El Al is taking a step towards attracting chareidi travelers and hopes to launch its first mehadrin flight in Nissan. A mehadrin flight would be staffed by male cabin personnel, would not air movies and take other measures towards accommodating the religious sensibilities of chareidi travelers.
Rabbonim affiliated with the Vaad L’maan Shabbos during recent months have met with El Al Chairman Chaim Romano towards closing the deal, a process that has been ongoing for some two years. It is especially important to rabbonim during the month of Nissan for example, when many bochrim and seminary students are flying to N. America and then back to yeshiva. Other special accommodations would permit bringing boxes of matzah on board instead of passengers being compelled to check them in with luggage. The move is due to many complaints received that matzos for Pessach, which are quite expensive, generally do not emerge from the baggage compartment whole. All the food on such a flight would be glatt.
As the new service moves closer to becoming a reality, El Al representatives will meet with chareidi travel agents to explain the new service in detail. It is estimated that some 20,000 chareidi yeshiva bochrim will travel back and forth during Nissan. The El Al management explained to the Vaad that the airline is going to work to accommodate this sector, adding those who have already purchased regular tickets in advance will be permitted to make an exchange for a chareidi flight.
El Al is also considering possibly allocating a section on board regular flights from Eretz Yisrael towards the end of Adar as well as the same accommodation at the end of Nissan from North America to Israel. This would accommodate the many yeshiva and seminary students making their way from Israel to N. America and back to yeshiva after the yomtov. This they explain would compel most flights to adhere to the needs of chareidi travelers during the peak season travel period.
(Yechiel Spira – YWN Israel)