Passengers Sue United Airlines Over Pilot’s Refusal to Fly to Tel Aviv

YERUSHALAYIM -

A group of Israeli passengers are suing United Airlines for a day-long series of delays which culminated in the refusal of the pilot to fly to Tel Aviv.

The passengers are seeking 1.18 million shekels (over $461,000) in damages from United Airlines for a 28-hour delay in a flight from the U.S. to Israel on June 13.  The 71 passengers filed a claim on Monday in the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court.

“We boarded the flight, and a technical malfunction delayed the takeoff; we missed our slot, another hour and a half delay; we begin to roll, and another [problem] pops up,” traveler Amir Ofer told reporters in June.

“We were held on the plane as if we were hostages,” another passenger, Roni Meital, said.

The passengers were then forced to deplane and wait three hours for an alternate flight. When that didn’t materialize, they were then given vouchers to stay at a hotel. But reservations at the hotel were in chaos and many were forced to return to the airport, where they slept on the floor of the terminal.

When they finally boarded a flight, which was delayed three hours, they had to wait for three hours more, until “the pilot decided abruptly and without explanation that he didn’t want to fly the plane to Tel Aviv,” the passenger’s representative said.

In response, United spokesmen said at the time that flight UA84 “was canceled due to adverse weather conditions at Newark Liberty International Airport,” adding that “Our customer service team at New York/Newark provided assistance to customers and overnight hotel accommodation.”

United said that “the pilot was not removed from the cockpit,” despite a cellphone clip showing the pilot walking down the aisle accompanied by two uniformed New York police officers.

According to one passenger, it was unclear if the pilot’s refusal to take off was due to a labor dispute or a personal unwillingness to fly to Israel.