Should Religious Beliefs Dictate Seating of Passengers Aboard an Airplane?

“A n El-Al flight from New York to Tel Aviv was turned into an ‘11-hour nightmare’ after hundreds of ultra-Orthodox Jewish passengers refused to sit next to women”, according to this article written by David Millward, who is the United States Correspondent for The Telegraph.

Flights to and from Israel have been full within the past week due to the holidays of Rosh Hashanah — the Jewish new year — and Yom Kippur, the day of atonement which is the holiest day of the Jewish calendar. L’Shanah Tovah to you if you celebrate the holidays.

By the way: for those of you who were hoping to live long enough to see the year 5775, congratulations — the day is here!

The ultra-Orthodox Jewish passengers refused to accept the seat arrangements because their beliefs dictate that men and women remain segregated — even though the passengers had been pre-assigned seats before boarding.

I posted an article earlier today pertaining to whether or not children should be banned from premium class cabins aboard airplanes; and I have also posted at least one article as to whether or not food allergies should determine what is served aboard an airplane — but should religious beliefs determine how passengers are seated aboard an airplane?

Regardless of how many flights which occur in the world every day, an airplane is still a finite space — space which is at a premium. This is especially true as airlines attempt to squeeze as many passengers into that finite space as much as possible. To separate passengers by religious beliefs, dietary conditions, age, gender, service dogs and emotional support animals, and other criteria is virtually impossible.

I am not a religious person by any means; but I do not believe that the religious beliefs of anyone should be imposed upon anyone else. Religious beliefs are a private matter for me. If a person asked me politely if I can change seats with him or her, I would more than likely comply – regardless of the reason…

…but if a religious person disrupted my enjoyment of travel in an attempt to impose unreasonable demands on me and fellow passengers due to religious beliefs, I draw the line there. It is not my problem that you refuse to sit next to a member of a different gender due to religious beliefs. The world did not come to an end when the religious passengers on that airplane operated by El Al reportedly agreed to sit in their assigned seats in order to not delay the departure any further…

…and if their seats were assigned significantly in advance of departure, why did the religious passengers not call agents of El Al ahead of time in a proactive move to ensure that the seating is what they wanted?

I have absolutely no problem with people who adhere to religious practices as they determine to be right for them; but to impose them on others — directly or indirectly, forcibly or voluntary — is simply wrong, in my opinion. People should be respectful of others — regardless of religious beliefs.

We all have but only one planet to share…

10 thoughts on “Should Religious Beliefs Dictate Seating of Passengers Aboard an Airplane?”

  1. Vicente says:

    If it’s that important to them, why didn’t they charter their own flight?

  2. Anne says:

    Hundreds? Easy fix: arrange a charter.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      I actually wondered the same thing, Anne

  3. Voice of Reason says:

    These people live to cause problems for others. They’re not happy otherwise. OF COURSE they could have chartered a flight or even called ahead and arranged something with El Al, but they didn’t because they are arrogant and they think people will just do whatever they want. As someone who was raised Jewish, I am embarrassed on behalf of the rest of us. They wonder why half the world hates Jews…

  4. My religion says that I always have to sit in first class.

  5. I’m neither Jewish nor a New Yorker, so I don’t have a dog in this fight, but after reading this I remembered a NYT article from a few weeks ago which seems relevant:

    “A 2012 demographic study by UJA-Federation of New York found that 60 percent of Jewish children in the New York City area — the Jewish center of the United States — live in Orthodox homes, which suggests that in a generation a majority of the city’s one million Jews may be classified as Orthodox. A sizable percentage of those children happen to be Hasidim, the group that has fueled Orthodox growth with its astonishing fecundity. (Seven or eight children per family is common and one Hasidic woman, Yitta Schwartz, had about 2,000 living descendants when she died in 2010.)”

  6. ed says:

    I would have gladly given up my seat.

  7. Jonathan Wolman says:

    I would like more info on the religion that would require me to be assigned first class on every flight. Where do I apply? Is there a free toaster involved for signing up? Is there a mileage bonus involved?

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      Heh…if I knew that, I would have told you a long time ago!

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