Old 747s and a Prayer

June 8, 2017

in Airplane Stories

My spouse, a friend and I took a tour of the Holy Land last year. We all sat in the same row next to each other. Since I had flown internationally several times, I thought El Al Airlines would provide the same excellent international flying experience I had received on other airlines. Boy, was I wrong!

It was an overnight flight from JFK to TLV both ways. They fly an old ragged fleet of 747s, and when I say ragged, I mean ragged. When we boarded our outgoing flight, I noticed some of the overhead reading lights in the cabin were working and some weren’t. None on our row were working. So I asked the flight attendant about it. She told me they would all work once we reached cruising altitude. I knew this was one of those obvious professional lies used by this airline’s flight crews to get around trying to explain their dilapidated equipment. I just let it slide. Of course, once we got to altitude, none of our reading lights in our row worked.

In addition, none of the in-flight entertainment systems worked either. We were stuck in the dark on an overnight flight (11 hours) with nothing to do, except try to sleep. However, there was entertainment. The plane had many Hasidic Jews who were up and down all night long digging through their overhead baggage for religious paraphernalia, which they promptly strapped to their bodies and prayed. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not criticizing or judging, but it was distracting. But who am I? When in Rome, be a Roman.

The meals were okay but nothing to write home about, and the flight crew was attentive. But I prayed about the maintenance of the plane’s engines and flight controls all night. On the return flight, when my spouse sat down in his seat, his head rest came completely off the seat and fell in his lap. We brought it to the flight attendant’s attention and she offered to move him, but he declined because we wanted to all sit together. I also noticed when we disembarked at JFK that many cushions had come loose from their seats and were scattered around the floor of the cabin. At least the reading lights and entertainment system worked on the return flight.

Again, I prayed all night over the Atlantic that the engines and flight systems of the plane were better maintained than the plane’s interior. One real positive note – they definitely believe in security. We were grilled by El Al Airline security to the max both ways and that made me feel somewhat safe.

My lasting thought about the flights were that they don’t have to worry about one of their planes going down because of terrorism; my bet would be on lack of maintenance. Probably won’t fly El Al again.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

APNY June 13, 2017 at 11:36 am

Are you honestly upset that Jews had to pray and follow religious observances?? That it was "distracting?" Excellent casual anti-Semitism there.


prp June 15, 2017 at 7:20 pm

Absolutely NO anti Semitism in her post.


APNY June 27, 2017 at 8:08 am

Bullshit. Open your eyes.


APNY June 27, 2017 at 8:10 am

"It was distracting." So people praying the same way for thousands of years distracts her?

Good job there weren't any Muslims on her flight. Not that she would have flown then, no doubt.


nymtt June 28, 2017 at 7:17 am

Why wouldn't people rifling through their things be distracting – not matter what their intent was? I believe the OP stated why they were doing that to add detail to the story so that the reader understood why the activity was occurring. Seems to me that you (APNY) are being a bit oversensitive here.


Morty October 29, 2017 at 4:10 pm

“The plane had many Hasidic Jews who were up and down all night long digging through their overhead baggage for religious paraphernalia, which they promptly strapped to their bodies and prayed”

I would read that as being anti-Semitic as well. There was no need to refer to them as “Hasidic Jews” and “digging through their overhead baggage for religious paraphernalia” Normally one would just say, “passengers digging in and out of their carry-ons all night long”

Just to note that the airline she flew on is the Israeli national airline, so you should yeah, there is going to be a of us Jewish folk on this airline.

Fpr the record, El Al’s 747s are -400 series, so they are “not that old or ragged”, just well utilized.

As for your comment about the flight attendant clearly lying; flight attendants are not maintenance personnel and they are not versed in the mechanical aspects of aircraft. Their primary job is to ensure the safety the passengers first and foremost, second in tending to customer service and waiting on pax further down the line.

Cushions are suppose to come off the seats, they are to bed as flotation devices in the event of a water landing.

El Al for the record has one of the best safety and maintenance ratings globally among all airlines. Rated the safest airline n the world for 2014. there has not bee a hull-loss of any planes since 1992, and the one they had in 92 was a cargo aircraft

Jrl June 14, 2017 at 9:46 am

I don't think the poster of the message was being anti semitic or anti anything. They stated that people getting up and rifling through their bags on a long haul overnight flight was distracting. I would agree with that statement. The poster did also say they were not judging or criticizing the people , it seems to me they understood the religious nature of the activity but that doesn't make it any less distracting.


APNYC June 27, 2017 at 8:08 am

Yeah, no doubt people who make bigoted comments use the "But I'm not being racist" statement all the time.


jonesnori September 17, 2017 at 7:58 pm

It seemed anti-Semitic to me, too, in a deniable way.


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