BA suspends steward who told passenger not to touch ‘Jewish-made’ Coca Cola

Airline launches investigation after a diplomat’s request for water prompted a rant about the soft drink


A British Airways Airbus A391-131 comes in to land at Heathrow Airport in west London on April 29, 2024. (Photo by Adrian DENNIS / AFP) (Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images)

A British Airways flight attendant has been suspended after he advised a passenger not to “touch” Coca Cola because “Jews make it”.

The airline has launched an investigation into the incident, which the passenger called "random and unsolicited antisemitism".

Saskia Goldman was on a BA flight from London to Vancouver in late April when she asked a crew member for water.

The steward proceeded to rant about Coca Cola, telling Goldman: “Jews make it and that’s why you wouldn’t want to touch it.”

Goldman, who is a Foreign Office diplomat, told the crew member: “What you just said is antisemitic and I am Jewish and people could be very offended.”

No other staff or passengers intervened but Goldman said she was “totally shocked” by the comments.

She moved away from the steward, who followed her to continue the conversation.

“I was then shocked to be pounced upon again to have him explain [and ask] for me not to be offended. He restated 'I was just saying that Jews ...' and I told him to stop talking about 'Jews' and restated that I was Jewish, and I tried to walk away.”

The steward then allegedly told Goldman it was "just something he was repeating as his manager had said it and the team had been talking about it earlier.”

According to Goldman, the steward went on to explain that he was also Jewish.

Goldman, who was travelling to Canada to visit friends, said she felt “sad” and “uncomfortable” and told the steward what he had said was “dangerous.”

Later, a different crew member approached Goldman in her seat and apologised, reportedly saying that he had heard everything that the steward said about Coca Cola.

Goldman asked the crew member to make a complaint or tell his supervisor about the incident.

Goldman told the JC: “There is clearly a cultural issue among BA staff where prejudice and injurious behaviour cannot be identified and adequately challenged.”

She said she did not think the offensive steward should be fired but suggested a “focused and widespread overhaul of BA's staff straining”.

After her journey, Goldman filed a complaint with BA, but the airline did not initially reply to her in full.

Responding to the JC's inquiries, a spokesperson for BA said: “All forms of discrimination are completely unacceptable, and we take allegations of this nature extremely seriously. We've suspended an individual whilst we investigate this matter further and have apologised to our customer for their experience.”

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