On Monday May 20th, the Icelandic punk band Hatari traveled from Tel Aviv to London after performing at the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest. Much to their surprise, they had been given the worst seats on the El Al Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.
The middle seats
The incident became public when an individual on Facebook posted photos he took of a screen at the airport. The photos show the three band members’ names and their assigned seats, as well as the locations on a seat map of the El Al 787. Along with the posted photos the Facebook user writes:
“EL AL‘s ground crew bragging about assigning the worst seats (middle seats and separated) on the aircraft to the Icelandic band Hatari, stating that ‘this is what they get’ for protesting against the Israeli occupation and violation of human rights. #eurovision2019”
The seats for the three band members, as you can see, were seats: 56F, 57F, and 58F.
Hatari drummer Einar Hrafn Stefánsson then shared the Facebook post on his account along with a little note to El Al.
When questioned about the incident, Felix Bergsson, Hatari’s press representative said:
“Undeniably, I found this disturbing, and I’m not pleased with this kind of conduct,”
This entire incident stems from the Hatari performance at the Eurovision Song Contest. Their specific performance took place on Saturday May 18th as part of the Grand Final Show.
— Harvey Thomas (🍞&🌹) (@NotHarveyDent) May 20, 2019
In the show, Hatari can be seen holding up banners showing the word “Palestine” and the colours of their flag during a voting announcement. Upon this sight, cameras quickly cut away.
It is a big enough offense to pull off this clearly political act at a high-profile, internationally televised event, let alone one that should be strictly non-political. But pulling off the stunt in Israel is a whole new level of… shall we say…’chutzpah’. NME reports that the band will likely face consequences for their actions.
It’s not surprising that something happened to the band after their actions. However, many would say that the retaliatory “stunt” pulled by El Al ground crew was unprofessional.
Formal complaint to follow
According to the Iceland Monitor, the band’s press representative has said the group will look into the incident and consider next steps.
“Whether that happens through Icelandair, which booked the flight, or others, we’ll have to see,”
Bergsson added that a complaint may be made with El Al directly.
According to The Times of Israel, when Hatari’s members finally made their arrival at Iceland’s Keflavik airport Monday night, they were greeted by pro-Palestinian activists. Maybe if the band makes the same trip again they can fly with Virgin Atlantic.
What do you think? Were the ground crew of El Al acting unprofessionally? As the incident stems from the question of Israel and Palestine, this may be a difficult question to answer without getting super political… but, give it a try!