El Al offers free flight to Europe to passengers of nightmare flight
El Al, Israel's flagship airline, announced that it would compensate all 400 passengers that were aboard the so-called nightmare flight with a round-trip to a European destination, The Jerusalem Post reports.
In a statement released by the company on Monday, El Al said that it did not blame anybody for events that occurred on the November 15 flight. Any publication that would lay the blame on either haredi, religious or the secular travelers, was not representative of the company, the statement said, adding that El Al does not differentiate between sector, gender or nationality of its customers.
Fierce disagreements broke out over the past week about what happened aboard Flight LY 002 from New York to Tel Aviv on November 15. Original reports by the flight crew and secular passengers said that haredim got violent after realizing the flight they were on was not likely to make it to Ben-Gurion Airport before the onset of Shabbat after it was delayed due to snow storms in the US.
The ultra-orthodox passengers later denied they were violent and claimed that they had voiced their concerns while still on the ground at JFK Airport in New York and requested to get off but were denied and mislead by the crew. Some accounts described that the religious passengers decided to stay onboard after the pilot promised to get them home before sunset Friday afternoon, while others said they were "kidnapped" against their will.
Once in the air, the pilot had to admit though that the scenario of getting to Israel in time was not likely and had to land in Athens, where the religious passengers spent an improvised Shabbat.
Haredi reactions to the mishap were furious, with influential Rabbi Sholom Ber Sorotzkin, who was on the flight, announcing a boycott of El Al until the company publicly apologized for misleading the passengers and accusing the ultra-orthodox customers of getting violent.
El Al, trying to do damage control and not affront its large haredi customer base, largely staved off taking sides in the debate that erupted between the secular and religious accounts of the on-goings. In the statement released Monday, El Al promised all of its passengers a round-trip to Europe, as compensation for inconvenience caused by the events.