Punk Rock Band Says El Al Gave Them Middle Seats After Displaying Palestinian Flag Colors

Icelandic punk rock band Hatari was flying Tel Aviv – London on El Al after performing in the ‘strictly non-political’ Eurovision Song Contest where they held banners that said “Palestine” in the colors of the Palestinian flag while voting was announced. And in a possibly related matter they wound up assigned to middle seats in the back of their aircraft.

Airport staff are reported to have said “This is what they get” as retribution for the display. Apparently their seat assignments were being discussed online before they arrived at the airport.

Whether or not you support a two state solution, the trampling of Israel, or expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank it’s probably a good idea to secure advance seat assignments when traveling on El Al or any airline to avoid being given the leftovers.

On flights between Tel Aviv and Europe El Al does charge for seat selection on ‘Lite’ fares but people are willing to pay precisely because if they don’t they may wind up with undesirable middle seats, regardless of ideology — though a screen shot of a seat map suggests other seats were still available.

If a punk band, or anyone else, is intentionally given less desirable seats as a punishment that’s deplorable, but passengers should also take a certain amount of ownership for their travel experience too.

The band performed in Israel despite previously supporting cultural boycotts of the country, which could have made them ineligible to enter the country in the first place. They did not make an issue of their seat assignments until they had left Israel.

(HT: Sexy_kitten7)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. So, Israel’s neighbor takes a bone saw to a WaPo reporter for criticizing the government. These guys show support for Israel’s “enemy” and they are welcomed onto the national airline and given a crappy seat. I’m all for freedom of expression and certainly support Palestinian rights and tend to favor a left leaning view of the Palestinian question. But, on a “big deal” scale of 0-10, this is a 0. If they wanted better seats, they should have booked better seats. I guess being an esoteric Icelandic punk band doesn’t pay what it used to.

  2. Looks like these passengers brought this upon themselves. I’ll spare you the editorial comment.

  3. What’s more disturbing is that they even made it to Eurovision with a song titled “Hate Will Prevail” and that they actually got votes.

  4. This is why whenever I’m in Germany, and ranting about how much Germans suck, and how we should have let the Russians keep the East – I ALWAYS make sure to book my seats on Lufthansa before hand.

    Not gonna let them sneaky Krauts assign me a middle seat. No sir….

  5. It’s a BDSM band that advocates hate. Knowing the tight security at ElAl they would never have made it to the plane had they not been at the Eurovision. Should consider themselves lucky. Oh and good way to get some publicity when your singing alone isn’t good enough

  6. Usually when El Al gives you a middle seat they will put a secret service guy on both sides of you to watch you. If I ever went to/from Israel I would never fly on El Al.

  7. I love it!!! Guess they should have checked their seat assignments beforehand 🙂

  8. Why would anyone who doesn’t support the occupation ever fly this joke of airline to begin with???

  9. To be clear, Eurovision was supposed to be non political yet this group broke all the rules. Then again, Eurovision was supposed to have the performance in Jerusalem, the nation’s capitol but boycotted Jerusalem, the first time Eurovision was held NOT in the host Nation’s capitol.

    I am very willing to assume the band members were seated adjacent to security sky marshalls. It does sound reasonable for the marshalls to be assigned to a passenger advocating for enemies of the nation. That would clearly explain the middle seats.
    I would always fly ELAL because of their tight security. I would not publicly advocate on behalf of terrorists and expect the security to not know that.
    I would fly ELAL. Many Arab passengers fly every day and do not get special precautions because they do not raise suspicions and do not argue. I flew LH ex FRA and intimated that the gate agent was repeating Nazi behavior by his attitude. I was told to shut up and board or face arrest.

  10. Kudos to El Al. Serves these morons right. Next time, drive to Gaza and fly home from there.

  11. Disgusting that people are actually supporting an airline who would intentionally violate passenger privacy all in the name of supporting Israel. The staff members that did this should be fired.

  12. @Donato – Don’t muddle the issue. If the band were advocating for terrorism or supporting terrorism in any way, then by all means the Israeli SECURITY should review the matter. What happened here is unprofessional behavior. The employees of El Al openly discussed, made public, and changed travel plans of specific passengers. This behavior of the El Al staff was not professional. Defend it, justify it, explain it away all you want, but the truth is the truth….

  13. Eurovision has become a farce. The ‘golden age’ was the 60s and there hasn’t been even one decent, worthy winner since the 70s ( Vicky Leandros, ‘72, ABBA in ‘74). Now it’s all discordant crap offered by zombie clones.

  14. LOL @Bill. What is really disgusting is your support for terrorism and the “religion of peace”.

  15. If my opinion is called muddling, I will continue to do so. In Italy we have freedom to speak with honesty.
    You can support or fly any airline you wish to. I read the post and missed any solid reference to violating passenger privacy. The original article had only an accusation by a member of the band’s entourage. Wearing an enemy flag, when prohibited by the rules and done on a public stage is never considered private, by the way.
    Are we now at the point where I or any Arab person can claim discrimination because seat assignments cost money and one does not like the free seat? Paid seat selection is now pushed on us as a choice and we often pay to avoid middle seats, I always do so.

  16. An example of why Israel is not a hospitable country for tourists. I’m all for the U.S. restricting immigration and preventing the hoards from bringing problems to our country. Every group of people are entitled to their own space and Palestinians just the same. It is amazing how in the last 60 years Israel forcefully took Egyptian and Jordanian land to expand its borders and took over Palestinian land. To protest the horrendous treatment of Palestinians by Israel in Palestinian territory is an act of heroism.

    It’s one thing to scrutinize people who intend on staying in a country for extended periods of time but to hassle and harass tourists like Israel does at airports and border points is ridiculous.

    Eurovision in the first place should be for European countries (and Australia because of shares genetic heritage) and it makes no sense that Israel is included in the first place.

    I wish my fellow conservatives and Christians realized that blindly supporting Israel is contrary to our own cause in the first place; just like we want our own countries and space to practice freely (free speech) the Palestinians are entitled to land that has been theirs for over a thousand years.

  17. @John Thompson. “Israel forcefully took Egyptian and Jordan land”? What an moronic comment and position. Egypt and Jordan declared war on and invaded Israel. Israel won. They lost. Guess what? Wars have consequences. Tough shit if you don’t like the result.

  18. @Donato – You first claimed this was related to security/terrorism. You now claim this is related to discrimination and payment for a seat assignment???

    It is almost *SAD* how, when confronted with the truth, you are just deny and deflect…

    So to be clear, what is NOT being disputed is that El Al employees discussed on an electronic forum customers’ travel information. This is definitely unprofessional. Depending on Israeli law it could even be illegal.

    This illustrates to the world the lack of professionalism at El Al and possibly (based on the comments on this article) Israeli companies in general.

  19. irony is the Israelis referencing the Holocaust while treating the Palestinians like the nazis treated them.

  20. @747always, please get educated about Nazi atrocities. You’re embarrassing yourself.

  21. El Al who would fly such airlines???
    Madonna displayed palestinian flag lets see if they dare punish her.

  22. This is the same band that John Oliver profiled in his “Last Week Tonight” show. What is the old saying – There is no such thing as bad publicity.

  23. The irony is that the “band” would not be allowed in the place they are protesting for (or any country in the Middle East except Israel) and if they were in the West Bank or Gaza (or any country in the Middle East except Israel) they would be, at the least, incarcerated or killed for the lifestyle the live.
    They could live happily ever after in Israel.

    Madonna had both flags, not just one.

  24. if these “artists” want star treatment, maybe they should fly on their own private jet. If middle seat in economy is good enough for Ivanka Trump, it’s good enough for these Israel-bashing, anti-Semitic nobodies.
    El Al is the official state airline of Israel, a Jewish state. If you have a problem with Israel or Jews, you should not be on the plane in the first place.

  25. Mike Feldman said. “El Al is the official state airline of Israel, a Jewish state. If you have a problem with Israel or Jews, you should not be on the plane in the first place.” Agree absolutely.

    I will go further. I find it disgusting that anti-Israel and anti-semitic sentiment is growing in Europe, the USA, and around the world.

    To be clear: What are anti-semites good for? They make New York city sewer rats look like good company.

  26. They should have drop kicked their arses right out of the plane on the tarmac then run them over with the plane!

  27. @John Thompson – Thanks for clearly articulating the bigoted, anti Israeli position. You make all anti semites proud!

  28. @ Robert Wiggins

    If it anti Semitic to present facts, criticize the Israeli treatment of Palestinians, believe Palestinians have a right to their land just like westerns have a right to Europe and the U.S., and point out the atrocities committed by the communist Soviets that killed not 6 million but 100 million that Germany was fighting, then being AS is a good thing.

  29. @donato Eurovision is not held in the capital as a rule.

    Sweden hosted in Malmo recently so your facts are wrong.

    Stop with your propaganda.

  30. What’s the difference between an anti-Semite and a sperm?
    — The sperm has a chance in a million of becoming human.

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