Sorry it's taken me so long. My carefully worded (links and all) description of our plane ride here is on my iBook, which can't, at this time, hook up. But here's the story in a nutshell.
The El Al flight out of NY was PACKED. If they offered seats on the wings, I think people would have taken them. And not just business travellers, but entire families, too. Kids flying unescorted - old abbas and imas in wheelchairs, young students and old rabbis, the two of us and half a dozen clowns.
Floppy shoes, red noses that honked, big hats with chickens on 'em - yep, clowns. No facial make-up, though, and all wacky light-up glasses, fake buck teeth and day-glo moustashes had to be removed for the "no, I can't take a joke" El Al security. But the garish cowboy shirts, loose pants with rainbow suspenders and squirting flowers stayed on.
Of course, they sat in front of us. This will providw me with a lifetime of jokes about how I always end up sitting next to some clown on the plane, right?