An Israeli journalist and news anchor is accusing a United Airlines flight attendant of some pretty unacceptable behavior on a transatlantic flight that’s currently airborne…
Men don’t want to sit next to woman on United flight
This incident happened today (Tuesday, August 15, 2023), and involves United Airlines flight UA85 from Tel Aviv (TLV) to Newark (EWR). The flight, which is currently in the air, is being operated by a Boeing 787-10 with the registration code N13018.
Journalist Neria Kraus posted the following to social media (this is verbatim, using Google Translate):
“Haredim on the flight are now trying to move me from seat to seat. Because I am a woman. United Airlines does not handle this by the way. They tell me that because of the flight you will not leave. shame.”
“What a sense of humiliation that the stewardess in charge of United, an Israeli who speaks Hebrew, approaches me and shouts at me that the flight will not take off. And if they do fly, the flight will have to stop in Egypt because of me. Thanks to two amazing Israeli men and women next to me who supported me.”
So yeah, according to her, because her seatmates didn’t want to sit next to a woman, the purser yelled at her and told her that she must move, or else the flight wouldn’t depart.
It’s not uncommon for some male passengers (particularly on flights to and from Israel) to refuse to sit next to a female passenger for religious reasons. Based on the reports that I’ve seen, this typically happens a lot more on EL AL than on carriers like United, so I’m a bit surprised to see how the crew handled this.
To shame a woman for not changing seats, and to shout at her and claim that her unwillingness to switch seats will delay the flight and cause it not to take off, is absurd and beyond basic human dignity.
Passengers shouldn’t be imposed on in this way
If someone has a religious belief that they believe prevents them from sitting next to a certain type of passenger, then the duty is on them to make accommodations so that they don’t end up in this situation. They can try to discuss this with the gate agent in advance, or they can book an extra seat, or they can make sure they travel with others who don’t violate their beliefs system.
But to get on a plane, see you’re seated next to a female, and then try to force them to change seats (simply because of their gender, something they have no control over), is completely unacceptable. This is discriminatory, plain and simple, and any airline that tries to force people to switch seats on account of their gender should be investigated by the Department of Transportation.
While airlines don’t guarantee seat assignments, and these can be moved around for operational reasons, violating someone else’s personal beliefs system shouldn’t be among those reasons. What’s next? “Oh, I’m not comfortable sitting next to a Black person?” “Oh, I’m not comfortable sitting next to a gay person?”
If someone has a problem with the person they’re seated next to, and if they can’t work this out on their own, they can deplane and find another flight that meets their needs. But it shouldn’t be on the person who is simply guilty of living their life to be forced to accommodate someone else.
An Israeli woman was asked to change seats with a group of men who weren’t comfortable sitting next to a woman. She refused. Rather than telling the men to deplane if they weren’t happy, the United crew reportedly told the woman that if she didn’t move, the flight wouldn’t depart.
I hope United investigates this situation, and provides some training to crews about how to handle these situations.