Friday, September 08, 2006

Fear of flying

Anyone who has ever flown to or from Israel is familiar with the sight of a minyan of men forming up, usually at the back of the plane, to say whichever prayer co-incides with the flight. Many of those of us who frequent such minyanim will have been shocked by the widely reported news that a Chasid was removed from a flight for praying in his seat as the flight was about to take off. Not getting in anyone's way, not making a noise even - just shockling back and forth in his seat a little.

Now I must admit that I've said a few prayers whilst flying - particularly when we've hit bad turbulence - most flyers would, I think, admit to saying a silent thanks upon landing safely at the far end after a bumpy ride - I certainly won't be in future, knowing it could get me kicked off the plane.

I think that that this could be setting a rather dangerous precedent if people are going to be thrown off a flight every time another passenger reports that a person on the flight is making them nervous. I for example, am made nervous any time I see a young Muslim man on an airplane; knowing that the majority of hijackings have involved this demographic, I think that I this is perfectly rational - so do I report my concerns? If I were to get on a plane wearing a kippa and find myself sitting in front of a crowd of tatooed, National Front supporting skinheads, I'd certainly be nervous but they might equally report a sudden, atypical case of nerves in order to spite me and have me removed from a flight.

Where does it end? The possibilities for madness are fairly clear - it certainly doesn't appear that this guy was doing anything threatening, bothersome or even out of the ordinary - merely sitting in his seat. A simple solution presents itself in order to prevent possible (even likely) abuses of the precedent. You feel nervous about someone without being able to provide a valid reason? Fine. Seeing as the airline's security checks have not turned anything up, we'll be happy to remove you from the flight and you can pay for a new ticket on a flight which you'll be comfortable with. Then we'll see how nervous they really are.



tafka PP said...

That's an idea! I'd dress up in slightly suspect items just to get upgraded...

You are missed!

Shabbat Shalom

Ronaldo Assis de Moreira said...

To help you keep up with the goals...