Lufthansa has issued an apology for its treatment of many Jewish passengers who were denied boarding not on the basis of their behavior, but on the basis of their appearance.
Lufthansa Apologizes To Jewish Passengers Denied Boarding To Budapest
I outlined the issue in detail yesterday, but in short:
- A number of Orthodox Jewish passengers refused to wear masks or refrain from congregating in the galleys on a New York to Frankfurt flight
- Many were connecting to Budapest as part of a religious pilgrimage
- Rather than singling out the mask offenders, nearly all passengers who appeared Jewish were denied boarding on who were connected to Budapest
- A Lufthansa gate agent remarked, “Everyone has to pay for a couple”
- It appeared the decision to deny boarding en masse was made by the Captain of the FRA-BUD flight
> Read More: Did Lufthansa Really Discriminate Against Jews?
Lufthansa initially issued a cautionary statement saying it was investigating the incident. That investigation continues, but Lufthansa has issued an additional statement today about what happened, including an apology:
On May 4, a large number of booked passengers were denied boarding on their onward flight with LH 1334 from Frankfurt to Budapest. Lufthansa regrets the circumstances surrounding the decision to exclude the affected passengers from the flight, for which Lufthansa sincerely apologizes.
While Lufthansa is still reviewing the facts and circumstances of that day, we regret that the large group was denied boarding rather than limiting it to the non-compliant guests.
We apologize to all the passengers unable to travel on this flight, not only for the inconvenience, but also for the offense caused and personal impact.
Lufthansa and its employees stand behind the goal of connecting people and cultures worldwide. Diversity and equal opportunity are core values for our company and our corporate culture. What transpired is not consistent with Lufthansa’s policies or values. We have zero tolerance for racism, anti-Semitism and discrimination of any type.
We will be engaging with the affected passengers to better understand their concerns and openly discuss how we may improve our customer service.
Even with this lawsuit, passengers who were denied boarding are already banding together to launch a class action lawsuit for the discriminatory treatment. Of note, Lufthansa refers to the Jewish travelers as a “large group” when in fact they were not a group…many booked from the same travel agent and many shared a common religious and ethnic identity, but the idea that the Jewish passengers were traveling together appears factually inaccurate.
I do see a great opportunity for learning here. Germans are culturally so rules-oriented (it is not just a cliche) and flouting rules does not go over well. While it takes some work to identify passengers who are non-compliant instead of assigning blame to the entire group, such work is necessary to avoid not only bad optics (particularly in Germany), but a fundamental miscarriage of justice. A broad dragnet did indeed ensure a quiet flight from Frankfurt to Budapest without disruptions. But it also unfairly punished passengers who did nothing wrong. The ends do not always justify the means.
Lufthansa has issued a real apology (not just an “I’m sorry if you are offended” statement) and has refuted the idea that it tolerates unfair discrimination against any passenger on the basis of their religious or ethnicity. Even so, the investigation continues. My question from yesterday remains: how widespread were the mask violations? Whatever the answer does not justify punishing the innocent for the transgressions of the guilty, but it would help to understand how egregious the situation was onboard LH401 from JFK-FRA.