Backpackers Tokyo

by Gary Leff on May 8, 2022

A large group of Jewish passengers were kept from traveling on a Lufthansa connecting flight to Budapest on Wednesday after some Jewish passengers – and some non-Jews – had mask compliance issues on board Lufthansa’s flight 401 from New York JFK to Frankfurt.

Dan Eleff estimates that there were 135 – 170 Jews on the Lufthansa Boeing 747-8 making a pilgrimage to the gravesite of Rabbi Yeshaya Steiner. He had numerous conversations and has significant video of the incidents, which conflicts with Lufthansa’s statements.

Reportedly a group of Jews in business class weren’t masked. Though the U.S. no longer has a mask requirement, and masks aren’t required in the Frankfurt airport, Lufthansa still requires masks on board. Enforcement was said to be inconsistent, but Jews in particular were singled out for their mask compliance. And passengers who appeared Jewish, or who had Jewish-sounding names, were banned from their connecting flight.

There’s some disagreement over how quickly the ban was put into effect, or whether it was actually 24 hours. And as a result numerous passengers failed to make onward connections, and in some cases had their return trips cancelled necessitating buying new tickets.

Here’s a Lufthansa representative explaining that Jews caused the problems, so the airline approached this as collective guilt.

Passenger: The non-Jewish people on the flight went. Why are only the Jewish people paying for other people’s crimes?

Lufthansa: Because it’s Jews coming from JFK.

…Passenger: I’m like shocked beyond, never in my adult life. I’ve never heard this.

Lufthansa: If you want to do it like this, Jewish people who were the mess, who made the problems.

Lufthansa offered in a statement that passengers who failed to comply with mask requirements were re-accommodated on the next flight, though doesn’t deal with whether compliant passengers were banned as well, whether Jewish passengers were singled out for this treatment, or that numerous passengers weren’t allowed to travel the same day.

We confirm that a larger group of passengers could not be carried yesterday on Lufthansa flight LH1334 from Frankfurt to Budapest, because the travelers refused to wear the legally mandated mask (medical mask) on board.

By German law, Lufthansa, similar to any and all carriers operating in Germany, is obliged to follow the legal requirements of this mandate. In the new German Infection Protection Act, the obligation to wear a mask remains in place in public transport and thus also on board flights, as well as across all aspects of air transport. Medical or FFP2 masks must therefore continue to be worn on board Lufthansa flights, at all times.

For legal reasons we cannot disclose the number of guests involved in the incident, however Lufthansa has rebooked the guests on the next available flight to their final destination. A prerequisite for transportation is that the travelers complied with the mask mandate, which is a legal requirement.

As safety and security of our passengers and staff is our top priority, Lufthansa will continue to abide by all legal requirements, including the mask mandate imposed by the German government and those of the countries served. We do so without prejudice and with the wellbeing of all our guests.

Treating Jews, collectively, for the behavior of some passengers – and singling out Jews for blame – raises especially troubling concerns in Germany and by a German airline.

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