German flag carrier Lufthansa has reportedly agreed to pay a $2.7 million settlement to resolve a discrimination lawsuit brought by nearly 130 passengers who were all booted from the same flight by airline ground staff because, it is alleged, they ‘looked’ Jewish.
The incident occurred in May 2022 in what appeared to be a case of ‘collective punishment’ that was quickly labelled ‘racist’ and ‘antisemitic’.
A large group of Jewish passengers had flown with Lufthansa on May 3 from New York JFK to Frankfurt and were due to catch a connecting flight to Budapest, but many were barred from boarding the flight to Hungary because several customers on the first flight had disobeyed a face mask mandate.
Rather than identifying the individual rule breakers, however, Lufthansa staff noted that the transgressors appeared to be Jewish. As a result, the airline allegedly slapped flight bans on anyone on the flight who looked Jewish or had a Jewish-sounding name.
Stunned passengers filmed their interactions with Lufthansa ground staff at Frankfurt Am Main Airport, where one employee seemingly confirmed on film that the entire group was being collectively punished based on their religion.
To make matters worse, the airline then called heavily armed police to deal with the peaceful group of passengers.
Facing a major lawsuit, Lufthansa now appears to have reached an out-of-court settlement, with each passenger caught up in the incident set to receive a payout of $21,000 each.
The settlement comprises $20,000 in compensation plus $1,000 for expenses incurred after passengers were barred from their connecting flight. The law firm which negotiated the settlement will, however, take a cut of 18 percent of the compensation lump sum.
As reported by Dans Deals, 128 passengers were barred from the connecting flights, leaving Lufthansa with a bill of nearly $2.7 million.
In the aftermath of the antisemitism row, Lufthansa became the first airline to fully adopt a more encompassing definition of antisemitism which was created by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA).
Lufthansa also says it is continuing to work with the American Jewish Committee to develop corporate sensitivity training sessions.
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.