Ultra-Orthodox Jews Get Off N.Y.-Tel Aviv Flight Rather Than Sit Next to Opposite Sex

The Delta flight was over an hour late because Haredi men and women preferred to disembark rather than take their assigned seats.

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A passenger walks past a Delta Air Lines aircraft.
A passenger walks past a Delta Air Lines aircraft.Credit: AP
Zohar Blumenkrantz
Zohar Blumenkrantz

A Delta Airlines flight from New York to Tel Aviv was delayed Monday night after ultra-Orthodox men and women refused to take their seats next to members of the opposite sex. Instead, the Haredi passengers decided to get off the plane, rather than take their assigned seats for the flight to Israel. Their baggage then had to be located and removed from the baggage compartment, causing the plane to take off about an hour and a quarter late.

Delta Airlines said that its flight, 468, from Kennedy Airport to Ben-Gurion Airport, which was to have landed on Tuesday at 14:35 would arrive late because a number of passengers had chosen to disembark.

Over the last month, there have been several reports of delays in El Al flights due to the refusal of ultra-Orthodox men to sit next to women on the plane. In some cases, the men reportedly offered to pay the female passengers to switch their seats. The men reportedly stood in the aisle rather than be seated next to a woman, prompting the captain to refuse to take off.

These incidents have led to the circulation of a petition demanding that El Al put an end to what petitioners call the harassment of its female passengers by ultra-Orthodox men. Despite the public outcry, El Al recently said it has no official policy for dealing with the issue and has no intention of putting one in place.

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