Flying with Israelis and with Japanese

Flying from Tel Aviv through Frankfurt to Tokyo this week, I was on two Lufthansa flights on the same day. So same environment: same airline, same crew (not the actual people of course) and same service.

The main difference between the two flights was that most of the passengers on the Tel Aviv-Frankfurt flights were Israelis while most of the passengers on the Frankfurt-Tokyo flight were Japanese. The other difference was the duration of the flight: 3.5 hours for the first flight vs. 10.5 hours for the second.

For the sake of brevity, let’s call them the “Israeli flight” and the “Japanese flight” accordingly. Here below are some observations about my experiences on these two flights. Keep the above differences in mind and draw your own conclusions:

  • On the Israeli flight, 10 minutes after the “boarding completed” announcement (i.e. all passengers on board) was made, people were still fumbling with their bags and standing in the aisles. On the Japanese flight, everybody was seated.
  • Throughout the Israeli flight, except for take-off and landing (first and last 20 minutes of the flight), most of the aisles and the area near the galleys were blocked by people standing and talking to each other. On the Japanese flight, the aisles were free throughout the flight except for the occasional person hurrying to/from the bathroom.
  • The one time I needed the bathroom on the Israeli flight I had to wait in line for 5 minutes. The three times I needed the bathroom on the Japanese flight I never waited.
  • The bathroom I frequented on the Israeli flight had paper towels on the floor and the toilet was not flushed by the previous user(s). The bathrooms I used on the Japanese flight were spotless (there might have been some water drops near the basin, I’m not sure).
  • I sat near the galley (exit row on both flights). Throughout the Israeli flight I kept hearing the “ping” sounds that warn the flight attendants that someone pushed the call button. I never heard one “ping” on the Japanese flight.
  • As the plane was approaching the gate, and upon hearing the pursar utter the words “flight attendants, all doors in park”, almost all passengers on the Israeli flight jumped from their seats and dove for the overhead compartments to fetch their bags. Needless to say, the “fasten seat belts” sign was still on. On the Japanese flight nobody moved before the “fasten seat belts” sign was off.

As I said, draw your own conclusions…


4 thoughts on “Flying with Israelis and with Japanese

  1. Natalie: I agree with you that Israelis are usually very cooperative in crisis situations (e.g. your nauseating ride). The real question is how they behave in a normal, day-to-day, non-crisis situations (e.g. an uneventful plane ride). Life is mostly crisis-free.

  2. I was on a monit shirut from Beer Sheva to Rechovot and during the ride, I began to feel nauseous. At one of the stops, I got out even though I had already paid for the entire ride, and told the driver to just continue on, I needed to just sit and breathe air.

    One passenger helped me out of the van to sit on a bench, another jumped out and bought me a pastry and bottle of water, and the driver insisted that it was okay to wait several minutes until I felt better.

    We all sat for 10 minutes, I felt better, and we continued on to Rehovot.

    Pushy? Yes. Loud? Yes.

    But I wouldn’t have them any other way.

  3. Alas, I don’t know what conclusions to draw — except to say that the Israelis acted in a chaotic way and the Japanese in a disciplined way. In the end, both groups of people have thriving cultures and societies. I can’t help but wonder: Which kind of society would we want to live in? One that is freewheeling and pushy or one that is restrained and hyper-organized?

  4. Pingback: Japan Earthquake Aftermath – Cont. « Nafka Mina

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