How El Al almost grounded Pesach

A late change to departure time could have scuppered Passover plans for UK Jews


Few flights are likely to be as packed as El Al’s from London to Tel Aviv two days before Pesach.

Strange, then, that the firm brought forward the departure of Saturday night’s jet by 20 minutes to 10.10pm.

Not such a big issue, you might think, but consider that the plane was taking off from Heathrow, just 90 minutes after Shabbat ended, and you realise why so many people were concerned.

The original departure time of 10.30pm meant that, technically, religious passengers would not be able to make the flight, which had a supposed three-hour check-in limit.

Anyone who has ever flown to Israel will know how spurious that deadline is, but passengers nonetheless reacted furiously to the decision to bring forward the flight after their tickets had been booked.

The JC understands that customers who complained to El Al were simply told to leave home the minute Shabbat went out and hope Heathrow security wouldn't delay them.

No doubt sympathy will be supplied by the bucketload by British Jews left to queue in kosher shops and turn their houses upside down this week while our cousins sun themselves on Israel’s beaches.

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