Haredi passengers refuse to sit next to women on Tel Aviv-London flight


(JTA) — Haredi Orthodox passengers on a flight from Tel Aviv to London refused to take their seats next to women, delaying its departure.

Police were called to the EasyJet plane when it landed at London Luton Airport on Monday afternoon, according to reports. One officer stood at the door of the plane and two on the tarmac as the passengers deplaned to prevent a possible “breach of the peace” by the haredi passengers, the Jewish Chronicle reported Wednesday.

According to the report, some 10 haredi passengers stood in the aisles rather than take their seats before takeoff of the flight, which was reported to be completely full. After a 15-minute standoff, some female passengers offered to change their seats so the flight could leave.

A passenger told the newspaper that the men did not say thank you to the women and the stewards for the switch in seats.

Another haredi passenger plugged his cellphone into a USB port on the crew control panel in the stewards’ galley area in order to charge it, causing the plane’s exit lights to illuminate and panicking the staff until they realized the problem, according to the Chronicle.

The airline confirmed in a statement that the flight was met by police on arrival at London Luton “due to a small group of passengers behaving disruptively by not complying with the captain and cabin crew’s request to take their seats both prior to departure from Tel Aviv and during the flight.”

The airline also acknowledged the passenger’s attempt to charge his cellphone, saying it “did not in any way compromise the safety or security of the aircraft.”

Separately, an Air Canada flight from Toronto to Tel Aviv made an emergency landing early Wednesday morning at London’s Heathrow Airport because of a disruptive passenger. The passenger was attempting to strangle random passengers on the flight, Ynet reported.

Airline security officials ordered the pilots to make the emergency landing. Passengers reportedly physically restrained the woman until the flight landed.

Police were called to the runway and boarded the plane when it touched down. Members of the flight’s crew and police officers removed the woman from the flight.

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