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Daily Israel Report

Overbooked, Underfed El Al Passengers Finally Take Off

After hours of delay, El Al planes finally depart - kosher food and passengers intact.
By Yosef Berger
First Publish: 4/14/2014, 4:04 PM

El Al airplanes
El Al airplanes
Flash 90

At least eight El Al Europe-bound flights that had been grounded for several hours finally took off, with passengers finally seated - and fed. An El Al official said that the problems that the airline experienced Monday were due to a larger number of passengers arriving for flights than had been expected, with a number of flights overbooked.

It's not clear how the mass overbooking occurred, but passengers faced long lines and several-hour delays as airline personnel worked to sort things out.

Among the problems was a lack of kosher meals of passengers. As a kosher airline – meaning one that is under rabbinical culinary supervision – El Al is required to provide passengers with kosher food. That's not a great challenge for the Israeli airline throughout the year, since there are plenty of caterers ready to supply meals for travelers – but on Passover, when meal options are limited and many caterers shut down for the week instead of preparing their kitchen for the holiday – getting kosher for Passover ready-made meals for airline passengers is more difficult.

Flights to a number of destinations, including Amsterdam, Geneva, Budapest, Zurich, and Vienna were affected. The delays were between one and two hours. Airline officials asked travelers to be patient – and to be understanding if they did not get to eat on their flight.

Over 1 million travelers are expected to pass through Ben Gurion Airport before, during, and after Passover, with Monday, Passover Eve, one of the biggest travel days of the year. Passengers on El Al, however, may get to their destinations a bit late – because the airline has run out of kosher for Passover meals.