BOYCOTT OVER? El Al to Compensate All 400 Passengers on ‘Shabbos Flight’; Reiterates it “Did NOT Blame Chareidim”



El Al Airlines said Monday it will compensate all of the passengers on a recent Thursday night flight from New York who were stranded in Athens for Shabbos, after a delay of more than 5 hours in JFK made it impossible to reach Tel Aviv before Shabbos began.

Israel’s national airline said it will give a round-trip ticket to any destination in Europe to each of the 400 passengers on the now infamous flight “Shabbos Flight”, which dominated headlines earlier this month due to “Fake News” reports that the situation was caused by “violence” from Chareidi passengers towards the cabin crew.

El Al initially accused the Chareidi passengers of physically and verbally assaulting the crew, but then appeared to walk back the claims following vehement denials and threats of a boycott from the Chareidi community.

In reality, the flight was delayed due to bad weather as well as members of the flight crew arriving late, and took off already scheduled to land in Tel Aviv on Shabbos, which is forbidden under El Al’s company guidelines.

Dozens of passengers had demanded that the plane return to the gate so that they could disembark, but instead the plane took off. The plane was eventually diverted to Athens, where it landed before the start of Shabbos. Passengers spent the weekend in Greece before another flight brought them to Israel on Sunday.

[IN HER OWN WORDS: Passenger Says EL AL Pilot LIED to Everyone “WE WERE HELD HOSTAGE” — Listen To AUDIO of Lying Pilot Talk To Air Traffic Control]

In a statement Monday, the airline stressed that it does “not put the blame on the secular, religious, or ultra-Orthodox (Chareidi) public in the reported incidents.”

The statement added that the airline “appreciates the air and ground crew members who operated on this flight in an admirable manner”.

Rav Shalom Ber Sorotzkin seen boarding an El AL flight on Monday, one day after he announced he a boycott of the airline

On Sunday, Rav Sholom Ber Sorotzkin, a passenger on the flight, cut his “Matmid” frequent flyer card in front of reporters, and announced he was carrying out his promise to boycott the airline.

He also stated he has compiled a list of some 180 people who will no longer fly El Al due to their refusal to apologize.

Based on the attached photo showing Rav Sorotzkin boarding an El Al flight from Tel Aviv to NYC on Monday, it appears the boycott was short-lived.

As reported by YWN, “Rav Sorotzkin has been flying El Al to the US and other countries on the average of once every other week (at the very minimum) for the past 13 years. He sometimes flies once a week due to his need to fundraise to the tune of millions of dollars to fund his massive network of Yeshivos and Kollelim.”

Last Wednesday, a $2.5 million lawsuit was filed against the airline.

The Vaad Shmiras Shabbos was also involved, stating it was going to probe the matter and it might recommend sanctions if it feels El Al acted in bad faith and was Mechalel Shabbos.

It is reported that the Chareidi community comprises a major percentage of the airline’s passengers, approximately 20%. According to Chadashot News, the Chareidim comprise 30% of all passengers on certain lines, like Tel Aviv to NYC.

As YWN reported in 2007, the Chareidi community around the world boycotted El Al after the airline was Michallel Shabbos. Gedolim around the world signed a Kol Koreh and thousands cancelled their tickets. The boycott costed the company about a million shekels a day, according to industry observers. The boycott was lifted after they promised never to fly on Shabbos again.

Readers might recall, in July 2018, YWN reported on El Al allowing media reports to scapegoat delays on a flight from JFK to Ben-Gurion on Chareidi passengers refusing to be seated next to a woman.

Only later did El Al issue a statement reading: “The details reported on the subject were inaccurate to say the least. In reality, the delay was not related to the event that was publicized. There was a delay in the move of the plane to the takeoff runway of an hour without any connection to the incident,” referring to earlier reports that chareidi passengers caused the delay after insisting on moving seats away from a woman.

(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)


  1. It was one or 2 anti – religious reporters on the flight who mischaracterized the Chareidim on board, then spread it to the leftist TV media… El Al had nothing to do with it..

  2. the lawyers probably have to work out the working of an apology to make sure there is no admission of liability that can be held against them in a lawsuit.

  3. a mamin, they will not apologize for something they DID NOT DO. It is not El Al’s fault that Israeli News Media lie and photoshopped that video they sent out causing the Fake News. El Al had no part of that video nor did El Al have any part of the fake news that was sent out. Now, let’s talk about whose fault it truly is that these Frum Jews did not make it to Sabbath on time. the Frum Jews booked this flight way to close to the Sabbath in the first place. The Frum Jews knew exactly what the weather was like when they came to that airport. Frum Jews knew after waiting on a delayed plane DUE TO THE SNOW AND ICY CONDITIONS that this plane had been delayed too long and would compromise their arriving in Israel before the Sabbath. The Frum Jews had the choice to not board that aircraft. NO PILOT would ever tell anyone that he knew he could make it on time because NO PILOT can ever be assured there will be no problems when flying an aircraft that distance. So I believe El Al when they said they did not promise anything to these Frum Jews except that they would TRY to land that plane before Sabbath. Those Frum Jews had the choice to NOT BOARD that aircraft knowing it was delayed and would not make the Sabbath deadline landing in Israel. SO TO STATE THE TRUTH OF THIS EVENT….. IT WAS THE FRUM JEWS WHO WERE IN THE WRONG FOR SCHEDULING A FLIGHT SO CLOSE TO THE SABBATH AND KNOWING THE WEATHER CONDITIONS HAD CAUSED A DELAY THAT WOULD DESECRATE THE SABBATH IF THEY CONTINUED ON THIS FLIGHT. IT WAS THE FRUM JEWS WHO WERE IN THE WRONG NOT EL AL. It is not the Airlines responsibility to make sure Frum Jews keep the Sabbath… it is the Frum Jews responsibility to discern the events and make the right choices in order to keep their Sabbath Holy. That is NOT the Airlines responsibility.

  4. 1. Maybe I’m reading it incorrectly, perhaps someone can help clarify. The compensation is a free RT ticket to Europe on ElAl. So if one lives in the United States, he/she would have to fly to Tel Aviv to make a connecting flight to Europe for a European vacation (ElAl from EWR and JFK only flies to TLV)?

  5. 1) Do passengers on the other flight LY008 also receive this compensation.
    2) As for this clown asking a young fellow to rip his Matmid card:- We all know that as long as the info. is on the computer, absence of a card means nothing, and his mileage is as good as ever.
    3) The 3 stewardess’s who arrived late, actually were delayed because of the snowy weather, so stop blaming these 3 stewardess’s.

  6. Kelilah,

    Calm down!

    I don’t understand something, when the frum Jews wanted to get off the plane the pilot should have let them off, they are being imprisoned against their will

    If they would have caused a scene like all the people that got kicked off of flights it would have made them happy

  7. I don’t get it…with all due respect ( which is pretty hard for me to feel at the moment) of Rabbi Sorotzkin, but how could he declare a boycott I’d he knew he’ll travel the next day?!

    El Al did not issue an apology so how could he retract his boycott when he made a big tzimmes in front of the media?!

  8. Coffee addict.
    I am sure that by entering a travel contract with an airline (by buying a ticket) you are agreeing to be led by the pilot as totally in charge. Otherwise every time the door closes you are being imprisoned. It is quite normal for pilots to refuse to open the doors. The people at fault here are those who got on to the plane after 830 knowing it could not take off till well after 9 at the earliest. That was almost three hours late. What happened after that is not El Als fault.

  9. Dear Philosopher….
    Sad to say, you’ve been had.
    Be suspect of anybody who expresses over- the- top extreme indignation to segue from anther issue.

  10. ZionGate and Kelilah, I’m really confused. It’s true that El Al did not create the fake news, but they sure went along with it, publicizing a letter that they will charge those who disturbed to the extent of the law (presumably in order to deflect blame from themselves).
    Secondly, they have plenty to apologize for. How come all of the passengers were able to come on time despite the storm and only the flight crew couldn’t make it? How come the pilot knowingly lied to the passengers telling them to be seated and he’ll take them back to the gate to disembark (he got permission to do this!) and then proceeded to take off? And before that used (abused) Rabbi Sorotzkin with a lie that they’d arrive in Israel on time before Shabbos? And then they ordered too few rooms in Athens counting only those who ordered Badatz as shomrei Shabbos?! The fact the frum Jews chose to travel on Thursday evening with a short 4-5 hour leeway to Shabbos doesn’t exonerate El Al from their irresponsible and dishonest behavior after which they had the gall to go along with the blame-the-chareidim story by threatening to sue.

  11. Ladler,
    Who says they went along with the story?
    I think we’ll know the full story soon about the pilot & your other questions, which are assumptions which we don’t know are true for a fact..
    I’m not totally exonerating EL AL, but all of your q’s would be irrelevant if they hadn’t boarded the plane, right?
    My problem is more about frum Jews taking risks for Shabbos with families in front of the whole world and not acknowledging it … Then rabbi making a hulabaloo to deflect it… Blame El Al tomorrow… Today ask why these people boarded a delayed flight..

  12. Isn’t this the same Rov that was seen in the viral video, when he asked Rav Shteinman if he should allow a certain boy into his yeshiva. He was surprised when Rav Shteinman said “Of Course Let The Boy In”. And then this Rav didn’t initially accept the psak and kept hocking Rav Shteinman to change his mind!

  13. ladler, I have flown many years of my life. In America there are very few flights that leave or arrive on time. That is just a fact of life, especially in busy airports. It is not the airlines responsibility to make sure you arrive on time. They have the responsibility of making sure you are safe in your flight. My brother and my beloved are both pilots, I have flown myself. There is no way to know what one will encounter on a flight or how much an event will delay your arrival. A simple storm where you have to fly above the clouds can delay your flight. IF a Frum Jew truly wants to make sure he is going to arrive on time in Israel BEFORE the Sabbath, he should NOT fly on the Sabbath. It is that simple. Blaming the airline, blaming the pilots, wanting the pilots fired is insanity and so wrong. It is the Frum Jews responsibility to make the right decisions not the pilots when it comes to keeping the Sabbath.

  14. To Kelilah,
    “Frum Jews knew after waiting on a delayed plane DUE TO THE SNOW AND ICY CONDITIONS that this plane had been delayed too long and would compromise their arriving in Israel before the Sabbath.”
    These are your own words, they are waiting on the plane that got delayed and of course it is getting even more delayed.
    Why are you saying “Don’t Board”. They are already sitting on the plane.
    They boarded that flight early. The problem was that the pilot did not take off right away.

  15. ZionGate – El Al issued a statement that those who had engaged in violence on the flight would be identified and persecuted to the full extent of the law. While that is not the same as stating that “there was violence by Chareidim on the flight”, it sure implies that they agree that there was such violence. And the story of the pilot’s announcement that they’d be heading back to the gate was widely reported with quotes from several individuals who were on the plane, with no denials from anyone that such an announcement was made – so that seems pretty accurate. So El Al clearly has fault here, even if not complete fault.

    As to “taking a risk for Shabbos” – delays almost always take place prior to take-off, not once the plane is in the air – so if people are being told that the flight will “definitely” take off at a time that would get it into Israel three hours before Shabbos, it’s not unreasonable for someone to take it. I acknowledge that it may not be optimal, and those who have other options should take them, but you (and I) don’t know enough about the circumstances of the flight to judge those who thought it would be fine – especially when they’re on an airline that has a strict policy not to fly on Shabbos. In the past, I’ve taken this flight, and even with occasional delays, I’ve never had an issue making it home for Shabbos.

    I am not trying to say that the passengers in general or R’ Sorotzkin in particular are without blame, but El Al does not have clean hands here either. They owe the passengers an apology both for what the pilot did and for the way they joined the piling on with respect to alleged Chareidi “violence”.

    an Israeli Yid

  16. The original schedule was to land in Israel 11:50 am. I’m sorry but that’s waay too late especially in the winter with early sunset and real weather issues. Frum jews including this rabbi should never have booked that flight irrespective of what happened at the the airport.

  17. Apart from all the justified criticism on the pilot and cabin crew even if it was wrong for Shomrei Shabbos to board the plane there is another even more important issue here: The plane was flown from Athen to Tel Aviv (with no passengers) on Shabbos! Chillul Shabbos at its worst!
    Every reason to boycott ELAL!

  18. Coffee addict – it was both. They boarded about two hours late, which would have still gotten them to Israel well before Shabbos, but with less margin than anticipated. They were then stuck on the plane for another couple of hours, which is why they couldn’t make it to Israel.

    an Israeli Yid

  19. ☕️coffee addict November 26, 2018 6:42 pm at 6:42 pm
    I don’t think they boarded late I thought they were in the plane for a few hours
    I could be wrong though