Niche marketing in the travel industry, up to now primarily
associated with cutting-edge-type agents and operators, is about to
spread to the airline industry.
Airbus, the European consortium currently competing with Boeing
to supply El Al Israel Airlines with new planes, has come up with
what it hopes is the ultimate custom-design feature: on-board
El Al officials say they are intrigued, if not yet sold on the
sky-temples, which would seat about a dozen people and would
feature a revolving holy ark designed with a built-in compass for
worshippers who wish to face Jerusalem throughout their flight.
In the "70s, those 747s with the upstairs piano lounges were the
last word in in-flight luxury. As we approach the millennium,
on-board houses of worship are making an appearance. It's tempting
to interpret this as a high-tech manifestation of the importance of
religion in daily life, a logical next step following the big
group-hug we're giving to spirituality of late, and maybe it
But it's also feasible that the decision to put synagogues in
the sky is simply a cunning marketing ploy that uses faith to sell
airplanes. The truth is it doesn't really matter. All that counts
is whether or not the idea flies. That's business.