The airline was accused of anti-Semitism after the incident on 4 May 2022, when over 100 male Orthodox Jews were denied boarding on a connecting flight in Frankfurt.
After travelling with Lufthansa from New York on the first leg of their journey, the second part was to Budapest, Hungary, to attend an annual pilgrimage commemorating a famous rabbi’s death.
The men – who were not all travelling together – were denied boarding because a few people allegedly refused to comply with the airline’s face mask mandate on the first leg of the journey.
A Lufthansa employee was recorded at the airport telling a passenger who was banned from boarding: “It was Jewish people who made the mess, Jewish people who made the problem.”
The passenger is heard responding: “I was wearing a mask the entire time, why am I lumped in with them?”
Lufthansa released a statement on 10 May apologising for “the decision to exclude passengers from flight LH 1334”. The airline said: “We regret that the large group was denied boarding rather than limiting it to the non compliant guests.”
“What transpired is not consistent with Lufthansa’s policies or values. We have zero tolerance for racism, anti-Semitism and discrimination of any type,” it added.
German Green Party member Marlene Schoenberger subsequently tweeted: “Excluding Jews from a flight because they were recognizable as Jewish is a scandal. I expect German companies in particular to be aware of anti-Semitism.”
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) responded by tweeting that “this non-apology fails to admit fault or identify the banned passengers as Jews.”
“They had one commonality – being visibly Jewish”, it added.
DansDeals – which initially broke the story – reported on 11 May that Lufthansa’s CEO had announced all employees involved in the incident had been suspended.
In September, the American Jewish Committee announced a joint initiative with Lufthansa to combat global anti-Semitism. The AJC said: “This partnership also follows the airline’s endorsement of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism.”
The payment process has begun, with each of the 130 impacted passengers set to receive $21,000, which works out at around $17,400 when legal fees are deducted.
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