Thursday, May 11, 2006

EL-AL Premium Flights

There's been quite alot of jblogosphere discussion (Ezzie, DovBear, Orthomom, and others) the past few days about the exclusive EL-AL flight for 2 Rabbanim which was comprised of an air-attendant staff of only men.

That issue aside, there's another premium service flight that EL-AL offers that not too many people know about -- its the Kohein special. Same price from Newark to Tel-Aviv, but no dead bodies are aboard these flights to avoid the issue of Tumat HaMeit. A Kohein friend and I dicussed this on my way to work this morning, and he said it's the daily afternoon flight from Newark (but I don't know for certain - contact EL-AL for more details).

For those Kohanim that can't make this flight, there are 2 heterim for flying on airplanes with dead bodies aboard. ** (more info over here as well)

1. The first is from the Israel Chief Rabbinate, that due to the way bodies are packed into the special airline coffin -- there isn't a problem.

2. According to Rav Moshe's psak -- a Kohein shouldn't fly on a plane with a dead body. However he mentions at the end of the psak, that depending on the materials the plane is made of, it could be permissiable. My friend quoted R' Shabtai Rappaport that the current metals used in making airplanes render the issue of Tumat HaMeit irrelavent, since the floor dividing the passenger section from the cargo section is sufficient to be a barrier and thereby moot the issue.

(As a side note, when R' Rappaport was asked if he (also a Kohain) relied on this psak and flew EL-AL, he replied, "No...they don't have as much leg room as other airlines")

However, an even more difficult to solve issue, of which there were no heterim (that I know of) was that the flight path of all airlines out of Israel in 2001 went straight over the Holon Cemetary, thereby raising the issue again of Tumat HaMeit. As a result of the urgings of many Kohanim and rabbanim, all the flight paths have been changed and this is no longer an issue.

While we all have our share of issues with EL-AL, I think its praiseworthy that they addressed the issue of Tumat HaMeit for their priestly passengers.

** The halachik information here should be confirmed with your local Halachik authority.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael


Pragmatician said...

I like people looking for the positive in each person, corporation and situation.
And right now I'm glad I'm not a Kohen.

Sarah Likes Green said...

That is quite impressive that they do their best to accommodate Kohanim.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Actually, I was super impressed with them the last time I flew ELAL(a few weeks ago) since they were very sensitive to the needs of those who suffer from severe peanut allergies

JoeSettler said...

It stories like yours and the 'Kosher Tax' that simply give Jews a bad name. :)

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Joe: Yes, I'm sure the Pensioners party is up-in-arms over the flight path change, since it costs the airlines an extra dollar per flight.

westbankmama said...

Well, this just goes to show you that you never know what you will learn reading blogs...

Judah HaKohain said...

You rock. I posted a link to this message on Ha-Mikdash. Thanks. (and thanks to A Simple Jew for forwarding it to me!)

Irina Tsukerman said...

I didn't even realize El-Al carries dead bodies along with living passengers on a regular basis. Now I won't be able to stop thinking about what I'm taking along for the ride the next time I'm on board!

Dreams from a Parallel Life said...

Several years ago, the cost for transferring a corpse to Israel from the US was in the range of $4000. I remember hearing that more corpses arrive from the US than Olim so you can do the math and figure out just how profitable a business funeral planes are(Hopefully in recent years, NBN inspired Aliya has helped to change this). In addition to the flight over, in Jerusalem for example, in you are not a legal resident of the city, Chevra Kadisha will charge several thousands of dollars (negotiable) for a burial plot on Har Menuchot.
One can often see disposed tin flight caskets near the garbage bins in the parking lot of Har Menuchot. If the family of the deceased has no clue of how things work, the default is a stacked burial (a place in the wall). In cases where a child is buried on Har Menuchot, the adjoining plots are kept free. Parents are approached by the Chevra Kadisha and asked if they would like to purchase the plots at a cost of $5000 each.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I was out blogging and found your site. It certainly got my attention and interest. I was looking for American Airlines information and even though this isn't a perfect match I enjoyed your site. Thanks for the read!

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