Flight delayed as haredi men refuse to sit next to woman

Ben Gurion-bound Delta plane from New York takes off late

A New York-bound Delta Air Lines Flight 469 at Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv (AP/Michael Simon)
A New York-bound Delta Air Lines Flight 469 at Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv (AP/Michael Simon)

An international flight from New York to Tel Aviv was delayed for half an hour after ultra-Orthodox men refused to sit between two women.

The flight crew of Delta Flight 468 departing John F. Kennedy Airport on December 20 attempted to find other seats for the haredi men. But other passengers refused to swap seats in protest at their refusal to sit next to female passengers, according to a Friday report by Israel Radio.

The men were finally accommodated by an American passenger who agreed to switch seats.

According to Federal Aviation Authority regulations, a flight is not permitted to take off until all passengers are seated.

In September, an El Al flight was grounded after a group of haredi men refused to sit next to a female passenger, resulting in an 11-hour delay described as a “nightmare” by passengers.

That incident sparked a petition calling on EL AL to protect its female travelers by reserving “a few rows of separate sex seating on every flight, where for a fee, those passengers who need such seating can pre-book their seats and not annoy or coerce other passengers before take-off to change seats with them — thereby avoiding arguments, bullying, and delayed take-off.”

The petition garnered over 5,000 signatures, but it is unclear whether the airline has introduced new policies that would help prevent similar situations.

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