Skip To Content
Get Our Newsletter
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe

El Al Cracks Down on Israelis With Punctuality Problems

Last week, I went to meet a certain Israeli politician. Her assistant telephoned a few minutes before the scheduled meet time. “Are you on your way?” she asked. “Yes, as scheduled,” I replied, matter-of-factly. She continued her interrogation: “Er, are you going to be on time?”

Why wouldn’t I? Were the roads blocked by her office? Is there a security closure. No. Then it dawned on me — this is just Israel, where punctuality seems to be more of the exception than the rule. So implausible to this assistant was the simple answer that I would arrive as arranged, that she continued her questioning — how was I getting there? What was my precise location? In the end, the only way to reassure her was to say: “Look, I’m British — I grew up being on time.”

When I walked in to the office, the assistant’s colleague greeted me. “You’re British, I heard you would be punctual,” she said, looking at me as if I’m an exotic specimen of human being.

After this strange realization about just how ingrained in Israeli culture lateness has become, I found myself applauding El Al yesterday when I read that it has, at last, started cracking down on the many passengers who think that their duty free shopping is more important than the small matter of scheduled take-off times. The airline has stopped holding flights for people who turn up at the gate late. It has indulged late passengers for too long.

Who knows, maybe as people start missing planes El Al will affect something of a national culture change.

By the way, the politician I went to meet walked in 20 minutes late.

Engage

  • SHARE YOUR FEEDBACK

  • UPCOMING EVENT

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free under an Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives Creative Commons license as long as you follow our republishing guidelines, which require that you credit Foward and retain our pixel. See our full guidelines for more information.

To republish, copy the HTML, which includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline, and credit to Foward. Have questions? Please email us at help@forward.com.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.