Sunday, September 25, 2011

Ethics Question of the Day

The following question was posted today in the Ethics Column of the New York Times:

My husband and son took a New York-to-Milwaukee flight that was supposed to leave Friday at 11:29 a.m. The flight boarded after 4 and didn’t leave the gate until 4:40, and a half-hour later the pilot announced it would be another hour until takeoff. At that point a devout Jewish family, worried about violating the Sabbath, asked to get off. Going back to the gate cost the plane its place in line for takeoff, and the flight was eventually canceled. Was the airline right to grant that request? M. W.,NORWALK, CONN.

Before looking at the response from the NY Time’s resident Ethicist, consider some of the following points:

  • Is it reasonable for an Orthodox Jew to book a ticket on a short flight leaving late Friday morning in the Summer (the flight took place in August).
  • If there is a 4 hour delay before boarding, is it reasonable for a passenger to refuse to board and demand that their luggage be removed from the plane, which could would cause further delays to other passengers.
  • If you end up on a plane close to Shabbat, is it reasonable to ask the crew if you can get off. If so, If the crew is unable to accommodate your request, how much of a “fuss should you make?
  • What are the Halachic implications of being stuck on a plane when Shabbat comes in? Could you deplane? If there is a hotel in the airport terminal, or within walking distance, could you check into it? What about issues of Tchum Shabbat, could you leave the terminal on Shabbat?

Now, go and take a look at the answer in the NY Times, take a look at the comments, and draw your own conclusions.

4 comments:

Garnel Ironheart said...

1) Is it reasonable for an Orthodox Jew to book a ticket on a short flight leaving late Friday morning in the Summer (the flight took place in August).

If I remember correctly, the Shulchan Aruch forbids setting off on a long boat trip on Friday because of this issue.

> If there is a 4 hour delay before boarding, is it reasonable for a passenger to refuse to board and demand that their luggage be removed from the plane, which could would cause further delays to other passengers.

As soon as the delay was annonuced the family should have asked for their bags back and left before boarding.

> If you end up on a plane close to Shabbat, is it reasonable to ask the crew if you can get off.

This ties into the next question.

> What are the Halachic implications of being stuck on a plane when Shabbat comes in? Could you deplane?

The SA deals with this but uses boats instead of planes, obviously. On one hand, you can just sit still on the plane. On the other hand, when you arrive at the terminal in the new city you're stuck in the building because your techum Shabbos was set elsewhere when Shabbos started. So you'd have to hang around the terminal until motzei Shabbos which raises lots of other issues.

Philip said...

How exactly do we even know the event described took place? Don't you think that would have made the news?

Michael Sedley said...

If you look at the comments on the site that I linked to, there were several people who commented who were on the same flight and said that the description of what happened is pretty accurate.

Mr. Cohen said...

Michael Sedley, if you link this blog to my Jewish web site [which has over 800 Jewish members], then I will link my Jewish web site to this blog.

My Jewish web site is:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/DerechEmet/