Passengers from nightmare EL AL flight demand NIS 9 million

Flight 002 from New York to Tel Aviv last Thursday was severely delayed. A series of events unfolded in which religious passengers were upset due to the actions and attitudes of the flight staff.

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November 22, 2018 01:09
2 minute read.
Passengers from nightmare EL AL flight demand NIS 9 million

File photo of an EL AL Boeing 777 aircraft at Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv, Israel July 14, 2015. REUTERS/Nir Elias/File Photo. (photo credit: REUTERS/NIR ELIAS)

Some 180 passengers on the nightmare El Al flight from New York to Tel Aviv last week have demanded monetary compensation from the company and an apology, claiming that the airlines lied and that passengers suffered monetary loss and distress on the flight.

On Tuesday, Attorneys Tamar Falk and Amit Hadad sent a letter to El Al on behalf of the 180 religious passengers aboard, demanding a public statement that none of the passengers had been violent, as El Al initially claimed, and that the company return the passengers’ money and provide damages for the sum of NIS 50,000 per person.

Flight 002 from New York to Tel Aviv last Thursday was severely delayed. A series of events unfolded in which religious passengers were upset due to the actions and attitudes of the flight staff and crew.

The delays led religious passengers to request they be allowed to get off the plane, so as to not violate Shabbat. The flight would not arrive in Israel before the Sabbath began.

The plane eventually diverted to Athens. Religious passengers were allowed to get off before Shabbat began, while non-religious passengers were taken to Israel via Israir Airlines.

Following the flight, El Al issued a statement alleging that “a group of haredim” requested to get off the plane and “exercised heavy and violent pressure against the cabin crew” in seeking to disembark.

A number of non-religious passengers posted on their Facebook pages denouncing the behavior of the religious passengers and even alleging that there had been violent acts, although it is unclear whether they witnessed physical violence.

Several videos taken aboard the plane have surfaced but none demonstrate any violence from passengers, although some show loud and vehement remonstrations with the cabin crew.

On Wednesday, Israel Hayom reported that El AL CEO Gonen Ussishkin had spoken with a “senior rabbinic figure” who had been aboard the flight and admitted that there had not been any violence on board. Ussishkin told the rabbi, “I never said that haredim attacked or went wild on the flight. There wasn’t any physical violence.”

One rabbi aboard the plane was Rabbi Shalom Ber Sorotzkin, head of the Ateres Shlomo Yeshiva in Jerusalem.

According to the letter to El Al, Sorotzkin was told by the flight crew before takeoff that the plane would be taking a quicker flight path to Israel and would therefore arrive before Shabbat.

Sorotzkin then relayed the message to the worried religious passengers and asked them to sit down so the plane could take off.

Only several hours into the flight were they informed that it would be impossible to arrive before Shabbat, and were briefed that religious passengers would be dropped off in Athens.

A spokesman for El Al said the company would not comment any further on the matter until a committee of inquiry was established and issued a report.


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