Haredim refusing to sit mixed on airplanes

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    Avram in MD

    I did not witness the story lesschumras mentioned, nor could I read the article he cited, so I cannot really comment on that incident specifically. Perhaps the requesting passengers were rude and unyielding. Perhaps the person(s) requested to change seats were rude and unyielding. Perhaps the flight attendants were rude and overreacted. Maybe everyone was rude and in the wrong. Maybe it was all a misunderstanding. I don’t know, and neither does anyone else in this thread. Therefore, my comments aren’t intended to address the specific incident on the Delta flight, but rather the more general discussion of the propriety of requesting seat changes due to gender.


    If it really is a religious requirement not to sit by a woman, buy yourself an extra ticket.

    I think this statement is a red herring. Even if it’s not a religious requirement, it’s a legitimate sensitivity nonetheless. Do you object to a person asking to switch seats because of a sensitivity? Would you oppose a woman who is sensitive to certain scents asking to switch seats on a plane because the woman next to her is wearing perfume? She knew before buying the ticket that many women wear perfume. Perhaps she should have bought out an entire row? What about a woman sitting next to a man who makes her uneasy, even though he has not done anything wrong?


    here’s a big difference between a preference and a demand.

    There’s also a big difference between demanding someone give up their seat for you and requesting to deplane because you feel a situation is unacceptable. You are equating the two.


    I agree that they should not be judged negatively that they don’t want to sit next to a woman, but rather that they did not realize this may come up and buy a second seat for this purpose

    Your statement assumes that making seat changes is generally not a viable option. If the passenger boarded with the thought (e.g., based on previous experience) that s/he could make a seat change if the arrangements were uncomfortable to her/him, would you really hold her/him responsible for not thinking to purchase a second seat?

    Syag Lchochma,

    And it doesn’t change the point that you can’t get on a plane and expect that your religious beliefs should be accommodated through possibly inconveniencing others.

    I have seen non-Jews request seating changes on flights for all sorts of reasons, important and trivial. Would you tell them all to just deal with it because it may possibly inconvenience another passenger?

    Avram in MD

    I also find it interesting that many here are automatically assuming that those requesting seat changes are men.


    Gavra. You’re assuming that we had that kind of cash to offer someone just to switch seats. Actually, we did not even ask in a way that implied I was uncomfortable with sitting next to him. We were actually travelling with our daughter who was then an infant and had booked the bassinet seat. The bassinet went over the two end seats- mine and the secular guy’s. We offered him to switch with my husband so that my husband and I would have the bassinet in front of us and it wouldn’t block him. Then my husband would take my seat and I would sit in the aisle. He refused because we were obviously chareidi and then spent the whole flight purposely making me uncomfortable.

    Would you tell someone you are ‘fine’ sitting with an open bassinet in front of your legs, giving yourself less legroom, just to spite an obviously chareidi couple, when they offered to switch places with you? Who is causing the issue here, I wonder?


    Avram – to answer generally (don’t have patience for the line by line, sorry) I think you bring good points but I still don’t agree. If I sit next to someone with strong perfume I may request a change but with two differences: because it is not a religious issue I would take no for an answer. Preference is more flexible than halacha. Also, if I had a serious sensitivity to strong perfume, I would not consider getting on a plane and hoping for the best. Or asking someone else to move if they don’t want to. I would consider it my obligation to make sure I accommodate my own needs.


    Syag, do you think schools should accommodate children who are allergic to nuts by enforcing a nut-free policy, or should the kids (or parents) accommodate their own needs?


    I was once on a flight where there was a person with a nut allergy. He purchased one seat, just like everybody else. The stewardess went around and let everyone in his vicinity know that they will not be getting peanuts, and will not be permitted to eat any nut product in flight. People who had a problem with this could request a seat change. The airline did not require him to pay any extra money beyond the cost of a regular seat. Maybe they saved enough from not having to serve 15 people peanuts :).


    ooo, that is so not okay


    why can’t a man sit next to a woman? is there really a halacha like that?


    Nut free schools are also not okay?


    Gamanit, did Haaretz do an article on it?


    From what I’ve been told and observed, a handful of chareidim requesting a seat usually can be accommodated. Seat changes become an issue when there are 10 to 25 people requesting a seat change. Even if I you could somehow find 25 people willing to change, the flight will be delayed.


    why am I being ignored?


    Because your post is uninteresting.


    Also because your point was addressed earlier in the thread.


    I have seen, on more than one occasion, a Chareidi switch seats with someone (very amicably) to avoid sitting next to a woman and then forget to switch meals so they get the non-Mehadrin one by accident. Oops…



    All in all, I’d much sooner eat the non-mehadrin meal.


    What are the non mehadrin meals on Delta?


    also, regarding whoever commented about it being unfair to be asked to switch out of an aisle seat, a simple solution is that people in aisle seats swap rows. if one row is MFM, and the one behind is MMF, and the M at the end of row 1 is bothered, just switch with the woman behind him, and all is good again


    Didn’t you see it all over the news? It’s an every day thing. Almost every flight will have one person with an allergy. People don’t like to face it, but honestly the world is becoming more hostile towards religion.


    The Chareidi man ask, and the woman may refuse and if she does so that should be the end of it, the man will survive.


    Call me either a heretic or a plain hypocrite, but for some reason I don’t mind sitting next to a Gentile male goy, only Jewish. Maybe it’s because goyim to me aren’t that important. The law might be stricter for a Jewish male re sitting next to any woman.

    Of course, I prefer to sit next to a woman, and am usually relieved when this happens.


    “pay an extra $1200 (every time you fly)”

    If it is actually asur, you would pay an extra $12,000 every time you fly and you would not object to it, because we rejoice at fulfilling mitzvot regardless of the cost.

    “Do you object to a person asking to switch seats because of a sensitivity?”

    No, but I would object to a person delaying a flight for 45 minutes when he/she doesn’t get his/her way.


    You could do online check-in to choose a seat. So why doesn’t El Al just have a section where you select your gender, and then people will know if they want to sit next to them.

    And it’s not because they’re anti-religious, because it’s in their best interest. These things happen every day, the stewards are almost undoubtedly tired of the whole thing, their planes become delayed (whatever), and it’s not such a hard thing to do. definitely a lot easier than havingkosher meals.


    Charlie, if people had to pay $12,000 to fly, most wouldn’t fly. This might not bother you, but it bothers them, and it bothers the airline.

    It’s worth noting that even buying an extra seat or buying a seat in a more expensive class does not guarantee not sitting next to a woman. Airlines overbook all the time, and reassign seats or bump passengers. I would assume that the first “passenger” to be bumped would be an empty seat.

    As far as your comment that you would “would object to a person delaying a flight for 45 minutes when he/she doesn’t get his/her way”, your condescending attitude towards those with different religious standards than your own notwithstanding, this is not a childish tantrum we are talking about, these are legitimate religious sensitivities we’re dealing with. You have every right to disagree with them, but you shouldn’t be so intolerant.

    Also, to reiterate, some are denying that the delay was related to mixed seating altogether, but even according to the original story, the delay wasn’t from the passengers making a fuss, it was in getting their luggage off of the plane.


    Just to add some food for thought here. I have never had a problem switching seats with a non-jew, only secular Israelis. So let me repeat – who is really causing the fuss?

    aspiring rabbi

    I don’t know if the chumra is worth the chillul hashem. I was on a plane where they asked everyone to sit quickly, as ben gurion was about to close a runway. A member of a certain chasidus refused to sit thereby delaying the flight until the runway was reopened 45 minutes later. Everyone on the flight missed mincha in shul when we landed as a result of this. Also, I was speaking to the flight attendants on that flight and they had quite an unfavorable impression of religious Jews. Chumros are nice but seichel must be applied to ascertain the correct time and place.


    If you are asking , you are causing the fuss. When I fly I take whatever seat I get and dont complain even if its the middle seat or worse a middle seat in a row of 5 (UGH)


    Avram, notasheep: I have no problem with someone asking to switch seats. I don’t sneer at anyone for it. Avram, you mentioned asking to deplane. If a chareidi wants to get off the plane because (s)he will have to sit next to the opposite gender, that’s fine. My issue is when planes are delayed because either they wait until the last second to decide to leave, or when they refuse to sit down, but want to stay on the plane. Either case causes other people to look at them in a bad light, and causes a chillul Hashem.

    You want to leave the plane if you can’t get a seat you find acceptable? Fine, but get there early enough so you don’t cause a delay. I have absolutely no problem with that.

    As for spending extra money for a seat (as DaasYochid posted about): so it costs a lot. So what? How much is halachah worth? We spend thousands of dollars extra every year to ensure we eat only glatt kosher meat, many people spend extra to eat/drink only chalav Yisrael. For Pesach, how much is spent on cleaning help to ensure that we go beyond the requirements of cleaning for Pesach? How much do we spend on the extra-mehudar hand made matzos when machine shmurah matzah can be just as acceptable? The fact is that we spend tens of thousands of dollars every year on things that are really chumros, but are important to us. Why should this be any different?


    The bottom line is that there’s no reason not to politely ask if someone can trade seats with you. Regardless why you ask. You want an aisle seat. You need to be closer to the bathroom. You and your spouse or children were assigned seats apart from each other. Or because of religious sensitivities. And if anyone doesn’t like that, well, that’s no one else’s problem.

    It’s telling that most of the folks opposed to religious accommodation have no objection to a polite seat change request for a non-religious need or preference.

    Again, these requests are being made politely. And no one is being coerced to agree to change.


    You can and should ask politely, but if the person says No, dont call them a Secular Frum hating anti-semite. If someone asks for a favor and the person being asks says no, It is rude to be resentful of their answer


    Avram in MD – I already answered your point. See my earlier post with Lulav.

    notasheep – so the other person had an aisle, you had a middle, and expected him to switch for nothing? Don’t you know that people often pay for an aisle or better seat? (and certainly in the first row, where there is more leg room). If you really cared, then you would have come to some mutual agreement, probably involving getting him another aisle or compensation. The problem was that you expected something for nothing.

    Truthfully, who cares who is “causing” the issue. He had something you wanted, you should have offered him something in return if you really cared. Perhaps it was your “Magiah li” attitude (I wasn’t there, so I don’t know) which caused him to act as such. Maybe it was a crying baby, or a baby in the way of his expected leg room. Maybe he broke up with his girlfriend. Maybe he wanted to be Over the Issur of Histaklus with you. Who knows. End story, you obviously didn’t really care, because otherwise you would have done something about it.


    You want to leave the plane if you can’t get a seat you find acceptable? Fine, but get there early enough so you don’t cause a delay. I have absolutely no problem with that.

    It seems to me (based on the article I read) that even according to the version which doesn’t claim the airline was scapegoating the chareidi passengers, the delay wasn’t the passengers request, it was the airline’s getting their luggage off.

    Why should this be different?

    Because now you’re asking someone else to pay. Also, it’s not a question of paying more for a chumrah; they got off the plane.


    (I wasn’t there, so I don’t know)

    That pretty much negates the rest of your post.


    We wouldn’t have been switching for nothing. Like I said, he could have had the seat that wasn’t being blocked by the bassinet. And he purposely positioned himself to make me more uncomfortable. You say I can’t have cared that much or I would have done something. I did do something. I remained dignified and mostly put up with it, because that’s my nature. I also used the armrest flap that hides the tray table (since this was the bassinet seat) as a way of making sure his arm stayed in his own seat.


    And like I said it was the central area, with four seats- two aisle and two middle. He had nothing to lose either by changing.


    I did do something. I remained dignified and mostly put up with it, because that’s my nature.

    Good for you. Now if only everyone else was as mature….the world would be a much better place (virtual pat on head).

    That being said, you didn’t care enough to pay money for him to switch.

    Also you do not hold it is Assur. I imagine you would have made a much bigger fuss has you believed it was Yehareg V’al Yaavor (granted that term is thrown around a dime per dozen these days, but still).


    If it means so much to you not to sit next to the opposite gender then offer the person $50 to switch their seat im sure anyone would oblige for that end of plane crisis!


    Like I said earlier, who said we had such cash on us? And due to the davkanik nature of some chilonumbers (especially this one) I doubt they would have switched seats for money.


    How do you know this “Charedi hating” Chiloni would not have switched for money, Almost everyone would if you paid them enough.

    You want a favor from someone who wont give it to you and then you call them an Charedi hating Chiloni.


    Like I said earlier, who said we had such cash on us?

    I know this is a total side point, but when traveling (and certainly to a different country), it is an absolute necessity to carry actual currency on you (USD will do in most). You never know when you may need it.

    Avram in MD


    You can and should ask politely, but if the person says No, dont call them a Secular Frum hating anti-semite.

    You want a favor from someone who wont give it to you and then you call them an Charedi hating Chiloni.

    If you read notasheep’s story, she didn’t consider the man to be anti-Chareidi simply because he said no to her request, but rather because of his subsequent contemptuous attitude and passive aggressive behaviors towards her.

    I don’t see any evidence that the Chareidim mentioned by the OP or notasheep acted rudely towards anyone.


    Thank you avram for your validation. I am so tired of people making assumptions about me. I am laying a few things to rest and then leaving this thread.

    I do not carry USD on me since I am not American. It seems to me that Americans think their currency is universal. Additionally, we tend not to carry large amounts of English currency when we travel, only the currency of the place we are travelling to.

    Secondly, just because I live in Gateshead does not make me a closed-minded chareidi. I grew up more modern than I currently am and do not have any of these chumros that MO seem to disdain. I simply feel uncomfortable sitting in close proximity, in a confined space, next to a male who is not my husband, brother or father since it makes it difficult to avoid nogeia and I am by nature fairly sensitive.


    Bkitzur, don’t be machmir on everyone else’s cheshbon.(real aveiros is a different story.) Politely requesting is 100% fine.

    Was once on a flight and people asked me to switch. Got stuck next to a guy from my yeshiva (which interferes with movie watching a tad) and his three kids.

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