El Al Ticket Insanity

By now you have all heard, I am sure, about the craziness on Monday of return flights to Israel on El Al being sold for $350 or thereabouts. Insanity!! A crazy reduction, the likes of which had never been seen before. I was feeling very regretful that I didn’t get in on it.

It was a third party mistake – fuel surcharges had not been factored in. A mistake that was not discovered for several hours.

Initially El Al said they would honour the tickets – however, yesterday they backtracked and tweeted that no firm decision has yet been made.

I have seen many holier-than-thou posts saying how dare these people take advantage of a Jewish company, causing them to lose millions of dollars, that it was immoral for anyone to have taken advantage of these prices.

Several of my friends bought tickets. All of them thought it was seat sale of some sort. Not one of them set out to buy tickets to cheat El Al out of money. All the moralizing is making my head hurt. Should we buy nothing on sale because it means the company will lose money? How was anyone supposed to know that these prices were a mistake?

I am sure there are legal issues that El Al needs to work out, I am also sure that El Al cannot afford to lose millions of dollars – a loss that would result if they honoured the thousands of tickets that were purchased during the glitch.

What do you think they should do – to ensure continued customer loyalty AND to safeguard their own bottom line?

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15 Comments

  1. I think they should make Expedia pay the difference– they were the ones who made the error. Or they should issue vouchers equal to the cost of the tickets for future travel, so people can get discounted tickets later. Or they should honour the tickets.

  2. I don’t think it is a holier than thou or an immoral sort of thing. I know most of the people buying them thought it was a sale and didn’t know it was a mistake. But I just learned that in fact there is an issue in halacha from benefitting from a Jew’s mistake.

    (I would never say “How dare you take advantage you’re so immoral” – at the same time I’m starting to think there is a general ignorance of business-related halacha. I myself just learned that it is an issue. But someone pointed out that if a third-party business is taking the loss then people won’t need to return the tickets).

    Of course you should buy things on sale – things put on sale are put on sale so the company can get rid of them and not pay extra taxes on whatever they are selling (or so I thought) – you are helping them. The difference is the tickets were a mistake and not a sale. How should someone have known that? I don’t know.

    Even if they just return the money and decide not to honor the tickets they will not lose customer loyalty – they have loyal customers who pay the regular fares anyways – most of the people who bought tickets were people who would never pay to fly El Al in the first place (because they ARE expensive).

    Summary: No the people who jumped on it weren’t being immoral or bad or whatever – I just don’t think people knew it is a problem.

  3. Daniella says:

    Expedia should be forced to pay the fuel expenses for those passengers or El Al will be losing money on practically every flight on which those tickets were booked. If Expedia refuses to pay, then the people who booked their tickets under the erroneous pricing should understand why El Al cannot honor them at a loss.

  4. 13% of ELAL is owned by the Israeli Government – thereby, the people of Israel. ELAL posted loses of of $49.4 million in 2011…so I wonder if taking advantage ticket bug hits the Israeli taxpayer at the bottom line.

  5. another person's view says:

    I don’t know what El Al can do to remedy the situation. They obviously have to protect their bottom line and they want to keep their customers happy. If both can be done, that would be great. I’m sure a lot of it will have to do with the lawyers on all ends (El Al, 3rd party sites, etc.) working out the various details.

    I’m not sure how you can say that “all” of your friends who purchased tickets in the craze thought it was just a sale. One of your friends explicitly thanked “computer errors” for her tickets. I am no scholar, but that seems… not Kosher, shall we say.

  6. halach says:

    It is questionable whether it is a problem of Jewish law or not. I asked an Orthodox Rabbi and he said that it really depends on the circumstances and at the time that the purchase was made by most people the circumstances were not known. All we knew is that the prices were really cheap right then. So it is not clear that anyone did anything wrong by purchasing those tickets.

  7. Lady Lock N Load says:

    I was thinking it would be a big Kiddush Hashem if everyone who bought tickets just call El Al and cancel, getting their money back. Like that’s going to happen.
    I wouldn’t want to take advantage of any airline, especially and Israeli one.

  8. Laura says:

    I bought them just as I do when anything is on sale!!! I’m a store owner and sell things on SALE at a loss all the time to help cash flow!!!! I’m proud I got in on the deal and proud I can help as all the other thousands who will help boost Israel’s economy, by staying in full price hotels buying full priced meals and gifts!!!! That’s helping Israel more than u holier than thou jealous ones who didn’t get the deal!!!!!!

  9. Lady Lock N Load says:

    El Al stands to lose millions of dollars from this error. You can’t compare that to a sale at a store.
    But I do agree that more people coming to Israel will be good for Israel’s economy. It’s just the method they were able to travel there that I am not sure about.
    Personally, it’s not a jealousy thing, as I only fly direct to Israel. I can only handle one take off and one landing.

    • Mark says:

      more people coming to Israel

      Are they adding additional flights because of this error? Do they even have additional planes available to add flights?

  10. laura says:

    oh so look at that, lady lock n load now u missed a direct flight on the same deal!!! stay holy!!!! this was all to create a hype by EL AL and jit worked, their name is buzzing like it never did before and it won them first place in customer service, which they have never had before. YOUR loss Lady!!!

  11. just thinking says:

    Laura- stop being so nasty- nobody is acting holier than though other than you.

  12. Lou Tignoff says:

    holier than thou? I beg to differ. Take a look at Be’er HaGolah on simam 348 in Hoshen Mishpat. Taking advantage of another’s mistake whether they are Jew, non-Jew or idol worshipper is theft. My rule of thumb is that if a price looks to good to be true (unless advertised as such), I don’t buy it. Geneivah is a doraisa, which mean it is more important than covering your hair, refraining from eating a chicken cheeseburger or refraining from flicking on a fluorescent bulb on Shabbos. It’s time we got our priorities straight.

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