Kuwait Airways pays damages to woman barred from buying ticket at Heathrow for being Israeli

Mandy Blumenthal issued a claim against the airline, seeking damages for racial discrimination


Kuwait Airways has agreed to pay substantial damages and legal costs to a woman after she was refused a ticket on a flight from London to Bangkok because she held an Israeli passport.

Mandy Blumenthal issued a claim against the airline, claiming damages for racial discrimination and harassment, after she filmed herself trying to buy a ticket at Heathrow in November.

Kuwait Airways has agreed to pay Ms Blumenthal damages but has not admitted liability.

The video she filmed of herself trying to buy the ticket was posted to YouTube.

It shows an airline clerk telling Ms Blunmenthal: “Israeli passport holders are not permitted to travel on Kuwait Airways.. It's a rule from Kuwait."

Ms Blumenthal asks whether any other nationality is forbidden from travelling and is told no. She tells the clerk that it is “unfair to single out Jews.” "I feel as I am being racially abused at the moment," she says, as her requests to see manager are denied.


Speaking about the result of her claim, she said: “It is horrible to be singled out, to be told you are not allowed to do something because of who you are.

“Having someone telling me that he is following instructions, that it is a rule, a policy gave me a sinking feeling inside.

“In my mind it is an antisemitic policy to single out the only Jewish State to boycott.”

UK Lawyers for Israel, a voluntary organisation of lawyers, assisted Ms Blumenthal’s claim by arranging her legal representation.

She was represented by barristers John Bowers QC, Benjamin Gray, and David Berens of Fuglers Solicitors.  

Mr Berens said: “The law is clear: direct discrimination on grounds of nationality in the provision of a service to the public is illegal.

“Ms Blumenthal has done a service in showing up Kuwait Airways’ illegal policy. Kuwait Airways is now legally obliged to end this policy or end its services from the UK altogether.’”

Jonathan Turner, chief executive of UK Lawyers for Israel, believes other Israelis may come forward with similar claims and has confirmed that the organisation would assist any one who has been similarly affected.

Brooke Goldstein, director of The Lawfare Project, said: “It’s hard to believe that in 2018, an airline operating at Heathrow can ban passengers on no other basis than their nationality.”

The legal think tank, which supports cases against antisemitic discrimination around the world has led similar complaints against Kuwait Airways.

Mr Goldstein said: “Kuwait Airways should be made to choose: either give up your racist, antisemitic policy or cease operating out of Heathrow.

“The airline’s discriminatory policy should have no place in a free society.”

Kuwait Airways has been approached for comment.

Last November, a German court ruled the airline was "within its rights" to bar Israeli nationals from its flights. 

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