Most of our readers are no doubt aware of the recent fiasco involving El Al, Israel’s national airline. It seems that – through no fault of the popular carrier – on August 6, a computer glitch on a number of travel company websites offered airfare tickets from the United States to Israel via El Al – usually as high as $1600 – for the shockingly low price of around $300.
While the mistaken offer was available for just a few hours until it was discovered by airline officials and pulled, more than 5,000 tickets were sold during that brief time window.
In the immediate aftermath of the headline-grabbing error, El Al officials mulled over their choices of how to respond. Obviously, they would have been well within their legal rights to declare that they were not responsible for the mistake, as they had never authorized such cut-rate prices and could not possibly control the content of websites that are out of their official domain. They could have taken “the easy way out,” and simply informed the public that the tickets would not be valid.
But – in keeping with their excellent reputation for customer service and top professional standards – El Al took the high road, and announced that they would honor every single mistakenly priced ticket. As a result, five thousand anxious customers breathed a sigh of relief and gained a new level of respect for the Israeli airline. The Jewish Voice has in fact learned that special credit for El Al’s magnanimous response goes to the airline’s Vice President and General Manager, Danny Saadon. It seems that at first, members of El Al’s management were worried about the financial hit they would take if they allowed the sale of such bargain basement airfares to go through, and they were thus leaning towards the decision not to honor the tickets. But Saadon – who has held high-level managerial positions at El Al for more than four decades and currently oversees all operations for El Al throughout North and Central America – did not want to see so many customers walk away disappointed, and he convinced his fellow higher-ups to decide in favor of the paying public.
Throughout his illustrious career at the airline, Saadon has proved his mettle time and again. He was in charge of airport operations during such seminal events as the 1976 Israeli raid on Entebbe to free Jewish hostages, the rescue of Israelis from revolutionary Iran two years later, and Operation Solomon, which involved the covert Israeli rescue of 15,000 Ethiopian Jews. Now – in a less dramatic but nevertheless important scenario – Saadon has employed his considerable talents for the benefit of numerous friends of the Jewish state.
El Al used to have an advertising slogan that stated, “Come to Israel…Come stay with friends.” By doing the right thing and honoring thousands of unexpectedly cheap tickets, Israel’s airline has proven once again that it is a true friend of its customers.