa agent Rob…

Our story is your massive Kiddush Hashem!

Lol Hakovod!


No wonder DDF followers are so loyal 🙂


Love this!


Here is the rest of the hashgocha protis of the story – I am the step-mom who was at the airport last night. We got to the airport at 8:30pm to bring supper and visit with our daughter. She was in huge lines the entire time with customs and security checks. When she finished at about 9:40pm she didn’t know exactly how to find us. She was walking around at 9:45 and “happened” to see the exit and came through to see us. We walked back to security to make sure they would not close and leave her stranded. And that was the point that Dan Eleff and his friend ran in w/ all of the food. We were a bit frustrated waiting so long. But in the end we see that we needed to wait b/c our daughter needed to go through security at 9:55pm to bring in all of the food.


Wow. What you did was unbelievable. You did such a great job of writing it up I could almost feel your neshama getting awakened and revved up to do the mitzvah. Truly inspiring.

On a side note, we are taking a family trip to cleveland in a few weeks, I’m assuming we’ll get the same treatment? 🙂


Any idea why the flight diverted to Cleveland in the first place?

It was raining in NYC, but it wasn’t so bad that it should’ve caused a diversion (did any other flights get diverted?)

But let’s say a diversion was required….. why CLE? As opposed to say…. BDL, PVD, PHL or any of the other dozens of airports closer than CLE where weather was presumably good enough to land?


Whyis it so risky to sit yourself into bussiness class worse case they just send you away ?


Amazing Dan! Mi Keamcha Yisroel!

Why wouldn’t you book a UA ticket for the morning, check in online, and go through security with that?

I guess the same reason why you didn’t record? 😉


Chazak U’Baruch Dan! HUUUUUUGGEE Kiddush Hashem!


Amazing gesture.

I was at cle at ~6 am today and this likely explains why flights were overbooked. I booked a 7.5k award yesterday via turkish and was on the 7:25 to denver and I didnt check in until the last minute hoping to eventually be assigned e+, which I was while picking up breakfast and bagels from bar symon about 30 min before departure time. Then while boarding I was “bumped” to economy and I asked why did they just assign me this 10 minutes ago and it was for a GS but they proactively on the spot emailed me a $150 ec. The lady next to me was a gold and was originally upgraded to J on the 6am den flight and she got at $1000 ec to be 1:25 late but put up with a middle seat. I have 0 status.

Did they offload all the bags to be re-tagged? I wonder how many were flying to cleveland and had the pleasant surprise of not connecting.

What did united offer to the other pax? Marcos pizza?

I wouldn’t question being assigned a different window seat while using miles at a total bargain without your blog. Also free imessage on united now, awesome.

Thanks for doing you. Go Tribe.


What did United offer its passengers food-wise


Wow!! Incredible Kiddush Hashem! Thank you! Especially during the Three weeks when we need to show more Ahavas Yisroel!!!


Now I now why you LIVE in CLEVELAND !!


You are a tzadik. I have no other words to describe you. This was an act of mesiras nefesh.
But I dont understand United, it seems the only reason they diverted to cle, was because its a hub airport for them, and they had some conflict of interest. They could have easily diverted to JFK, and allowed all the ny passengers to disembark and go home. Even though they have no operations in JFK, they could have paid the extra fees associated with parking in another airlines terminal, and bused in their Newark based crew to handle the flight out of JFK. The choice to divert to Cleveland, was all about saving $$, at the expense of the passengers.


Yasher Koach Dan.

Captain Ron

Wonderful story and just shows you the love of Klal Yisrael .Baruch Hashem!

Serious question

If United clearly can’t solve their operational issues as this type of thing keeps happening, why do Orthodox Jews still fly United?


If you’re getting stuck somewhere. Do it near the Dan.

Uncle Neil

Kol Hakavod Dan!


Dan you and your crew are amazing, nice that Rob had the ability to critically think. I still am bothered that the United person was of no help. Are you making a formal complaint?


Kol Hakovod Dan. During the 3 weeks, erev the 9 days, Moshiach is so much closer. What a caring, quick thinking and determined mensch you are. May your entire family always shep such Yiddishe Nachas from you. Your wife must be an eishes chayil. She’s the one behind the scenes.
Mi Kiamcha Yisroel.


Beautiful! Thank you

SoCal Dude

Outstanding effort & good story to publish to show how we can all help each other when in need. Great job!


Your a really special person! I love this story


Kol hakavod!


I read the article in the PD and noted a lot of hateful comments probably written by uneducated individuals who hate the Jewish people. Dan, you are such a mensch! Thank you!

Travel Entuziast

I’m glad I stopped to read this article. I didn’t want to suffer from click bait—had a hard time buying the “stranded” bit, but I’m really cheered to read both about the kindheartedness of the locals and about the (uncommon) common sense of the government. Shame on United for refusing to allow someone else’s help through.

Ann Williams

Dan, I read abut this in today’s Plain Dealer. Thank you from a fellow Clevelander for extending hospitality to travelers in need. I myself do not keep kosher and am not Jewish, but firmly believe that we should all welcome travelers and give them good food that meets their needs.


That’s is actually amazing

Yoav Aburus

This is amazing! Am Yisrael Chai!


Maybe some good can come out of this for the future. Can we A) get volunteers to “adopt” an airport across the country, and B) then put together a directory for kosher travelers with whom to call if you’re stuck in an airport unexpectedly? I volunteer to take JFK, just to start the ball rolling. @Dan who can coordinate this, or has it been done?


any transfer promso to turkish?


@dan, It’s time for all major airlines to hire are you as Jewish liaison, just like hospitals do in regards to Kosher food.

Harry K

With all the negative publicity United will get for their lack of compassion and treating their rules with black or white and then a no, I am sure they will be apologizing soon enough publicly. Can you please post it when they do and if they are a silent please post that too?
Thanks again for all your great work.

Shimmy shimmy ... Puff

Mi kAmcha Yisroel, Goy Echad bAretz!


I learned my lesson on 9/11 on my way back from China
We had to land in Vancouver then we got bused to Seattle with no flights operating and only a few days to rosh hashanah we started driving to n.y. most of the food we bought in Seattle we forgot on the store counter
Due to rush when we stopped for shabbos some
19 hours later we realized our problem
So I learned always to have extra food in my hand luggage which I don’t touch until I get back home


Pretty awesome. Good work Dan!


Amazing brain, Dan! Had watery eyes while reading this saga…so amazing! My dad always said, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way,” but with all the red tape nowadays, it is truly amazing that you and your partners managed this feat! Beautiful.

Ellen Cohen

Revision: What a brain, Dan, to spark the thought to act; what a HEART, Dan, to instinctively feel the need to act upon the thought! ;D You are an amazing person.


Wow!!! You are absolutely amazing. Thank you!