On Monday I wrote about the awful story of how Lufthansa allegedly denied many passengers boarding on account of being Jewish.
Long story story, there were lots of Orthodox Jewish passengers traveling from New York to Budapest via Frankfurt on Lufthansa. Some passengers allegedly didn’t comply with Lufthansa’s mask rules, and then all Orthodox Jewish passengers on the connecting flight ended up being denied boarding. As a Lufthansa agent explained, “everyone has to pay for a couple.”
There’s a bit more to the story, so I’d recommend checking out the original story. In this post I wanted to provide an update. While Lufthansa first issued an apology on Tuesday, the carrier’s CEO has now gotten involved, and we’ve also learned that some employees have been suspended.
Lufthansa apologizes to passengers denied boarding
On Tuesday (the business day after this story went viral), Lufthansa issued a statement, apologizing for what happened with the above incident. Here’s the statement from Lufthansa:
On May 4, a large number of booked passengers were denied boarding on their onward flight with LH 1334 from Frankfurt to Budapest. Lufthansa regrets the circumstances surrounding the decision to exclude the affected passengers from the flight, for which Lufthansa sincerely apologizes.
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.
We apologize to all the passengers unable to travel on this flight, not only for the inconvenience, but also for the offense caused and personal impact.
Lufthansa and its employees stand behind the goal of connecting people and cultures worldwide. Diversity and equal opportunity are core values for our company and our corporate culture. What transpired is not consistent with Lufthansa’s policies or values. We have zero tolerance for racism, anti-Semitism and discrimination of any type.
We will be engaging with the affected passengers to better understand their concerns and openly discuss how we may improve our customer service.
Lufthansa CEO apologizes to Rabbi, suspends employees
Given how much media attention this story has received, Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr has personally gotten involved, as reported by DansDeals. This week Spohr had a roughly 30 minute video chat with Yehuda Teichtal, who is a Rabbi in Berlin. It’s not entirely clear why Spohr chose to speak with him rather than another Rabbi (I guess Berlin is Germany’s capital, but that’s the only connection that has to this incident).
Below is a short clip of Spohr speaking with the Rabbi. While the full contents of the call aren’t known, Spohr has confirmed that employees have been suspended as a result of this incident, though it’s not clear which employees have been suspended (is it those communicating with passengers, the captain who made the decision to not allow Jewish passengers onboard, or…?).
Spohr also emphasized that the airline is working on better training to ensure that something like this never happens again.
My take on Lufthansa’s apology & response
I’m pleased to see Lufthansa taking this situation seriously:
- Realistically I imagine this case only got the attention of higher ups at the company on Monday, so it makes sense that on Tuesday the airline couldn’t provide a definitive explanation of everything that unfolded, since it takes time to investigate
- I appreciate that Lufthansa acknowledges that an unnecessary number of people were denied boarding, rather than just non-compliant guests (which confirms that this was as we suspected)
- Nonetheless there’s an issue with even referring to these passengers as a “group,” since they had booked through various means, and many weren’t traveling together; it would be like denying all Black people boarding on a flight (even if they don’t know one another), and then saying a “large group” was denied boarding
- I appreciate that Lufthansa acknowledges that what transpired isn’t consistent with Lufthansa’s policies or values, and that the airline plans to openly discuss this situation with passengers
Only time will tell how this evolves, though it seems like Lufthansa is taking this seriously. In fairness, that may very well be because the airline realizes it has no choice but to do so.
Lufthansa has issued an apology for a recent incident where dozens and dozens of passengers were denied boarding due to the actions of some passengers. While there’s obviously still a full investigation that needs to be completed, I’m pleased to see how quickly Lufthansa has acknowledged what happened (that people were incorrectly denied boarding), and that this doesn’t reflect the company’s values.
Furthermore, Lufthansa’s CEO is now even personally involved, and has confirmed that employees have been suspended. Once a full investigation is performed, hopefully further action is taken to make sure that something like this doesn’t happen again.
What do you make of Lufthansa’s apology and response so far?