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American Airlines Fined For Inflicting ‘Emotional Distress’ On Two Passengers Denied Kosher Food

American Airlines Fined For Inflicting ‘Emotional Distress’ On Two Passengers Denied Kosher Food

American Airlines has been fined $1,759 by a Brazilian court for failing to provide two passengers with the Kosher food they had ordered. Passengers flying with American Airlines on most of its long-haul international routes are able to pre-order from a range of 15 special meals including a Kosher option at no additional cost.

In its ruling, the 23rd Chamber of Civil Court of the Justice Tribunal of Sao Paulo said the Dallas Fort Worth-based airline had caused the two claimants ’emotional suffering’ by leaving them without food while offering a meal to virtually every other passenger.

The ruling relates to two separate incidents in which AA is found to have ‘failed to provide the services’ it had promised by not delivering the Kosher meals as ordered.

As Kosher meals are specially prepared to comply with Jewish dietary laws, some passengers who observe the Jewish faith are unable to eat food that has not been certified as Kosher.

The various dietary laws that dictate what is and isn’t Kosher are complex and include prohibiting certain ingredients, rules around how food is prepared and cooked, and banning certain combinations of food.

Because Kosher rules are so difficult to get right in a standard commercial kitchen, most Kosher airline meals are prepared in specially dedicated facilities, certified as Kosher and then sealed to ensure the meal isn’t contaminated with non-Kosher food.

One of the passengers who brought the case against AA claimed the airline failed to provide the ordered Kosher meal on a 10-hour flight between New York and Sao Paulo. A second passenger went without a Kosher meal on two flights, first from Madrid to Philadelphia and then on a connecting flight from Chicago to London.

Although it has been reported that airlines in both the United States and Brazil aren’t legally obligated to provide food, the judge found that consumer protection laws protected the passengers and American Airlines was liable for damages.

Providing Kosher meals can be an expensive business for airlines, although it could be seen as discriminatory to charge extra for one religious meal when others are free.

View Comments (2)
  • Airlines in Brazil are not legally required to serve kosher food, but unlike the United States — which insanely immunizes airlines from most lawsuits — Brazilian law absolutely and strictly requires airlines to fulfill their promises to consumers. In Brazil, airlines are held accountable, for missing schedules, for overbooking and bumping passengers, and for not serving the special meal as promised. Why should it be otherwise?

  • While I commend the Brazilian law makers on such consumer focused laws I still find it a stretch.

    On most airlines, including AA’s, there is a nice big box somewhere on the page where you order your food that has words to the effect of ‘whilst we will do our utmost to provide the meal you have requested we apologise in advance if due to technical or operational reasons we are unable to’

    It’s there for a reason and, whilst I’m happy for the passengers, imho that gives the legal ‘get-out-of-jail-free’ card which I can’t believe AA either didn’t submit as defense or wasn’t deemed adequate pre notification that X meal isn’t guaranteed. If we can all start claiming a couple grand for a veggie, halal, diabetic or kosher meal not making it onto the plane then that’s gonna end up on all our tickets sooner rather than later.

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