Jewish Girls Kicked Off Flights in Amsterdam Sue Delta/KLM

NEW YORK
(AP Photo/Michael Dwyer/File)

A group of teenaged Jewish girls who were kicked off two KLM/Delta flights in Amsterdam last summer and say they were harassed on other flights filed suit this week against the airline, alleging antisemitic discrimination.

“After spending two weeks on a religious and educational tour to pay tribute to their Jewish heritage, to remember the atrocities of the Holocaust, and to honor the millions of Jewish families who perished or whose lives were destroyed at the hands of antisemitic murderers, Plaintiffs suffered a devastating reminder at the hands of Delta Airlines and KLM Airlines that anti-Semitism and discrimination against the Jewish race continues in 2021,” says the complaint, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of New York.

The 19 plaintiffs, mostly from New York, were part of a larger group of more than 50 girls and chaperones who participated in a tour of Jewish sites in Europe last July and August.

The group alleges that following their initial flight from New York to Amsterdam in late July, they were given warnings that they had “not behaved” and that they had better “behave” on their next flight, a connecting trip to Vienna. The group says they were never told they had been misbehaving, and did not receive any explanation for the nature of their alleged misbehaving. The pilot on the flight from Amsterdam to Vienna then allegedly warned them, “I don’t really want to take you. But I’m being forced to … if you misbehave, I’ll make an emergency landing.”

Following their two-week tour in Europe, the girls flew from Kyiv to Amsterdam, for a connecting flight to New York.

The complaint alleges that on the Kyiv-Amsterdam flight, the group was warned that they must wear masks following in-flight service — despite all the girls having been compliant with mask regulations. During the flight, some girls took out their own kosher food and removed their masks to eat, but were told they could not eat except during the official in-flight service time. The flight staff allowed other passengers to eat their own food at the time.

The group chaperone was given a “final warning” that they had not been compliant with COVID guidelines, though she said the group was in fact compliant.

Once they arrived in Amsterdam, the girls were barred from their connecting flight to New York. They were forced to sleep in the Amsterdam airport that night, before getting a flight the next morning, Friday, August 6th, back to New York.

However, they were then kicked off the Friday flight, allegedly because some girls had agreed to switch seats with passengers who requested it so that the passengers could sit near their relatives.

The girls were forced to spend Shabbos in Europe, before getting a flight on Sunday from Brussels to Newark Airport on United Airlines.

The group alleges they were kicked off the flights and and harassed by airline staff due to antisemitic discrimination. They are seeking damages for violations of federal and state contract and anti-discrimination laws.

Asked by Hamodia for comment on the lawsuit, KLM said, “KLM Royal Dutch Airlines does not comment on pending litigation. Passenger safety is KLM’s highest priority, and KLM does not tolerate any behavior that endangers the health or safety of its passengers or crew.”

Delta Air Lines said, “While Delta has no specific comment on this pending litigation, compliance with flight crew member instructions for the safety and well-being of everyone is paramount. Delta also has zero tolerance for discrimination in any form in all aspects of our business.”

A full account of the events of these flights is available here

The full lawsuit is available here

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rborchardt@hamodia.com

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