What. A. Mess.
If reports are to be believed (and there’s lots of documentation suggesting that they should be believed), a lot of passengers were denied boarding on a Lufthansa flight simply for looking Jewish, to pay for the mask-related “crimes” of other Jews. Let me try to tackle this as simply as possible.
There were mask compliance issues on a Lufthansa flight
DansDeals has a detailed description of what happened, though let me try to simplify it a bit further. This situation started on Lufthansa flight 401 from New York (JFK) to Frankfurt (FRA) on Wednesday, May 4, 2022.
It’s estimated that there were 135-170 Orthodox Jews traveling on the flight, including many connecting to Budapest (as part of an annual pilgrimage to visit the grave of a Rabbi). This estimate is based on knowing that one travel agency sold 80 tickets, another travel agency sold 30 tickets, and then a bunch of people booked individually, either with cash or points.
There were apparently some mask compliance issues onboard. While the United States no longer requires masks on planes, and while Frankfurt Airport no longer requires masks when at the airport, masks are required on flights to & from Germany.
The crew was apparently extremely vigilant about ensuring that everyone wore their mask, which is fair enough. There were allegedly mask compliance issues with some passengers, to the point that the decision was made that these passengers should be denied boarding on their connecting flight to Budapest, due to not following crew member instructions.
That’s fair enough, except…
By association, Lufthansa denied all Jews boarding
Passengers connecting from Frankfurt to Budapest were in for quite a surprise, as the departure gate had many armed German police officers there. Lufthansa didn’t deny boarding just to those who were confirmed to have mask compliance issues on the flight to New York, but seemingly to anyone coming from New York who “looked” Jewish (it’s claimed that non-Jewish passengers were allowed to board).
According to reports, it was the captain who made the decision about which passengers should be denied boarding.
In a video that was posted to YouTube (but which has since been taken down for violating terms of service), a passenger could be heard talking to a Lufthansa agent:
Passenger: I was wearing a mask the entire time, why am I lumped in with them?
Lufthansa agent: It was one, everyone has to pay for a couple.
Passenger: What do you mean everybody, everybody from that race? Everybody else on the flight went.
Lufthansa agent: Not everybody.
Passenger: The non-Jewish people on the flight went. Why are only the Jewish people paying for other people’s crimes?
Lufthansa agent: Because it’s Jews coming from JFK.
Passenger: Oh, so Jewish people coming from JFK are paying for the crimes of a few people?
Lufthansa agent: No
Passenger: Jewish people are paying for the crimes of Israel?
Lufthansa agent: No
Passenger: Just the Jewish people on that flight?
Lufthansa agent: Do you want to discuss with me or no? Do you want to listen to me?
Passenger: I’m like shocked beyond, never in my adult life. I’ve never heard this.
Lufthansa agent: If you want to do it like this, Jewish people who were the mess, who made the problems.
Passenger: So Jewish people on the plane made a problem, so all Jews are banned from Lufthansa for the day?
Lufthansa agent: Just for this flight.
In another video posted to YouTube, you can hear a gate agent explaining the following:
“Due to operational reasons, coming from the flight from New York, for all passengers here we have to cancel you on this flight. You know why it was.”
Things get especially tense when a passenger calls the police officer a Nazi (which isn’t cool, in my opinion).
Lufthansa confirmed that 127 people were banned from the airline for a period of 24 hours. It has also been confirmed that only 30 people were onboard the flight from Frankfurt to Budapest.
I can’t think of any defense for Lufthansa here?
I certainly want to believe that there’s more to the story, rather than an airline lumping everyone of the same religion together, and punishing them for the actions of a few. However, there’s quite a bit of evidence here suggesting that this is at least mostly as it appears:
- There’s a difference between banning an individual for a mask related incident, and banning an entire group of people for their association with someone who had a mask related issue
- Unless Lufthansa can produce inflight disturbance reports for each and every one of the people denied boarding, then it sure seems like everyone was just lumped in together
- The Lufthansa agent herself confirms that others are being punished for the crimes of some — “it was one, everyone has to pay for a couple”
- It’s not even like all the Orthodox Jewish passengers booked through the same channels, but they booked through many sources, but were all treated the same
We’ve seen a lot of mask related incidents in the past couple of years, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a case where all passengers connecting from a certain flight were banned, even without proof of everyone having done something wrong.
One has to wonder if anyone in a position of authority (other than a captain) was involved in any decision making here. Aside from this just being plain wrong and discriminatory, the optics here are horrible, with a German airline denying boarding to passengers for being Jewish. You’d think Lufthansa would want to be a bit more sensitive around that topic.
So far Lufthansa has just indicated that this situation is being investigated, and I’m curious to see if anything comes of this.
Lufthansa is accused of denying boarding to a majority of passengers on a flight to Budapest, simply because they were Jewish. There were mask compliance issues on a flight from New York, and rather than banning specific passengers who were non-compliant, the airline reportedly banned all Jewish passengers by association.
I hope that Lufthansa conducts a proper investigation into the incident, as the airline has to do better than this…
What do you make of this Lufthansa incident? While different opinions are welcome, please be respectful, given the sensitive nature of this…