El Al Passenger Sets Airplane Bathroom On Fire With A Cigarette, Airline Doesn’t Inform The Police On Arrival In Bangkok


A passenger on an El Al flight from Tel Aviv to Bangkok caused quite a disruption last week when he smoked in the bathroom and then tried to cover it up by throwing the cigarette in the waste bin, which promptly burst into flames and required the crew to respond with fire extinguishers.

Crew became aware of his violation after the smoke detector sounded off, prompting the passenger to panic and hide the evidence but that made everything worse as he caused a full-blown fire on board.

The El Al flights from Tel Aviv to Bangkok continued on the original course after the crew was able to extinguish the fire and surprisingly, they never informed authorities in Thailand about the incident, meaning no police was involved and the passenger wasn’t arrested when the plane arrived.

An article in the Times of Israel (access here) says that the passenger *might* instead face legal action back home in Israel when (if) he comes back.

An Israeli passenger caused a fire on an El Al flight from Tel Aviv to Bangkok on Friday after smoking a cigarette in the plane’s bathroom and trying to put it out in the trash can, the airline said.

The fire broke out after the passenger’s cigarette butt ignited some toilet paper and tissue inside the trash can.

El Al said that flight attendants and the captains attended to the incident immediately and put out the fire with extinguishers.

“The flight continued as scheduled and landed safely at Bangkok Airport,” the airline said and added that the passenger would face legal action upon his return to Israel.

However, since no damage was caused to the plane, the airline decided not to involve local police in the matter.

To say that it didn’t cause any damage to the aircraft is quite frankly crazy coming from an airline. There was an onboard fire, and the crew had to use fire extinguishers in order to get the situation under control. What – in their interpretation – would constitute “damaging the aircraft” if causing an onboard fire isn’t enough?

There are many comments online that are rather mixed in nature, and since I’ve never flown El Al myself, I want to lean on some that sound reasonable.

One in particular calls out the airline for having a policy of not enforcing the rules, especially in regard to smoking. I find that hard to believe as I’m sure they’d tell passengers to immediately stop and then safely discard the cigarette.

What I have a much bigger problem with is that it’s apparently policy for the Israeli carrier not to report their citizens to foreign authorities for prosecution upon arrival. To simply hand this off to the legal department of El Al does what exactly? Ban the passenger and no further punishment?

This situation was extremely dangerous, and airplanes have crashed before due to fires on board. I can’t help but wonder if the passenger was of any other nationality if the airline had still kept quiet and just let the offender go his way. I highly doubt that and there is a clear double standard here.

Passengers who endanger the safety of an aircraft, other passengers or the crew should be dealt with swiftly and handed over to the authorities upon arrival. How can this be a judgment call for the company to make and simply let the offender return home to get a slap on the wrist!?


An El Al Passenger literally set the plane on fire as he tried to hide evidence of his smoking, a still glowing cigarette in the waste bin. It then set toilet paper on fire and required the crew to respond with fire extinguishers to take control of the situation.

I have always believed that El Al is a very safe airline considering their security checks before boarding the plane but their policy of dealing with passengers selectively and not handing them over to foreign authorities, in this case, doesn’t exactly instill confidence.

The offending passenger endangered basically the entire aircraft, including Thai citizens on board. I wonder what would have happened if one of them had contacted the police at BKK airport and filed a report independently from the airline. Are airlines even allowed to cover this up, or is there a reporting duty that El Al violated in this case?

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.