The Disconnecting Flight

NOTE: This is old news. Nevertheless it’s worth taking another look at….

The story goes like this:

A woman from Florida who happens to be my mother-in-law decided to fly to Israel. It wasn’t her first time in the Holy Land but it was her first flight with EL AL. Should be a great experience right? I would think so. I once got bumped up to first class even before I stepped foot on my flight and loved every minute of it.

But this woman from Florida, now known as Debra Ryder, was in the wrong place at the wrong time. You see, when she boarded the flight and found her aisle seat a man was sitting there and he wouldn’t get up.

She couldn’t understand why and when the man was asked to move he mumbled things and refused to get up.

As some of the surrounding passengers began to get frustrated with the man the steward came over and tried to reason with him but he insisted on sitting in Mrs Ryder’s seat. Why? Because either he was supposed to sit next to a woman elsewhere or the man next to him was afraid he would have to sit next to a woman so they conspired together.

I use the term conspired because neither asked Mrs Ryder if it was ok to make a switch and did so unapologetically.

Neither the steward, the surrounding passengers, nor a very exhausted Mrs Ryder were able to change the men’s minds.

The result:

  • Mrs Ryder, who specifically asked for the aisle seat because of a medical condition, had to sit in a middle seat.
  • Her vegetarian meal was lost.
  • She was embarrassed and felt humiliated.

Following the flight she submitted a compliant to EL AL which included a section on a lost checked bag in which personal belongings were damaged from a foreign liquid which was not originally in her possession and the mutilation of a second checked bag.

With regard to the baggage EL AL did replace the mutilated bag for free and were very good about that. However, for the more emotional part of the journey they only offered $100 coupon for a future flight -something to which Mrs Ryder hadn’t even considered again because of the entire ‘balagan.’

Prior to her return trip she connected with Adv. Orly Erez-Likhovsky of the Israel Religious Action Center and they filed a discrimination suit against EL AL seeking NIS 50,000 ($12,500) in compensation for the distress caused by the incident.

Aside from seeking substantial compensation for Mrs Ryder’s troubles it is hoped that the case will bring pressure on EL AL to clamp down on these types of incidents as the bottom line should be someones seat is someon’s seat.

Anyway, you can check out some of the facts, fiction, and nonsense being written about the case by various news outlets….,7340,L-4266921,00.html

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