Misinformation spreads confusion about Israeli flight restrictions

United Airlines cancels three flights but headlines shout that it “cancels all flights to Israel” amid coronavirus travel rule chaos.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

United Airlines announced Monday it had canceled three flights to Israel, but in the fog of flip flop announcements of restrictions on air travel to Israel, the message got badly distorted, causing some agencies to report the airline had canceled all of its flights to the country.

With national elections to be held in two weeks, the government had little choice other than to allow tens of thousands of Israelis to return home from abroad in order to vote on March 23.

As of Sunday, the government allowed daily flights from New York, Frankfurt, London and Paris, but starting with only 1,000 passengers a day and expanding to 3,000 per day later in the week.

Those restrictions forced United to cut back three flights, as the airline received permission to operate only 20 flights a month to Israel, including a daily round-trip flight with passengers, Globes reported. To meet the restrictions, United had to cancel three weekly flights planned beyond the approved schedule, despite the large demand from passengers to depart and enter the country.

“United operates in accordance with the outline and guidelines set by the authorities in the State of Israel and in full cooperation with them,” the company said in a statement reported by Globes.

However, the canceled three flights were misread and resulted in one website using the headline “United Airlines cancels all flights to Israel due to country’s travel rules,” which quickly spread on social media.

“No, United Isn’t Cancelling All Of Their Flights To And From Israel Through March 20th, Despite News To The Contrary,” tweeted the discount ticket seller DansDeals.

The cancellations did leave hundreds of Israeli passengers on those three flights temporarily in limbo.

“I thought I was in the clear when Israel opened the skies, turns out United cancelled my flight that I booked in December WITHOUT telling me (I only found out when I called),” tweeted passenger Marissa Posner. “The agent then proceeded to lie to me for 2 hours & is refusing to transfer me to someone else who can help.”