German flag carrier has apologized to a large group of Jewish people after it barred them from boarding a connecting flight at Frankfurt airport last week in a case of apparent ‘collective punishment’ that has been labelled as racist and anti-semitic.
As many as 170 Jewish passengers were prevented from flying on a connecting flight to Budapest having just arrived in Frankfurt on a Lufthansa operated Boeing 747-8 from New York JFK on May 4.
“Lufthansa regrets the circumstances surrounding the decision to exclude the affected passengers from the flight, for which Lufthansa sincerely apologizes,” the airline said on Tuesday following days of fierce criticism surrounding the disturbing incident.
Tuesday’s statement is the first time that Lufthansa has acknowledged that passengers may have been wrongly denied boarding.
The incident started when some passengers, including Jewish looking customers, onboard the first flight from New York JFK failed to comply properly with Lufthansa’s mandatory face mask policy.
Rather than identifying individual non-compliant passengers, the airline is alleged to barred every passenger who looked Jewish or had a Jewish sounding name from boarding the connecting flight.
There were a large number of Jewish passengers travelling to Budapest for a pilgrimage but they were not in a single group.
“While Lufthansa is still reviewing the facts and circumstances of that day, we regret that the large group was denied boarding rather than limiting it to the non-compliant guests,” the statement continued.
“We apologize to all the passengers unable to travel on this flight, not only for the inconvenience, but also for the offense caused and the personal impact”.
Lufthansa called heavily armed police to deal with the passengers and one employee was caught on camera apparently suggesting the airline had deliberately applied a policy of collective punishment against Jewish people.
“We will be engaging with the affected passengers to better understand their concerns and openly discuss how we may improve our customer service,” a Lufthansa representative said.
“We have zero tolerance for racism, anti-Semitism and discrimination of any type”.
Dutch flag carrier KLM is currently facing a lawsuit in the United States after it booted a group of Orthodox Jewish women from a flight at Amsterdam Schipol airport over an alleged mask violation.
The lawsuit claims KLM collectively barred the group even though some of them hadn’t even been on a flight where the alleged mask violation was said to have occurred.
Lawyers acting on behalf of the women say they were singled out by KLM and subjected to “egregious discrimination because of their Jewish race, ethnicity, and religion”.
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.