We were on this flight. We’re still in the States. It’s been a rough few days, though Shabbat was very nice. Just want to get home, though.
There was a rumor that the plane turned around because there was a chance it would land on Shabbat, and the Satmar Rebbe was threatening another boycott. I don't know how this rumor got started, but it's untrue. There were many religious people on the flight, and nobody refused to get on because it would land too close to Shabbat (and a number of us would have if it had gotten too late). I don't know the whole story, and it is quite possible that they realized that they wouldn't make it (i was watching the 'land speed' display, and the plane wasn't going nearly fast enough to have shortened the trip to 9 hours; to do that would have required an average speed of about 667mph, and we were going about 450) before shabbat, so they just turned around themselves rather than face boycotts, etc. they could have then blamed it on technical difficulties. i doubt, though, that any religious figure called that final shot. the decision was made from the air.