Thousands of Israeli airline passengers whose flights to the United States were canceled because of Hurricane Sandy will not be entitled to monetary compensation for their trouble because under the newly enacted law on flight delays, the storm is considered force majeure, or an act of God. Passengers will, however, be entitled to their money back or an alternate flight on the canceled route.
Air traffic between Israel and the United States will be limited again on Tuesday as the hurricane hits America's northeast coast.
On Monday, all direct flights between Tel Aviv and New York were canceled, as was the US Airways flight to Philadelphia. The other airlines affected were El Al, Delta and United-Continental.
Those flying from Israel to the eastern seaboard via Europe also saw their flights canceled.
Airlines asked passengers to stay updated through the airlines' Internet sites and the media regarding when flights would start again. It is still unclear what solutions the airlines will offer after the storm clears: They may add flights or switch to larger planes to clear the backlog.
Passengers on El Al will be able to change the dates of their flights without any penalty, said the airline yesterday.
As Hurricane Sandy was about to strike the eastern seaboard of the United States, with the possibility of major life-threatening damage, the storm already had taken at least 65 lives, many in Haiti, by Monday evening, causing tens of billions of dollars in damage.
Sandy also shut down U.S. stock markets because of the weather for the first time in 27 years.
Jewish institutions shut down
Jewish institutions throughout the eastern United States were closing in preparation for the onslaught of Sandy. The hurricane was set to make landfall late Monday, but rain and high winds already have started to batter the East Coast. The storm is expected to cause massive flooding and major power outages.
The UJA-Federation of New York posted a notice on its website that the building would be closed and all meetings and events canceled Monday, with expectations that Sunday's events would also be canceled. The Jewish Community Center in Manhattan also announced that it would be closed Monday and remain so until it is safe to return.
Also in New York, public transportation shut down on Sunday night, and schools and offices in the city were scheduled to be closed on Monday. Areas of Brooklyn and the Rockaways were ordered evacuated.
The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington and area day schools also closed Monday, though the JCC of Greater Washington was scheduled to remain open until mid-afternoon Monday.
The Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia also announced that it would be closed Monday.