A group of Orthodox Jewish schoolgirls were booted from a Delta Air Lines at Amsterdam Schipol Airport on Friday morning allegedly because they were eating their own Kosher food outside of the mealtime set by Delta.
Armed police escorted the group of 18 young girls from the New York JFK bound aircraft over allegations that they had broken strict Coronavirus health measures by removing their face masks to eat their own food.
According to Israeli news outlets, the girls were part of a larger group of 50 Orthodox Jewish passengers who were traveling from Ukraine to New York City with Dutch airline KLM with a short stopover in Amsterdam to connect onto a Delta Air Lines flight.
After boarding their connecting in Amsterdam, some of the group started eating their own food but failed to stop when flight attendants pointed out that they were apparently not allowed to eat outside of designated mealtimes and should put their face masks back on.
According to Delta Air Lines, the girls refused to comply with flight attendant instructions and were therefore removed from the flight. Delta flight DL47 departed Amsterdam over two hours late on Friday due to the incident and the Airbus A330 aircraft didn’t arrive in JFK until 2:14 pm.
Once escorted off the aircraft by police, ground agents refused to rebook the group onto another flight that would have got them into New York before the start of Shabbat.
The group were transferred to Antwerp by a local Jewish charity to spend Shabbat amongst an Orthodox Jewish community.
The U.S. federal face mask mandate makes it a legal requirement for all airline passengers aged two and over to wear a face mask on U.S.-bound flights and on U.S.-registered aircraft. However, passengers are allowed to remove their face masks under certain limited circumstances including to eat and drink.
The mandate does not specify that food and drink should only be consumed at designated times. In this case, the girls were apparently eating Kosher food prepared under very strict guidelines which would not have been available during the normal service provided by Delta.
Delta has been contacted for further comment.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.