Monday, March 23, 2009

An Upset Victory for Mediocrity

The Forward writes on ultra-Orthodox pressure on El Al to run flights more accommodating to their religious sensibilities. The big sticking point at the moment is in-flight movies, which the rabbinate deems too secular and "immodest". El Al so far refuses to budge, so a group of rabbis released a guide to super-kosher flying. And here's the irony: it appears the way to attract an ultra-orthodox Jewish clientele is to suck at your job:
Meanwhile, airlines that are widely regarded as offering poor customer service — one symptom of which is the absence of in-flight movies — are highly recommended by the guide, and are likely to experience heightened popularity among Haredi travellers in coming weeks.

For domestic flights within the United States, US Airways is movie-free and therefore deemed the most kosher. The airline ranked last in the 2008 American Customer Satisfaction Index, a survey of airlines conducted by the University of Michigan.

For European travel, the no-frills approach of state airlines of post-communist countries strikes a chord with the rabbis. They endorse Poland’s LOT and Ukraine’s Aerosvit Airlines, which is ranked as “poor” by the Official Airline Star Ranking run by aviation consultancy Skytrax.

Travelers to Britain are urged to choose British Midland Airways, which shows no movies except on Tuesdays. On Tuesdays the guide suggests that travelers request to be seated in one of the 36 seats between rows 7 and 11, where there is an obstructed view of the screens.

I'd reference the old Jewish joke ("Why did God create Gentiles? Someone has to buy retail!") except that elsewhere in the article the super-observant Jews are quoted as saying they'd pay more for fewer amenities (or as they put it, an "appropriate environment").

Between these guys and Madoff, Jews are at risk of losing our reputation as being wise with money. Somebody page Tommy Thompson, quick!

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