An EL AL flight diverted to Halifax after the smell of smoke filled the rear of the Boeing 777-200. But this was more than just a delay…it was another logistics challenge as Sabbath quickly approached.
LY26 departed Newark on Thursday night, bound for Tel Aviv. It was due to arrive just after 1:00PM on Friday, giving observant passengers just enough time to get home prior to the start of Shabbat.
About there hours into the flight, however, passengers smelled smoke. The flight crew decided to make a U-turn and land in Halifax, which was the closest major airport. Once on the ground, a full technical inspection was ordered.
Flight diversions are fairly common. I cover this particular diversion because it happened late on Thursday night. Even when repaired, the aircraft could not continue to Tel Aviv because it would land after Shabbat, from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday. EL AL does not operate over Shabbat.
We’ll return to that dilemma in a moment.
First, I think it is always helpful not to downplay how scared something like smoke onboard and a sudden U-turn makes passengers. Dorit Adi, a passenger onboard, told the Times of Israel:
“Suddenly I saw the flight attendants running and there was a smell of smoke. I saw on the screen that the plane was doing a u-turn and it was terribly frightening. We were told that there was smoke in the back of the plane. It is terrifying, you don’t know what will happen.”
“We were told to put our shoes on and fasten our safety belts. The big fear was of landing, that something would happen. In the end we landed safely and then we were on the plane for another three hours.We are now at the Halifax airport where we have been waiting for two hours for a bus to take us to the hotel. The staff is in contact with us all the time and they are trying to help.”
Scary indeed. The passengers were eventually accommodated in a local hotel.
The Sabbath Dilemma
But there was another problem: Shabbat was approaching.
When I saw the EL AL flight diverted, I smiled and thought I’m sure Chabad came to the rescue. Indeed, I was correct.
If you’re not familiar with Chabad organizations, I covered another EL AL diversion here…it was one of my favorite stories I’ve written on Live and Let’s Fly.
> Read More: The Good That Came From The Delayed EL AL Flight
With news of the incoming flight, three organizations sprang into action. First, Chabad of Halifax was on-site to assist passengers. Next, Montreal Hatzolah rapidly assembled Kosher meals for the passengers and flew them to Halifax this morning. Hatzalah is a volunteer emergency medical service organization serving mostly Jewish communities around the world. Finally, Gourmet Glatt, an upscale Kosher supermarket in Brooklyn assembled more food that was flown to Halifax.
In the end, the passengers are currently enjoying a restful Sabbath with full stomachs…it truly warms my heart to see the community rush to the aid of stranded travelers.
No delay is a necessarily a fun delay, but honestly…if I ever am delayed on EL AL I hope it is just before Shabbat. I also hope the passengers of LY26 make it home tomorrow night.
image: Aero Icarus / Wikimedia Commons