JetBlue accused of ‘antisemitism’ after orthodox Jews kicked off plane

Three Jewish passengers were told the flight crew were “uncomfortable” and were made to leave


Three passengers were kicked off the flight from California to New York (Photo: BluePylons)

Three Orthodox Jewish passengers were removed from a flight from California to New York, in what one passenger called a case of clear “antisemitism”.

The Jewish passengers were told by the pilot: “If you don’t get off the airplane we will deplane the rest of the airplane and leave you three on”. In a recording of the confrontation, the pilot said the in-flight crew were “uncomfortable” with the Jewish passengers’ presence on the plane.

One of the passengers – a Jewish woman – can be heard telling the pilot that she had children waiting for her at home. She asked him: “What did we do? Did we touch anybody? Do we look dangerous?”

The conflict began when one of the passengers – an elderly Orthodox man – requested to move to a vacant seat for religious reasons, presumably because he had been sitting next to two Orthodox women.

Another passenger, Ron Passaro, offered to switch seats, and the issue was resolved. Rachel Sklar – whose boyfriend had switched seats with the Orthodox man – told the pilot that it was all “fine” and “everybody was good” but the pilot still made the three Jewish passengers leave the flight.

The pilot reportedly told passengers the issue was a weight imbalance, which made changing seats a “violation”. Passaro told The Forward that the weight imbalance issue made no sense, because the passengers were, “if anything, svelte”.

Sklar told The Forward “the whole thing was really upsetting. It seemed very unnecessary and kind of bewildering”. She also said: “I was stunned that they kicked them off the plane at that hour on New Year’s Eve.”

Passengers requesting to change seats is not uncommon, Sklar told the Forward. It is also not uncontroversial – in 2017, a Jerusalem court found that El Al Airlines would not be able to ask women to move seats to accommodate a man who does not want to sit beside them.

Last year, the airline was accused of deceptive trading practices by a Kosher certification group after marking inflight food Kosher without its consent.

JetBlue Airways, a major low-cost airline operating primarily in the US, has been sued in the state of New Jersey for allegedly infringing on the trademarks of Kof-K, a leading Kosher certification agency, a claim which the airline has refuted.

On the JetBlue flight, no-one was asked to change seats, and it was only men who moved.

JetBlue has been approached for comment.

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