Dubai, United Arab Emirates (CNN) – A German airline has apologized for preventing a large group of Jewish passengers from boarding a flight bound for Frankfurt Airport earlier this month because of a “limited” number. their did not abide by the rules of dress. masks in addition to other instructions from the flight crew, the company announced.
Passengers told CNN that the German Lufthansa flight departed from John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City to Frankfurt, Germany, in order to catch a flight to the Hungarian capital Budapest to make the Hajj pilgrimage on May 4.
Passenger Jesse Halpern from New York said he was trying to board the plane when he and a group of other passengers known as Jews, who were not part of his group, were told they would not be allowed on the plane.
After the gate closed, Halpern explained, the airline announced the cancellation of their tickets to Budapest due to an incident on the flight from JFK, which the airline told CNN had involved people who did not follow the rules for wearing masks or instructions from crew members.other.
The passengers told CNN that although they were not traveling “as a group”, they were treated as such by Lufthansa.
During the announcement of the cancellation of their ticket, which was documented in the video, the airline employee said, “You know why,” while passengers were heard shouting, “No, we do not.”
Lufthansa said it was communicating with the affected passengers and apologized “not only for the inconvenience but also for the breach caused and personal impact”.
An airline spokesman told CNN that the airline was conducting an internal review.
Passengers accuse the airline of anti-Semitism
In a video of the incident, posted on Dan’s Deals website, the passengers accused the airline and German police, who were at the departure gate, of anti-Semitism.
At one point, during a heated oral argument, an unprecedented passenger on camera can be heard calling the policeman “Nazi,” while another passenger tells a policeman guarding the gate, “Your grandparents will be proud.”
Halpern can also be heard saying: “I’m not with the group. I understand that the captain made a decision and we do not question his decision, but apparently, we have been stopped by other Lufthansa flights … “Is this a Lufthansa decision, that all the Jewish passengers on that flight can not travel on any other flight today?”
He wants Halpern to speak to senior management and continues to question that decision.
“I wore a mask all the time. Why did I get involved with them?” Ask Halpern.
And the employee responds after a few seconds: “Everyone has to pay for what some did.”
When Halpern asked for an explanation of what “everyone” meant, the employee replied, “Because they are Jews from JFK.”
Halpern and the clerk, speaking in broken English, continued to argue, after which the clerk was heard saying, ‘The Jews are the mess, the troublemakers’.
Halpern then asks, “So the Jews on the plane caused trouble, so why are all Jews banned from Lufthansa flights today?” And the employee responds: “Just for this trip.”
Three passengers contacted by CNN reported that they witnessed nothing – out of the ordinary that happened on the flight from JFK, and explained that the passengers they saw followed the instructions of the airline staff to put on their masks.
Itzi Schmidt, who was traveling with Halpern, told CNN that he did not witness any irregularities on the part of the passengers, noting that sometimes passengers were eating food and forgot to put on their masks, or someone was asked to adjusted. the position of his muzzle, but everyone saw it. Fulfill the flight crew requirement.
“We were all surprised and tried to get an explanation of how something like this could have happened,” Schmidt added.
Lufthansa apologizes and explains that the decision was based on “inconsistency”
“The reason for the decision was based on various instances of multiple passengers not meeting compliance requirements for crew compliance and crew safety instructions on the previous LH401 flight from New York to Frankfurt,” Tal Moskal’s spokesman told CNN. statement.
“Lufthansa regrets the circumstances of the decision to exclude passengers affected by the flight, for which Lufthansa sincerely apologizes.”
Moskal added: “What happened is not in line with Lufthansa’s policies or values. We have zero tolerance for racism, anti-Semitism and discrimination of any kind. While Lufthansa is still examining the facts and circumstances of that day, we regret that the group refused boarding instead of Restrict this to guests who disagree.
Moskal said he was unaware of any disciplinary action.
Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr told employees that what happened was unacceptable, according to a German news report confirmed by Moskal.
“There is no room for anti-Semitism in Lufthansa,” Spohr said, adding: “The measures last Wednesday should not have happened that way and now need to be fully clarified.”
“It was a kind of unacceptable choice”
At least two Jewish men were allowed to board the plane for Budapest.
Max Weingarten told CNN that he and his business partner traveled in the first class cabin from JFK to Frankfurt without any problems and were allowed to board the next flight.
His business partner was initially stopped from boarding the plane, but was eventually allowed to board the plane after a discussion with the airline staff.
“We do not wear ultra-orthodox clothes, we just look like normal people,” Weingarten said, adding, “The choice of Jews versus non-Jews or the choice between Jews is terrible. It was a kind of unacceptable choice and I felt completely embarrassed. . “
For her part, German politician Marlene Schönberger said that if the allegations turn out to be true, there should be consequences.
“Excluding Jews from a flight because they can be identified as Jews is scandalous. I expect German companies in particular to be aware of anti-Semitism,” Schonberger wrote on Twitter.
For his part, the German commissioner for Jewish life in the state of Hessen and the fight against anti-Semitism, Uwe Becker, apologized and clarified from Lufthansa, saying: “It is clear here that a whole group of people have been arrested. responsible for something that only affects individual travelers, just because of their religious belief. “This is discrimination and not a common issue.”