Passengers told CNN that they would fly Lufthansa from John F. Kennedy Airport in New York to Frankfurt and transfer to a flight to Budapest on March 4 for a religious pilgrimage.
Yitzy Halpern of New York said he was about to board the plane when he and many other passengers recognized as Jews unrelated to his group were told they were not allowed to board.
According to Halpan, when the gate was closed, the airline announced that its ticket to Budapest was canceled due to an incident that occurred during a flight from JFK.
Passengers told CNN that they had not traveled as a “group” but were treated as such by Lufthansa.
During the announcement captured in the video, the employee said, “I know why it was,” and the passengers are heard yelling, “No, we don’t.”
“We apologize for the inconvenience, as well as the crimes and personal consequences caused,” Lufthansa contacted the passengers. A spokeswoman told CNN that the airline is conducting an internal review.
Passengers blame airlines for anti-Semiticism
In a video of the incident posted on the website Dan’s Deals, passengers accuse the airline and German police at the departure gate of anti-Semitism.
At some point, in a frenzied exchange, you’ll hear passengers invisible or unidentified from the camera calling police officers “Nazis.” Another passenger tells the police officer guarding the gate, “Your grandparents will be proud.”
Halpan says: “I’m not in a group. I understand that the pilot made the decision. I have no doubts about the pilot’s decision, but it seems that other Lufthansa flights are banned … this is Is it Lufthansa’s decision? Isn’t all the Jews on that plane able to fly on other planes today? ”
Halpan asks seniors to talk and continues to question the decision.
“I’ve been wearing masks all the time. Why am I with them?” He asks the employee.
“Everyone has to pay for the couple,” says the employee a few seconds later.
When Halpan asks to clarify the meaning of “everyone,” the employee replies, “Because he is a Jew from JFK.”
Employees speaking in broken English with Halpan continued to come and go, and I heard them say, “The Jews were a mess that caused problems.”
“So were all the Jews expelled from Lufthansa that day because the Jews on the plane caused problems?” Halpan asks.
“Only for this flight,” the employee replies.
Three passengers contacted by CNN reported that nothing unusual was seen during the flight from JFK, and that the passengers they saw followed the instructions of airline staff to adjust the mask. Stated.
Yitzy Schmidt, who was traveling with Halpan, told CNN that he had not witnessed cheating on the part of the passengers. According to Schmidt, there were times when people forgot to eat and put the mask back on, and passengers were told to adjust the mask, but everyone he witnessed was a flight attendant. I obeyed what I said.
“We were all stunned and trying to figure out how this could happen,” Schmidt said.
Lufthansa apologized and stated that the decision was based on “non-compliance”
In a statement, airline spokesperson Tal Mascar said, “The reason for this decision was on the last flight LH401 from New York to Frankfurt, where many guests adhered to mask requirements and crew safety instructions. It was based on various cases that did not exist. ” “Lufthansa regrets the circumstances surrounding the decision to exclude affected passengers from the flight. Lufthansa sincerely apologizes.”
“What has happened is inconsistent with Lufthansa’s policies and values. We do not tolerate any racism, anti-Semitism or discrimination of any kind,” said Mascar. “Lufthansa is still considering the facts and circumstances of the day, but it’s a shame that a large group was denied boarding rather than limiting it to non-compliant guests.”
Mr Mascar said he knew nothing about disciplinary action.
Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr told employees that what happened was unacceptable, according to a German news report confirmed by Muscal.
“Anti-Semitism is not in Lufthansa,” Spohr said. “Last Wednesday’s procedure shouldn’t have been done this way, so it now needs to be completely clarified.”
At the beginning of Wednesday, he spoke on a video call with a Jewish leader in Berlin.
“We are analyzing in detail how this happened. What exactly happened. Various sources. We have talked to the crew so far. We have talked to the crew. We talked to the scene. It’s clear, so we apologized, “Spore told Rabbi. “This is inconsistent with our rules of communication and behavior.”
“It was a kind of unacceptable choice.”
At least two Jewish men were allowed to board the plane to Budapest.
Max Weingarten told CNN that he and his business partners were successfully allowed to fly from JFK to Frankfurt in first class and proceed to the next flight.
His business partner was suspended at the time of boarding, but after discussions with airline staff, he was eventually allowed to board.
“We don’t look like ultra-Orthodox. We looked like ordinary citizens,” he told CNN. “The choice between Jewish and non-Jewish, or between Jewish, is horrifying. It was a kind of unacceptable choice. I felt completely uncomfortable.”
German politician Marlene Schönberger said that if the explanation proved to be true, the consequences would be.
“Excluding Jews from the plane because they were recognized as Jews is a scandal, especially I think German companies are aware of anti-Semitism,” she tweeted.
The Jewish life in Hessen, Germany, and the fight against anti-Semitic commissioner Uwe Becker sought an apology and explanation from Lufthansa.
“Here, the whole group of people was held responsible for something that clearly affects only individual travelers. It is only because of their recognizable beliefs. This is discriminatory and It’s not trivial, “he said.
CNN’s Carroll Alvarado, Christopher Stern, Liam Reilly, Nicki Brown and Alexandra Field contributed to this report.