El Al: Haredi men de­layed flight by min­utes, not an hour, for seat switches

Jerusalem Post - - NEWS -

El Al said a flight last month on which Haredi (ul­tra-Or­tho­dox) men re­fused to take their as­signed seats next to women was de­layed for only min­utes by the re­quired switches, not over an hour as was re­ported.

A pas­sen­ger on the June 21 flight said in a Face­book post re­count­ing the in­ci­dent that the flight was de­layed by over an hour due to the in­tran­si­gence of four Haredi men.

“While on the El Al plane, they were deal­ing with mat­ters of prac­ti­cal the­ol­ogy and per­sonal faith ver­sus the rights of the in­di­vid­ual and civil or­der [and] 12 planes from other car­ri­ers jumped the line ahead of Flight 002,” Khen Rotem noted in a Face­book post upon the flight’s ar­rival at John F. Kennedy In­ter­na­tional Air­port in New York.

But an­other pas­sen­ger on the flight, iden­ti­fied as Ka­triel Shem-Tov, said in an email to Is­raeli tele­vi­sion and print jour­nal­ist Si­van Ra­hav Meir that “the whole busi­ness with the Haredim didn’t take more than five min­utes,” and that a 45-minute flight de­lay had been an­nounced be­fore board­ing.

Meir re­counted Wednes­day in a blog post on The Times of Is­rael web­site that she con­tacted El Al to con­firm Shem-Tov’s ver­sion of the story.

El Al re­sponded to Meir: “The de­tails that were re­ported about the in­ci­dent were not ac­cu­rate, to put it mildly. In ac­tual fact, the de­lay was to­tally un­con­nected to the in­ci­dent. The plane’s jour­ney to the run­way at the air­port in New York took about one hour and had noth­ing to do with the in­ci­dent. Tak­ing care of the two pas­sen­gers who re­fused to sit in their al­lo­cated places oc­curred af­ter the plane had al­ready left the gate and only took a few mo­ments. We will con­tinue to do our best to trans­port our cus­tomers safely, com­fort­ably and ac­cord­ing to sched­ule.”

The air­line had re­sponded to Rotem’s orig­i­nal Face­book post.

“We apol­o­gize for any in­con­ve­nience caused,” the air­line said. “Any dis­crim­i­na­tion by pas­sen­gers is ab­so­lutely for­bid­den. El Al flight at­ten­dants do every­thing that they can to pro­vide ser­vice to a wide range of pas­sen­gers and var­i­ous re­quests, and try to as­sist. All of this is done so that take­off is on time and to take the pas­sen­gers to their des­ti­na­tion on sched­ule.”

It did not men­tion the an­nounced 45-minute de­lay.

Meir noted in her post that: “I cer­tainly do not in­tend this post to de­fend those two pas­sen­gers. I do want to en­sure that it will de­fend 8 mil­lion peo­ple from a heated pub­lic de­bate which has no ba­sis in fact.” (JTA)

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