Delta Air Lines is standing by its decision to throw off 18 Jewish students traveling to New York after they refused to stop eating onboard outside of “designated” meal times. The students say they were hungry and Delta did not load any Kosher meal for them.
Jewish Girls Thrown Off Delta Flight In Eating Dispute
The incident occurred Friday according to The Times of Israel. The girls had traveled from Kiev to Amsterdam on KLM and were due to continue to New York on Delta onboard DL47. After boarding, the girls began to eat their food, drawing rebukes from flight attendants. The girls will told to stop eating, but refused. Flight attendants then alerted ground staff, which called the police. The girls were then escorted off.
The group tried to rebook on a KLM flight leaving an hour later, KL641, that still would have arrived before Sabbath began on Friday, but was denied.
A local Chabad student organization arranged meals for them and the students were eventually transferred to Antwerp, Belgium where they will spend the sabbath. On Sunday, they will attempt to fly back to New York again.
Federal mask rules provide very clear exceptions for eating and drinking. While the guidelines require replacing the mask between bites and sips, they do not specify that meals can only be consumed at so-called meal times.
Even if flight attendants told the girls not to eat or drink during boarding to prevent additional exposure to other passengers, such good intentions do not seem to comport with federal rules or Delta’s own internal mask policy.
Indeed, this is the first I’ve heard that meals can only be consumed during meal time. If anything, I would think staggering meals would be “safer” because less people would have their mask off at the same time.
A Delta spokesperson said:
“A group of passengers declined to follow the instructions of our staff and were escorted out of the airplane.”
What a silly statement. If a flight attendant tells me to drink a beer or clean the toilet I’m not going to obey. Instructions must be lawful and reasonable.
Later on, Delta issued an extended statement:
The safety and well-being of our customers and our crew is always our top priority. Delta flight DL47 today from Amsterdam to New York-JFK was delayed after a group of passengers on board refused to follow the crew’s instructions.
After the group refused to leave the plane, all passengers were asked to get off the plane, according to Delta’s protocol. At 12:40 PM local time, the re-boarding process was completed, without the group. We apologize to our customers for the delay and thank our customers for their patience and understanding.
Maybe the girls were rude (they claim the flight attendants were rude). Maybe the flight attendants were power tripping. Perhaps the girls were “eating” as an excuse not to wear masks. All we have is the claim for the girls and a very vague response from Delta.
KLM has also issued a statement stating the girls did not obey crewmember instructions concerning masks on the flight from New York to Amsterdam and again from Kiev to Amsterdam. It also appears that the girls who were denied boarding were chosen alphabetically, not necessarily based upon their specific conduct.
Thus, mark this story as developing but for purposes of our discussion I am most concerned about whether Delta allows passengers to consume meals brought onboard outside of meal times. Both statements fail to address this.
I try to give people the benefit of the doubt, but it’s one or the other in this case. I can see a situation in which hungry girls were eating after no kosher food from Kiev to Amsterdam and the prospect of no kosher food again from Amsterdam to New York. Perhaps they did not replace their masks between bites. That becomes a gray area, perhaps depending upon how rapidly they were eating. But if they were simply kicked off for eating outside of “meal times” then Delta owes the students a huge apology.
image: Alexey Komarov