By Yair Hoffman

THE DETAILS

They were finally let out at 4:45 AM on Sunday morning. 

El Al Flight 008 was supposed to leave at 11:50 PM from Terminal 4 on Motzai Shabbos.  Boarding started at 11:00 PM.  The flight experienced engine trouble on its Boeing Dreamliner 787 – a relatively new plane and was cancelled – rescheduled for Sunday night at 2:50 AM.

In the beginning the passengers were told that the plane was one big computer and the problem will be easily resolved through scans.  The captain gave an update slightly later, that the scans did not resolve the problem and that a technical team would soon arrive.

The flight was filled with Chassidim, Yeshiva students, seminary girls and yes, mothers with crying babies.  One woman had had a surgery scheduled in Israel on Monday morning.  

The El Al staff was extremely nice. They maintained composure throughout the ordeal and dealt with personal issues – one by one.  The luggage was also removed from the plane in record time.  

The flight was rescheduled to Monday early morning at 2:50 AM. Passengers were notified as to the new flight information by email.

THE LAW

The law is that passengers who are kept on the tarmac for more than 4 hours on an international flight must be additionally compensated by the airline. Although by no means is this information certain, it seems that the compensation amounts to about 2000 NIS in these cases, about $611 extra.

THE HALACHIC QUESTION

What if Reuvain sent Shimon, his employee, to Israel on this flight to do some work?  Who is entitled to the compensation?  

The Gemorah in Kesuvos 98b discusses a case where a person sent his employee to purchase certain fruits.  The vendor gave the employee a gift of additional fruits.  The halacha is that if there is no set price on the value of the fruits – then the employer receives the fruits. If there is a set value then the fruits belong to both the employer and the employee.  There is a debate among the Rishonim as to the reason why it would belong to both of them.  Is it because there is a doubt as to what the vendor had in mind, so they must split it?  Or perhaps it belongs to the employee but the gift only came to him because of the employer – they must split it?

The Ramah on Choshain Mishpat 163:6 writes that when the seller stipulates that it belongs to the employee, then it certainly belongs to him.  That would seem to be the case here, because the law which demands compensation is clearly written for the pain and suffering that the passenger experienced.

The TaZ, however, disagrees with the ruling of the Ramah.  Apparently, he gives weight to the fact that it would not have happened were it not for the employer.

This author is of the opinion that the money certainly goes to the employee because the case with the excess fruit does not involved actual compensation for suffering.  The suffering was only experienced by the employee and not the employer and the funds clearly belong to the employee.  However, as in all cases, the employee should check with his own Rav or Posaik.

The author can be reached at yairhoffman2@gmail.com

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