Accounts differ as to what caused the delayed takeoff of an El Al flight to Israel last Thursday night – which would result in their arriving at Ben Gurion airport after the onset of Shabbos – and whether the flight captain willfully deceived passengers into believing they would be given the opportunity to leave the plane before takeoff. The bottom line, though, was that passengers concerned about not traveling on Shabbos ended up stuck in Athens, Greece.

There is talk of the passengers filing a lawsuit, and the facts will most certainly be ferreted out at that point if that occurs. But one thing is already clear. For an airline that has long depended on the patronage of observant Jews, who famously time their flight bookings based on the onset of Shabbos and yamim tovim, El Al certainly seemed woefully unprepared for last week’s incident.

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Some policy or protocol should have kicked in to remind personnel of a possible problem given the inclement weather. If nothing is in place, something should be promulgated forthwith. Of course, if deception was involved, additional action is required.

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