Skip to content

Court Rules El Al Can No Longer Ask Women to Switch Seats

June 26, 2017
2 min read
Court Rules El Al Can No Longer Ask Women to Switch Seats
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
Sign up for our daily newsletter

Renee Rabinowitz was already in her seat on a flight from Newark (EWR) to Tel Aviv (TLV) on El Al when she got an unusual request: a flight attendant asked her to switch seats, as an ultra-Orthodox Jewish man objected to sitting next to her. She said she felt "humiliated" by the request but obliged. After the incident, she sued the carrier for damages.

Just a few days ago, a court ruled that Rabinowitz, a Holocaust survivor, was in the right, and the carrier has since been banned from asking women to switch seats simply because an Orthodox man doesn't want to sit next to her — Negiah, a concept in Jewish law, forbids men from touching women other than their wives in order to protect against extra-marital attraction.

Rabinowitz received 6,500 shekels (~$1,800) in damages from El Al following the court's decision. Additionally, the court said El Al was required to inform its crew that fulfilling requests to move passengers based on gender is illegal. According to the BBC, the civil rights group, Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC), which represented Rabinowitz, said the court's decision was "a huge victory" in a "long-fought battle against gender segregation in the public sphere."

The court ruling ends years of debate over what is labeled as discriminatory. Plus, from other passengers' perspectives, this could be even better news, as there were often delays on El Al flights whenever crew had to relocate passengers.


Featured image by AFP/Getty Images

Top offers from our partners

How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
See all best card offers