As the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, with 239 passengers, continues, the mystery deepens.
The Associated Press reported today that “Malaysian military has radar data showing the missing Boeing 777 jetliner changed course and made it to the Malacca Strait, hundreds of miles from the last position recorded by civilian authorities, according to a senior military official.”
“The development injects more mystery into the investigation of the disappearance of Saturday’s flight, and raises questions about why the aircraft was not transmitting signals detectable by civilian radar.”
All our sophisticated tracking technology is no match for the ocean.
This is not the first such mystery.
On December 5, 1945, Flight 19 took off from the U.S. Naval Air Station in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The plane ran out of fuel and in a triangle formed by drawing points connecting Bermuda, Miami and San Juan, Puerto Rico, the plane disappeared without a trace.
A rescue plane with its 13 men also disappeared. The only trace was a report of a huge fireball and an oil slick.
The Bermuda Triangle, also known as “The Devil’s Triangle,” has since become a legend — and a flight path to avoid.
As the search goes on, another mystery has come to light. Only this is not about missing passengers; it’s about a passenger who missed the flight.
And the story wasn’t reported in the mainstream press. It was a post in a popular bargain blog called Dan’s Deals. Many of the deals Dan lists are for flights. Not surprisingly, some of his readers are travel agents.
On March 10, Dan reported a different kind of saving — a life saved by not traveling.
A reader and close friend of Dan’s is a travel agent, an agent who is still flying high from his role in the story. In a series of emails, it unfolds that a client needed a connecting flight from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing, China. And he asked to book it for Saturday.
The agent, who is an Orthodox Jew, tried to encourage his client — also Jewish — to switch his flight to Friday. And he sweetened the deal with a better price.
The client liked the price but said no, he needed to be in Beijing that day.
Dan writes: “The travel agent responded that he would not be able to book travel for him over the Sabbath, but that he was free to book that flight by himself.” The agent wrote: “I wish I can give you a day later, but you know I just don’t like flying Jews on Shabbat.” Then he suggested the client book that leg himself and he’d remove the charge. And, he added, if the client changes his mind to let him know.
Something in the response — or in his own heart — made the client write back: “I reconsidered. You are right. I should be more observant. I’ll manage that day in Kuala.” And he added: “Since I’ll have an extra night in PEK, any recommendations for a good Friday night dinner in Beijing?”
The travel agent recommended a place to get a nice kosher meal. And he booked the flight from Kuala to Beijing for Friday instead of Saturday.
The travel agent, who lives in Israel, opened his email after Shabbos and found the following message:
“Holy G-d! You sure heard what happened to MH370. I can’t stop thinking about this. This is a true miracle for the books. You are a true lifesaver… I cannot think anymore. We’ll talk later this week.”
The agent replied: “Not I am the life saver. G-d and Shabbat were your life savers. You owe them something.”
In the merit of Shabbos, to the passengers on MH370, “May Hashem protect your going and returning, now and forever.”