German flag carrier Lufthansa has been accused of an anti-Semitic attack against a large group of passengers because the airline allegedly threw them off a flight based on the fact that they ‘looked’ Jewish or had Jewish-sounding names.
The alarming incident happened last Wednesday when a large group of Jewish passengers had just arrived in Frankfurt after a transatlantic flight from New York JFK. The passengers were due to transfer onto a second flight to Budapest but many were barred because of alleged racial and religious discrimination.
The decision to ban the passengers was taken after some customers on the first flight leg from New York to Frankfurt allegedly failed to comply with face mask rules onboard the aircraft.
Although the U.S. federal face mask mandate has been struck down allowing passengers to go bare bared when flying, the German federal government still mandates masking on all flights and Lufthansa says it is compelled to enforce the laws on its flights as the national airline.
On last Wednesday’s flight, Lufthansa says some of the passengers failed to properly comply with Germany’s masking rules so a decision was taken to bar them from their next flight.
Controversially, however, the airline didn’t identify individuals who actually broke the rules but observed that some of the non-compliance issues were by passengers who looked Jewish according to an investigation by Dans Deals.
There was a large group of between 130 and 170 Jewish people on the flight flying to Budapest for a religious pilgrimage but they were not all travelling together. Lufthansa, though, allegedly decided to ban anyone who it believed to be Jewish from connecting onto the next flight.
The decision drew consternation from the crowd of passengers and Lufthansa called heavily armed police to deal with them. The situation became heated and the police officers were accused of being ‘Nazis’.
In one video of an interaction with a Lufthansa customer service representative, the airline worker seemingly confirms that collective punishment had been enforced on the basis of religion.
“If you want to do it like this, Jewish people who were the mess, who made the problems,” the service worker allegedly told a passenger.
A Lufthansa spokesperson now says the airline is investigating the incident but an initial statement from the carrier defended the decision to ban the passengers from their flight to Budapest.
“As safety and security of our passengers and staff is our top priority, Lufthansa will continue to abide by all legal requirements, including the mask mandate imposed by the German government and those of the countries served. We do so without prejudice and with the wellbeing of all our guests.”
The statement continued: “For legal reasons we cannot disclose the number of guests involved in the incident, however Lufthansa has rebooked the guests on the next available flight to their final destination. A prerequisite for transportation is that the travelers complied with the mask mandate, which is a legal requirement.”
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.