Travel forecasts predict busy Memorial Day weekend

May 26, 2017 18

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The Memorial Day holiday weekend traditionally marks the unofficial beginning of summer, but for those seeking to celebrate the holiday by getting out of town, the oncoming warm weather might not be the only thing making them sweat.

The weekend promises to be a busy one for travelers according to forecasts, both by road and by air.

Traffic and navigation app Waze said it typically sees an increase in traffic jams and accident alerts over the holiday weekend, particularly on Friday as drivers set off on their trips. The accident numbers are supported by data from AAA which shows the company’s roadside rescues increasing over the past four years.

In 2013, AAA made 295,000 rescues over Memorial Day weekend, climbing to 300,000 in 2014 and 310,000 in 2015. Last year they made 325,000.

AAA suggests getting your vehicle inspected before taking a long trip, packing an emergency kit with first aid supplies, tools, jumper cables, water and snacks in case you get stuck and bringing along extra keys to prevent a lockout. They note that battery issues, lockouts and flat tires comprise the top issues encountered by motorists over the holiday weekend.

As of Friday morning, the national average gas price is $2.37, according to AAA. The state with the cheapest average price is South Carolina at $2.05, while the most expensive average price is in California at $3.10.

For those travelling by air, a number of delays affected the skies on Friday. As of 3 p.m. reported over 2,500 delays within, into or out of the United States. An additional 481 flights had been cancelled.

Fliers departing from ten airports can also expect new security procedures, according to the Transportation Security Administration. In those locations, travelers will be required to remove all electronics larger than a cell phone from their carry-on luggage, for inspection. The TSA says that the change will cut down on bag checks and ultimately speed up lines.

For now, the process is being tested at the following locations:

  • Boise Airport
  • Boston Logan International Airport
  • Colorado Springs Airport
  • Detroit Metropolitan Airport
  • Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport
  • Los Angeles International Airport
  • Lubbock Preston Smith International Airport
  • Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport (San Juan)
  • McCarran International Airport (Las Vegas)
  • Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport

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Melania Trump wears $51K Dolce & Gabbana jacket in Sicily

May 26, 2017 22, Italy) — First Lady Melania Trump wore an eye-catching multicolored jacket that retails for more than $51,000 while stepping out in Sicily on Friday.

The piece was designed by Italian fashion house Dolce & Gabbana, which posted several photos of Trump arriving at the Chierici Palace City Hall of Catania on its Instagram account.

A video shows Trump donning the brightly colored coat while touring Sicily. She appeared to carry a matching clutch as well.

Trump is accompanying her husband, President Donald Trump, on his first overseas trip since taking office.

Neither Dolce & Gabbana nor the White House have responded to ABC News’ request for comment.

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US stocks close mixed ahead of holiday weekend

May 26, 2017 19

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — U.S. stocks closed mixed ahead of the holiday weekend.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 2.67 (-0.01 percent) to finish at 21,080.28.

The Nasdaq climbed 4.94 (+0.08 percent) to close at 6,210.19, and the S&P 500 finished at 2,415.82, up 0.75 (+0.03 percent) from its open. Despite the small gains, both posted new records.

Crude oil was about 2 percent higher with prices under $50 per barrel.

Winners and Losers:
  Shares of Deckers Outdoor Corporation soared nearly 19 percent after the UGG boots maker beat investors’ expectations on earnings in the first-quarter.

Despite sales beating analysts’ estimates in quarter one, Abercrombie & Fitch Co. reported a wider year-over-year loss, causing the fashion retailer’s stock to tumble 6 percent.

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CPSC warns parents to keep fidget spinners ‘away from young children’ after swallowing incidents

May 26, 2017 16

Drew Angerer/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Incidents involving a popular child’s toy known as “fidget spinners” are being investigated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission after two separate reported cases of children swallowing parts of the gadget sparked concerns.

“CPSC is investigating the incidents with kids swallowing fidget spinners in Texas and Oregon,” the agency wrote in a statement to ABC News. “We advise parents to keep these away from young children because they can choke on small parts. Warn older children not to put fidget spinners in their mouths.”

Fidget spinners are a stress-relieving toy advertised as a way to help people focus.

Scott Kollins, clinical psychologist and director of the ADHD program at Duke University, said there is no evidence to support claims of the benefits of fidget spinners.

“There has been no research into the efficacy or safety of these toys to help manage the symptoms of ADHD, anxiety, or any other mental health conditions in children (or adolescent, or adults, for that matter),” Kollins told ABC News. “The observations by parents or teachers are interesting but without carefully controlled studies, it’s impossible to draw any sorts of conclusions about whether these toys are useful, and it’s hard to imagine any sort of reasonable rationale as to why they would offer benefit.”

Mom Kelly Rose Joniec of Houston, Texas, posted an X-ray she said was taken after her 10-year-old daughter swallowed a piece of the toy. The girl had to undergo surgery to have it removed, she said.

“Our full attention and focus is on caring for our daughter and ensuring she continues to lead a healthy life,” Joniec said in a statement through Texas Children’s Hospital, where her daughter’s surgery took place.

The other case, in Oregon, involved a 5-year-old boy named Caden whose mother said he swallowed a part of the toy and choked before being rushed to the hospital. The boy’s mother, Johely Morelos, said she showed Caden a photo of the incident in Texas as a warning, but the child still tried to swallow a piece of the toy.

Morelos said Caden’s uncle bought him a fidget spinner as a gift on Amazon, which carries the toy made by multiple manufacturers.

Amazon declined ABC News’ request for comment.

Fidget spinners have three prongs attached to a circle that spin when you hold onto the center. Twirling the toy makes the prongs become a blur.

Learning Express Toys, a company that sells fidget spinners online and in store around the country, said it recommends the gadget for ages 12 and up.

“Spinners are marked as a choking hazard containing small parts,” Learning Express added in a May 18 statement to ABC News. “However, we will also be placing signs in our stores to make sure parents are aware that spinners are a potential choking hazard. As with any toy, parents must choose age-appropriate toys and use caution if their child has a tendency to put things in their mouth.”

Nancy Cowles, executive director of the nonprofit Kids in Danger, said any toy that is sold in the United States has to meet toy safety standards, but added that it would be difficult to track down the manufacturers of all fidget spinner products. Cowles also noted that children seem to be choking on the spinner toys because they are falling apart.

Learning Express Toys said that the bearings on fidget spinners should not fall out unless consumers use a tool to remove them.

Some schools are now banning the toys, not just because they may be dangerous, but because teachers see them as a distraction.

Wyandot Elementary School in Dublin, Ohio, sent parents a letter this month stating that students are no longer allowed to bring fidget spinners to school. Other schools within Dublin City school district also implemented the new rule, according to ABC affiliate WSYX-TV in Columbus.

“The district said fidget spinners have become a distraction in the classroom,” reports WSYX-TV. “Students are arguing over the spinners and get upset when theirs go missing.”

The CPSC urges consumers to report any incidents with fidget spinners to CPSC at

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The history of San Francisco’s landmark Golden Gate Bridge as it turns 80

May 26, 2017 10

iStock/Thinkstock(SAN FRANCISCO) — The time was May 1937. Franklin D. Roosevelt was president, after winning reelection to a second term. German air ship The Hindenburg had burst into flames over New Jersey, killing 35 people, and the Spanish Civil War was raging across the ocean.

The number one song on the radio was “You Can’t Take That Away From Me” by Fred Astaire and the biggest blockbuster movie that year would be Disney’s “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.”

Amidst all that, a huge infrastructure project that promised to be a feat of engineering was finally about to debut after four years of work: The Golden Gate Bridge.

Why the bridge was built

Experts at the time determined that a bridge was needed in San Francisco, since it was the largest American city still using mostly ferry boats.

Marin county across the San Francisco Bay also represented a new area where the bustling city that was running out of space could expand business and housing.

They said it couldn’t be done

But many people said building a bridge that would span the 6,700-foot strait would be impossible. That area of the bay often has sustained winds of about 60 mph, the rough, swirling waves from the Pacific Ocean below and a channel that runs 335 feet deep.

“The bridge is a symbol of hard work, determination, and most of all, the power of grit to create a better future,” Priya Clemens, director of public affairs for the Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District, told ABC News. “For decades, people said a Bridge could not be built across the Golden Gate Strait.”

“But an engineer saw a way to create this bridge, the region came together to fund it and workers put their blood sweat and tears into building it,” Clemens added. “Turning this dream into a reality opened the way for commerce and travel to expand in a way that could never have happened without the grit to push that vision forward.”

San Francisco’s city engineer Michael M. O’Shaughnessy teamed up with Joseph B. Strauss to come up with a plan for the bridge. Together, they formed a board of consultants filled with the best bridge engineers of the day from around the country.

Impressive bridge spans the strait

Construction started on Jan. 5, 1933 and didn’t finish until April 19, 1937. The product was the $35 million bridge in all its glory — completed ahead of schedule and $1.3 million under budget.

On May 27, 1937, the bridge-opening festivities began. The mayor, along with many of the engineers and some beauty queens rode in a motorcade across the roadway. On May 28, 1937, President Roosevelt pushed a button all the way across the country in Washington D.C. to allow traffic to start crossing the bridge.

Standing at 746 feet high, the 8,981-foot-long bridge consists of two main towers fixed in several tons of concrete on each end. The road is held up by two suspension cables which have 27,572 wire strands each, equal to about 80,000 miles of wire. Engineers said about 1.2 million rivets were used on the bridge.

Until 1964, the Golden Gate Bridge was the longest suspension bridge in the world when the Verrazano Narrows Bridge was opened in New York.

More than 110,000 vehicles cross the 90-foot-wide bridge daily.

The famous shade of orange-red

The color of the bridge is notable for several reasons.

The bridge’s raw steel was actually coated with a red lead primer when it was made in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. As the bridge was being assembled, one of the architects consulting did a study and found the color worked well with the landscape. The color is an orange vermilion called “international orange,” which the original committee felt it contrasted well against the sky and ocean.

“International orange” is used on more than just the Golden Gate Bridge. Many people may recognize it as a color commonly used by the aerospace industry since it distinguishes structures from their surroundings.

“[The Golden Gate Bridge’s] color that moves and molds itself into the great beauty and contours of the hill -– let me hope that the color will remain the red terracotta because it adds to the structural grace and because it adds to the great beauty and the colorful symphony of the hills —- and it is because of this structural simplicity that carries to you my message of admiration,” Italian American sculptor Beniamino Benvenuto Bufano told consulting architect of the Golden Gate Bridge, Irving Morrow.

The color and prominence against the San Francisco skyline contributes to why it’s one of the most photographed bridges in the world.

Famous site for a depressing act

But for some, the bridge is not a symbol of pride, but instead, a painful memory.

Nearly the entire time the bridge has been open, it has been a common destination for suicide. In 2016 alone, 39 people jumped from the bridge. Authorities and bystanders were able to stop 184 more from the same fate, according to Marin County.

For decades, the haunting statistics have compelled lawmakers and residents to continue searching for a deterrent that would fit the bridge’s engineering requirements. In April 2017, construction began on a $200-million stainless steel net that would surround the bridge — 20 feet below the bridge’s deck and extending 20 feet from the bridge. The bridge’s deck is about 245 feet above the water below. The netting is expected to be completed in 2021.

This net will provide a “critical second chance, maybe more than that” for those acting on “impulsive thoughts,” Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-California) said during the commemoration ceremony in April. “People would say to us, ‘Isn’t that a lot of money for a barrier? For a net?’ And I would say, ‘No it’s not a lot of money for a life. For all of these lives.'”

According to Golden Gate officials, the net will catch anyone who jumps and will be sloped and slightly collapse when a person hits it. Anyone who lands in the net will likely need assistance to get out, which will be the job of city rescue workers.

Many netting systems similar to this one have been used around the globe, but none as expansive.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Theater responds to backlash of women-only screenings of “Wonder Woman”

May 26, 2017 14

iStock/Thinkstock(AUSTIN, Texas) — The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Austin, Texas, is responding to complaints that it will host a women-only screening of Wonder Woman next week.

Some moviegoers called out the theater for separating men from women and asked if male-only screenings were in the works.

In response to the backlash, Morgan Hendrix, creative manager for the theater, told ABC News, “Providing an experience where women truly reign supreme has incurred the wrath of trolls [and] only serves to deepen our belief that we’re doing something right.”

She continued, “As a result, we will be expanding this program across the country and inviting women everywhere to join us as we celebrate this iconic superheroine in our theaters,” which include cities like New York and Denver.

The fuss began Wednesday, when the Alamo Drafthouse sent out a press release announcing a women-only screening of Wonder Woman, which hits theaters next Friday. The film, directed by Patty Jenkins, stars Gal Gadot as the iconic superhero.

“Apologies, gentlemen, but we’re embracing our girl power and saying ‘No Guys Allowed’ for one special night at the Alamo Ritz. And when we say “People Who Identify As Women Only,” we mean it. Everyone working at this screening — venue staff, projectionist, and culinary team — will be female,” according to the release.

The demand was so high that the theater added a second screening for just women. That’s when the theater was bombarded with complaints on social media.

“I love Alamo Drafthouse and watch all my movies with y’all (and still will), but separating any group from another is very odd,” one man wrote on Facebook. Other comments shared similar sentiments about separation.

Alamo Drafthouse defend the decision on Facebook, writing, “Very sorry if you feel excluded. We thought it might be kinda fun — for one screening — to celebrate a character who’s meant a great deal to women for close to eight decades. Again, truly, truly, truly, truly sorry that we’ve offended you. These screenings are just a way to celebrate the character and how important she’s been to women over the last eight decades.”

But on a lighter note, the theater had fun in some of its replies.

One man asked if the theater ever hosted a men-only night, to which the theater responded, “We’ve never done showings where you had to be a man to get in, but we *did* show the Entourage movie a few years ago.”

After another person suggested doing “a special screening for IT that’s only for those who identify as clowns,” Alamo again responded with snark, “We might actually have to steal that clown idea. Thanks.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Apps that help find refunds after a purchase

May 26, 2017 17

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Don’t you hate it when you buy something and then you find out a few weeks later it’s been discounted? We all hate feeling like we overpaid.

The good news is there are two apps that can help you with that: Earny and Paribus.

Earny: Good for those with Chase and Citi credit cards

Many credit cards offer price protection: if the price of the item you purchased goes down within 90 days of when you bought it, the credit card company will refund you the difference. This sounds great in theory, but who has the time to crosscheck current prices against their credit card statements?

That’s where Earny comes in. Once you download the app, you give it permission to access your credit card account online. It combs through all your purchases for 90 days. If it notes a discrepancy between what you paid and current pricing, Earny does the heavy lifting of submitting a request for a refund from the credit card company.

ABC News tried out the app, and since installing, it has acquired $84 in refunds from a book that went down in price by $4 and a board game that has been discounted $6.17.

Currently, Earny only covers Chase and Citibank credit cards and they charge a 25 percent fee for all refunds they secure.

Earny’s founder Oded Vakrat says, “The average Earny user receives more than $300 back per year on their purchases … It usually takes two to five days to start seeing refunds from the moment you register to Earny. Some users see refunds within hours, since Earny can look as far back as 90 days to find those old purchase you may have overpaid on.”

Paribus: Good for those that don’t have Chase or Citi cards or who pay for a lot of expedited shipping

Paribus accesses your purchase history through your email inbox. It looks through your messages to find purchase receipts. It also watches any price fluctuations and will submit a refund request on your behalf if it sees a drop, but it has a new feature that’s even more genius. It tracks shipping times so that if a package is delivered later than promised, Paribus submits a request for a refund. Paribus uses your inbox to access receipts so it’s not limited to any one credit card company, but they too charge a 25 percent fee on any refunds they claim for you.

Both of these apps are granted access to your personal information and credit cards. So ABC News reached out to the both Paribus and Earny to ask how they use user’s data. Both companies say they do not share data with marketers.

“Paribus reviews the contents of email only from merchant accounts that customers choose to link to the service,” Paribus said in a statement. “Paribus uses this information to identify savings opportunities for our customers only. We do not sell or use data for any other purpose.”

Earny CEO Oded Vakrat said, “Earny doesn’t access any data from credit card transactions. Instead, we get the necessary information to protect your purchases from emailed receipts. We do not share any personal information and it is not in our interest to do so. Our mission at Earny, is to protect consumers from overpaying and to get them money back when prices drop on items they’ve purchased. By doing so, we give consumers the confidence to shop knowing that they will always pay the best price. Our customers’ trust in Earny is key!”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

US stocks close higher with sixth straight day of gains

May 25, 2017 21

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — It a sixth straight day of gains on Wall Street, with both the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 closing at new records.

The Nasdaq added 42.23 (+0.69 percent) to close at 6,217.34, and the S&P 500 finished at 2,415.07, up 10.68 (+0.44 percent) from its open.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 70.53 (+0.34 percent) to finish at 21,082.95, putting it nearly 30 point away from its March 1 record.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

BBB issues nationwide warning about Payless Car Rental

May 25, 2017 19

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — The Better Business Bureau is issuing a nationwide warning to customers about Payless Car Rental, a major car rental company found at airports across the country.

The BBB says it has received more than 800 complaints about Payless in the past three years and has given the company an “F” rating. Now the organization is urging attorney generals in four states — California, Florida, Oklahoma and New Jersey — to investigate Payless and its parent company, Avis.

“They have sales practice issues and contract issues and billing issues with consumers,” Amie Mitchell, president of the BBB serving Eastern Oklahoma, told ABC News correspondent Gio Benitez.

Questions about fees are a major part of a proposed class-action lawsuit filed against Payless after unhappy customers launched a Facebook group claiming they were charged for services they said they didn’t want.

Greg Kohn, one of the lawyers who filed the lawsuit, told ABC News, “Payless has used deceptive business practices in order to lure customers into their shop to rent their vehicles. They use low rates online to get people to use them over other rental agencies, but when you get there they slam you with additional fees.”

One of the lawsuit’s plaintiffs, Richard Alexander, a police officer, says he rented a car from Payless in Las Vegas for a six-day family vacation with an online quote of $217 from a third-party website. He says he walked to the counter wearing a police officer shirt and badge. “The gentleman that waited on us thanked me for my service and offered me a free upgrade,” Alexander told ABC News. “I specifically asked him, ‘It’s going to be $217, right?’ I was told yes. I told him, ‘I’m covered under my own insurance.’ And I believe he was told two or three times I do not need this.”

Alexander says he initialed the agreement expecting to pay a total of $217. But when he returned the vehicle, the total was $528 and included, among other things, insurance and roadside service protection, charges he says he didn’t want.

ABC News Producers rents 4 cars: 1 found with ‘dangerous’ tires

ABC News producers rented four cars from Payless locations in New York and in New Jersey and had them inspected by Audra Fordin of Great Bear Auto and Body Shop in Flushing, New York. Three of the four cars passed her standard inspection. But when Fordin inspected the car rented from the Payless location at John F. Kennedy International Airport, she told ABC News that all four tires were bald and “dangerous.” She also found holes and called one tire “a blowout waiting to happen.”

ABC News called Payless, which had the car towed. The manager apologized and offered a full refund.

Loss damage waiver insurance included in ABC News Producers’ bill

But that’s not all ABC News encountered while renting from Payless. With the two cars producers rented from the LaGuardia and JFK Airport offices, we got exactly what we reserved online, economy cars with no fees for added services. But when producers went to the Newark Liberty International Airport Payless car rental location, specifically asking for a car with no extra charges, they were given a contract that included a $29 per day charge for loss damage waiver insurance. When producers asked the Payless representative about the charge, they were told, “You accepted the total. It comes with it.” But the contract producers were given states in two different places that loss damage waiver insurance is optional. Producers were also charged $5.99 per day for Roadside Service Protection. The Roadside Service Plan appears to be optional on Payless’ website.

When returning the rental car to the Newark office, producers asked about the loss damage waiver insurance. They were told if the insurance was taken off, the rate would have gone up. “You take the insurance, you get a cheaper rate. If you don’t, your rate is even three times higher,” said the Payless representative. The manager told producers they got a deal. “It’s all included in the price under the manager’s special when the client doesn’t have a reservation.”

Payless declined ABC News’ repeated requests for an interview. Instead, the company sent this statement: “We are concerned about any negative rental experiences that you may have had at Payless. We always strive to provide customers with a positive rental experience, and we take customer feedback seriously. We are investigating your concerns with your experiences to ensure that our employees’ statements and conduct always remain consistent with our policies and procedures. The tire problem you described is highly unusual. Safety is a top priority, and we have followed up with the supervisor at that location. While we were encouraged to hear that the Payless employee you spoke with moved quickly to tow the car and provide a refund, we will continue to emphasize and enforce our stringent safety protocols company wide.”

Consumer tips before renting a car

The following tips were provided by the BBB to ABC News. Click here for more terms and information on how to file a complaint.

1. Call several firms to find out if the car you want is available and at what price. Rental companies vary widely in their prices. Make sure you are comparing similar sizes, types, locations, and dates.
2. Inquire about required fees such as fuel or airport fees and additional costs which may affect the price you pay. A deposit may be required if you do not have a credit card.
3. Make a reservation, if possible, as unreserved rentals may cost more. Also, call to confirm your reservation, so to be certain that the car will be available when you arrive.
4. Read the contract before you sign it. Most firms have written their contracts in plain language for all to comprehend.
5. Check the car before driving away. Be sure that any dents or scratches are noted in the contract, so that you will not be charged for damaging the car.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

What happens when a man on a flight says he can’t sit next to a woman

May 25, 2017 22

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Renee Rabinowitz was all set up in her business-class seat on El Al Flight 28, which would take more than 10 hours to get her from Newark, New Jersey, to Tel Aviv, Israel, when she was asked to move.

According to a group representing Rabinowitz, before departure, a flight attendant offered her another seat at the front of the section. Rabinowitz accepted but later questioned why she was asked to switch seats. Members of the flight crew would not answer her. So she approached the man who would have been next to her if she kept her seat.

The ultra-Orthodox Jewish man assigned to the next seat did not want to sit next to her, as his interpretation of Jewish law forbade him from even inadvertent physical contact with a woman, according to Rabinowitz’s representatives.

Rabinowitz, an 81-year-old retired Holocaust survivor, said she felt wronged from the December 2015 incident, less personally than as a woman, according to the Israel Religious Action Center, the legal arm of a liberal religious advocacy group in Israel.

The IRAC is representing Rabinowitz in her Israeli lawsuit against El Al, Israel’s national airline, accusing it of discrimination.

Although El Al Airlines did not respond to ABC News’ multiple requests for comment, after the incident, an El Al spokesperson told The New York Times that that “any discrimination between passengers is strictly prohibited.”

“El Al flight attendants are on the front line of providing service for the company’s varied array of passengers,” the statement said. “In the cabin, the attendants receive different and varied requests, and they try to assist as much as possible, the goal being to have the plane take off on time and for all the passengers to arrive at their destination as scheduled.”

Steven Beck, the IRAC’s deputy director, said that what happened to Rabinowitz happens on the New York to Tel Aviv route on a weekly basis and possibly even more often during Jewish holidays.

He suggested that airlines often make accommodations based on gender discrimination but that racial discrimination is similarly illegal and never accommodated.

“If somebody said, ‘I refuse to sit next to a man who is black,’ I imagine they would be taken off the plane,” Beck told ABC News.

An increasing number of passengers have shared their stories with U.S. and Israeli media of dust-ups with ultra-Orthodox Jewish men trying to abide by their interpretations of Jewish law and women saying they are standing up for their civil rights.

According to The New York Times, Laura Heywood, 42, was flying to London when she was asked to swap her middle seat with her husband so a man with the window seat could sit next to him instead.

In a time when people feel increasingly motivated to seize opportunities to take a stand for their beliefs, she refused.

Her husband prefers the aisle seat in order to alleviate some of the stress of flying, and “I wasn’t going to put [the other man’s] comfort for no good reason above my husband’s,” she told The Times.

The IRAC views this as a civil rights issue and tried to put up advertisements at El Al’s gates at Newark Liberty International Airport urging women not to give up their seats and, if asked, to demand to know why. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey denied that request.

The Port Authority told the IRAC that the proposed signs did not adhere to its advertising requirements, according to a letter obtained by ABC News. Advertisements at Newark Liberty International Airport are limited to promoting an item or service, attending an event or soliciting charitable contributions, the letter states.

Efforts in the United States and Israel have surfaced urging the airlines to refrain from making such accommodations, including a petition and a spoof video titled “The In-Flight Safety Video El Al Should Show.”

The airlines find themselves in a difficult spot, trying to balance their commitment to respecting people’s religious beliefs and avoiding accusations of tolerating gender discrimination.

Airlines for America, the industry’s leading U.S. trade group, declined to comment on this story.

Two airline officials from major U.S.-based air carriers, who spoke to ABC News on the condition of anonymity, said that some similar incidents occur on flights in or out of Muslim-majority nations but that the vast majority occur on flights in or out of Israel.

Spokespeople for multiple carriers out of Muslim-majority countries did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment.

In 2014 the U.K.-based Independent reported that a group of ultra-Orthodox Jewish men refused to sit next to women and held up a flight from New York to Tel Aviv.

The men, according to The Independent, eventually agreed to sit in their assigned seats for departure but “jumped out” once the fasten-seat-belt sign was turned off.

Another passenger described the disturbance as an “11-hour-long nightmare.”

Samuel Goldman, the executive director of George Washington University’s Loeb Institute for Religious Freedom, suggested such a dramatic series of events is likely the exception rather than the rule.

“Most ultra-Orthodox Jews are not interested in imposing their will on others or creating problems,” said Goldman. “I don’t deny that problems emerge, and I’m sure some of these stories are true, but I wonder how common they really are.”

Goldman said that airlines should make clear what accommodations they will and will not provide in their terms of service and that passengers should try to accommodate others’ religious beliefs. “I would encourage, to the greatest degree possible, that people confronted with these requests to be tolerant,” he said.

“Unless you have a specific reason,” he said, “be a mensch. Why not help out?”

Goldman said it is unlikely that ultra-Orthodox Jewish men are unaware that their gender norms are atypical in the U.S. and that it is more likely that some Americans see the requests as “tyrannical.”

He urged passengers to be tolerant and said that the ultra-Orthodox Jewish men are just trying to live in accordance with their interpretation of Jewish law.

One of the airline officials who spoke to ABC News said ultra-Orthodox Jewish men who frequently travel typically know to request such a seat accommodation when they book their flight. In such cases, the airline does its best to accommodate them but cannot guarantee that it will.

In the event that a man makes such a request after he boards, the airline seeks a solution but does not force anyone to move. In the vast majority of cases, someone voluntarily switches seats, and the flight proceeds without delay, according to the two officials.

Hamilton Morris, a journalist from New York, agreed to switch with a Hasidic Jewish man on his flight who was assigned to a seat between two women — although he said he wasn’t thrilled to move to a middle seat.

Some men refuse to even speak to a female flight attendant, requiring the crew to find a male staff member to negotiate a solution and resulting in long delays.

That was the case in a 2016 incident on a United Airlines flight reported by The Orange County Register. Mary Campos, 47, from Orange County in California said she was given a new seat assignment right before boarding her United flight because, according to United worker, “the two men who have been assigned next to her have cultural beliefs that prevent them from being near or talking to a woman,” the paper wrote.

The Register reported that the men were Buddhist monks and that an attendant on the flight told Campos at the time that she was insulted. “You’d be surprised at some of the stuff we have to put up with.”

According to local media reports at the time, United Airlines released a statement on the incident, saying, “We regret that Ms. Campos was unhappy with the handling of the seat assignments on her flight. United holds our employees to the highest standards of professionalism and has zero tolerance for discrimination.”

United Airlines did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment.

Sara Nelson, the international president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, told ABC News that while it is respectful of different cultures and religions, “A plane is not a public space.”

“An individual’s religious preference cannot overrule or impede the safety and rights of everyone on board,” she said. She added that, regardless of their customs, passengers must heed flight attendants’ instructions. “In other words, this case requires the man to recognize the woman in charge.”

It’s unclear how often airline passengers request seat changes because of their religious beliefs and how often customers complain about such requests.

The U.S. Department of Transportation, Airlines for America and their international aviation counterparts do not keep such statistics.

Discrimination complaints reported to the Department of Transportation regarding domestic and foreign air carriers have generally declined since 2011. In 2016 the DOT reported 94 discrimination complaints against domestic and foreign carriers, making up 0.5 percent of complaints against air carriers. In 2011 discrimination complaints made up 1.1 percent of airline complaints to the DOT.

DOT data indicate El Al Airlines received only one discrimination complaint from 2012 to 2016. El Al data were not available for 2011.

DOT spokeswoman Caitlin Harvey told ABC News that federal law prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex or ancestry. She did not say if the aforementioned events violated federal law.

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