Back in May of this year, Lufthansa found itself in hot water after the airline denied boarding to 100+ Jewish passengers on their connecting flight after a select few individuals violated the airline’s facemask rules on the transatlantic flight from New York.
The carrier then decided to deny boarding to anyone who they assumed was in the same group but selected on the basis of looks and names, trying to filter out these orthodox Jews, a practice that would end up costing them dearly, as we learn this week.
According to several online sources, Lufthansa had now reached a multi-million dollar settlement with the affected passengers who were represented by a law firm in the U.S., and there have now been payments issued that are said to be in the region of $20,000 per passenger minus attorneys fees.
Based on the number of passengers involved, that means Lufthansa is paying anywhere around $2.5 Million as punishment for their behavior at Frankfurt Airport.
To quickly recapitulate what happened, here is a CNN article from May:
… Passengers told CNN they flew Lufthansa from New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport to Frankfurt, intending to connect to a flight to Budapest for a religious pilgrimage on May 4.
Yitzy Halpern of New York said he was trying to board the flight when he and a number of other passengers recognizable as Jewish, who were not associated with his group, were told they would not be allowed to board.
Halpern said once the gate was closed, the airline announced their tickets to Budapest were canceled due to an incident that happened on the flight from JFK, which the airline told CNN included people not complying with mask rules or other crew member instructions.
Passengers told CNN that though they were not traveling as “a group,” they were treated as such by Lufthansa. …
Halpern [a passenger quoted in the article] and the Lufthansa] employee, who is speaking in broken English, continue to go back and forth, and then the employee is heard saying, “Jewish people were the mess, who made the problems.”
“So Jewish people on the plane made the problems so all Jews are banned from Lufthansa for the day?” Halpern asks.
“Just for this flight,” the employee responds. …
The number of passengers affected by this insanity ranged anywhere between 100 and 140 depending on where you read about the incident.
Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr did apologize after the incident became public:
… Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr told employees what happened was not acceptable, according to a German news report confirmed by Muscal.
“Anti-Semitism has no place at Lufthansa,” Spohr said. “The procedure last Wednesday should not have happened like this and must now be fully clarified.” …
Fast forward, apparent there was a law firm involved that represented at least a large number of passengers collectively and the firm has eventually reached a financial settlement with Lufthansa that resulted in a considerable payment for each traveler.
Dan from Dan’s Deals has summarized the whole episode very well on his site with a timeline and is now reporting that $17,400 checks have been distributed to those clients represented by the law firm.
Let me quote Dan here:
… Sources tell me that the airline has agreed to settle for $20,000 plus $1,000 to cover expenses related to the incident.
The law firm that negotiated that settlement is taking 18% of the $20,000, leaving passengers with $16,400 plus $1,000 to cover expenses, for a total of $17,400 per passenger. Those checks are now being sent out.
Roughly 128 passengers were denied boarding and 2 were allowed to board. If the airline paid out $21,000 to each of them, that would be an expense of about $2.7 million. However some passengers weren’t part of the settlement, for various reasons. …
Lufthansa, together with many other airlines has gone completely berserk over their enforcement of onbaord mask rules even as recent as this summer. Let’s keep in mind that this happened in May of 2022 and Germany has still not moved on from their ridiculous masking rules. While it’s no longer mandatory to wear them on planes, you do have to wear masks on public transportation such as trains and buses. The transportation providers are mandated by law to enforce this insanity.
But this incident went far beyond enforcing mask rules. It lacked any reasonable basis, method or distinction of holding individual offenders accountable. Gate agents then called the police and pulled travelers from their connection flights solely based on appearance and names. You look jewish, your name sounds jewish, you’re off the flight! It’s mind boggling and quite frankly nuts.
That’s like saying “there was a European guy in a white shirt and tie smoking in the lavatory, let’s kick off everyone who remotely resembles that person no matter who they are”. Let alone the fact that this is a case of involuntarily denied boarding, it’s also discrimination of the highest order.
Lufthansa has reached a financial settlement to clear up a case from May where the carrier denied ~ 130 passengers with Jewish names and appearance boarding on the connecting flight due to a few unrelated passengers allegedly not following the face mask protocol on board. The way Lufthansa handled this matter caused a firestorm due to the poor execution of that process.
I’m glad that Lufthansa agreed [was forced] to pay up for the decisions that someone in Frankfurt made that day. This was poorly relayed by the cabin crew, poorly executed by the ground crew, and extremely poorly decided by management, who had to make the ultimate call. Someone must have either been high or on a power trip that ended up costing the carrier dearly.