A group of about 100 Orthodox Jews from New York City says it was barred from boarding a connecting flight in Germany last week — because a few didn’t wear masks on the previous leg, according to reports.
The group embarked from JFK Airport in Queens to begin a religious pilgrimage to Budapest, Hungary. They had a stopover in Frankfurt on Wednesday — but when they tried to board their next plane out of Germany for Hungary, they were not allowed to get on it.
The group said they were all barred from the Lufthansa jet because a handful of them hadn’t worn masks on their inbound trip from New York.
“Due to operational reasons coming from the flight from New York, for all passengers here we have to cancel you on this flight,” astonished members of the group said they were told at the gate, according to the Jewish news outlet Hamodia.
American flights no longer require masks, but German law has kept the mandate intact for travel. It wasn’t clear if those members of the group who didn’t wear masks on the US flight were willing to put on face masks for the Lufthansa journey.
But either way, when some mask-wearing members of the group began to object to being lumped together for their next leg, a Lufthansa staffer allegedly conceded they all were being punished for the actions of those who previously didn’t wear masks.
“They explicitly said that nobody who is dressed alike on that [JFK] plane is going to board the Lufthansa plane to Budapest,” group member Nachman Kahana told Hamodia.
Only “one or two” did not wear masks on the previous flight, Kahana noted.
One of the Orthodox Jews in the group grilled an airline staffer about the mass exclusion on a tense video posted to Twitter.
“Is this a Lufthansa decision that all Jewish people on that flight, we can’t go on any other flight today?” the man asks incredulously. “Because this is 2022, and this is a Western country. So this is to go to upper management because this is an [anti-Semitic act].”
Lufthansa denied the accusations in a statement to Hamodia.
“We find the claim of anti-Semitism unwarranted and without merit,” the company said.
“We confirm that a larger group of passengers could not be carried today on Lufthansa flight LH1334 from Frankfurt to Budapest, because the travelers refused to wear the legally mandated mask on board,” it added — without specifying which leg of the journey it was referring to and appearing to suggest the lack of masks was wide-spread.
The group said it eventually split up and reached Budapest on other airlines. It’s not clear if everyone wore a mask on those flights.