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Cookie Schwaeber-Issan

David Takes on Goliath – And Isn’t It About Time!

It was like a breath of fresh air to read that someone has taken on United Airlines over their false allegation of a Tel Aviv curfew which resulted in a flight cancelation to Israel on August 6, 2022.

That someone is Migir Ilganayev, Esq., who was the victim of, not only having missed his flight, having to pay an extra $769.80 out-of-pocket expense in order to catch another flight, but also having been lied to repeatedly by United representatives who did not have the decency or courage to be forthright and explain the real reason for the cancelation.

Per the Jerusalem Post report, “United sued for delaying flight over alleged TA curfew,” August 29, 2022) the article states, “At first, the reason seemed to be that the plane’s pilots refused to fly to Israel, as evidenced by footage of the announcement at the gate shared on social media by delayed passenger Gil Eyal.  Later, United Airlines informed passengers that the delay was due to the curfew in Tel Aviv that restricted planes from landing…further confirmed on United’s website.”

The problem is that these things are easily verified, and, in this case, passenger Gil Eyal, continued to dig for the truth. After making inquiries, United told him that the flight had been canceled due to the crew’s refusal to fly. Upon attempting to contact them again, the story was changed with the “curfew” alibi despite his assuring them that no such curfew was in place. Finally, a “maintenance issue” was cited as the real reason for the cancelation, which contradicted the website’s earlier posting.

In one last-ditch attempt to justify the plane’s inability to take off, United offered their last excuse for the no-fly situation. It was bad weather, accompanied by thunderstorms, another easily verifiable condition which, in this case, was in direct contradiction to weather reports.

This was when Ilganayev, along with other flight passengers, were forced to take matters into their own hands and book alternative connections.  Unable to access their luggage, those who opted to get another flight, had to endure the tremendous inconvenience of knowing that once they landed, they would be without their needed possessions.

Of course, it goes without saying that passengers went uncompensated for meals, hotels or anything else, since, as United stated, their policy “does not offer compensation or accommodation for flights that are delayed for reasons outside their control.”  And, of course, “bad weather” falls into that category.

After having experienced a very similar situation myself, I was delighted to see that someone, who had the means, and the reason, was able to take on at least one of these airlines who have, in these post-Covid days, turned the once enjoyable flying experience into a dreaded nightmare.

Upon arrival into Boston, following a lengthy 11-hour trip from Tel Aviv, my own Delta connection to Charlotte was cancelled. Why? We were told that it was due to inclement weather. Oddly enough, though, American Airlines flew the exact same route at the exact same time. How is it possible that one airline would cancel over bad weather when another airline deems it safe enough to fly? Am I missing something?

While it’s entirely possible that the “bad weather” excuse was merely a convenient cover-up for the real reason, it also served the purpose of legitimately being able to get out of compensating all of us passengers who were about to be stranded overnight at the airport.  After all, it wasn’t their fault that Mother Nature had decided to prevent all of us from making it to our next destination!

So, although it was dinner hour, no food vouchers would be forthcoming and no hotel would be furnished for the hundreds of tired and hungry passengers who expected to be happily eating dinner with their own families after what would have been a very short trip to Charlotte.

Instead, Boston’s Logan Airport ended up looking like a homeless shelter as cots were set up throughout the ground floor – their best effort at solving the dilemma of what to do with plane loads of stranded passengers.  Of course, my flight was only one of dozens which was cancelled – a daily occurrence which has now become the norm in the world of flying.

Sadly, this is the state of travel in 2022!  Not only are you not guaranteed anything – whether it’s taking off on time, arriving at your destination on time, receiving compensation for being inconvenienced, getting your luggage or just being told the truth about why a flight is cancelled.

Doesn’t the paying public deserve to know the truth? Don’t the airlines understand that verification of claims is a relatively simple task in these days of the Internet? Do they not understand that once their claims are proven to be erroneous that it deeply injures their credibility, their reputation and our trust in their reliability as a public entity which has given a commitment to provide a quality and stable service to us all?  Do they think that by entrusting us with the truth we will respect them less?

Someone has taken on Goliath, and although those efforts may not strike a fatal blow, as in the case of the Biblical account, it may just help us to bring a bit of needed transparency and honesty – something which is seen in small measure these days but which is, nonetheless, needed and demanded.

People are generally understanding enough to comprehend that things haven’t exactly gone back to the precision operation which existed pre-Covid, but there is no need to insult the public by lying to us and lying badly, at that!

I wish the law firm of Migir Ilganayev great success as they take on the Goliath of air travel.  In many ways, they are fighting for us all, and I stand behind that effort.  May the wind be behind them as they travel full speed ahead into this justified and long-overdue fight for the public’s rights to, once again, experience competent travel as well as full disclosure in the absence of that goal!

About the Author
A former Jerusalem elementary and middle-school principal and the granddaughter of European Jews who arrived in the US before the Holocaust. Making Aliyah in 1993, she is retired and now lives in the center of the country with her husband.