Delta accused of antisemitism as 18 orthodox teenagers are kicked off two flights

Delta accused of antisemitism as 18 orthodox teenagers are kicked off two flights
Group purportedly kicked off second plane after offering to switch seats with woman onboard

Delta Airlines has been accused of antisemitism by a New York rabbi after a group of 18 Orthodox Jewish teenagers was kicked off two flights while returning to the US.

The teenagers, who were part of a bigger group, had been initially barred from boarding a flight from Amsterdam to New York on Thursday, Rabbi Yisroel Kahan, said on Twitter.

The group was reportedly banned following the first leg of their journey from Kyiv to Amsterdam, due to an alleged disagreement over Covid-19 protocols. Mr Kahan said the dispute involved alleged masks violations.

The Jerusalem Post reported that some of the girls had been eating their own food outside the designated mealtimes on the KLM-operated flight in partnership with Delta Airlines.

Their rabbi, Yisroel Kahan, told Business Insider that the group of teenagers was forced to sleep on benches at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport while he and a chaperone tried to find them another way home.

The rabbi said he called for the help of New York lawmakers, including Senator Chuck Schumer and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand to remedy the situation.

The group was said to have been re-booked on another Delta flight from Amsterdam to New York on Friday morning but was once again kicked off before take-off.

“Ten minutes later, the phone rings,” Mr Kahan told the outlet. “They’re being taken off the plane.”

This time, the girls were reportedly penalised for swapping seats with a woman who requested to sit next to her son.

“The minute they made the swap, a stewardess made a beeline to the girl and said, ‘You’re misbehaving, you’re kind of on thin ice, to begin with, get off the plane,” Mr Kahan said.

The woman who purportedly asked to swap seats was said to have been allowed to remain on the plane due to it being her “first transgression.”

Delta reportedly offered to re-book the girls on another flight. However, the departure conflicted with the beginning of Shabbat, the Jewish day of rest.

Mr Kahan accused the airline of antisemitism regarding the banning of the girls. “With antisemitism, if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck,” he told Insider.

“Either you’re telling me that you know that each and everyone one of them was violating rules on both flights,” he explained. “Or you’re telling me that you banned the entire group, a group of one ethnicity, for this misbehaviour.”

A spokesperson for the airline told The Independent: “We apologise to our customers on Delta Flight 47, Amsterdam to New York-JFK, who were delayed and inconvenienced to remove a group of passengers who refused to comply with crew instructions.”

They added: “The flight departed approximately two hours after its originally scheduled time.”

The group reportedly travelled home to New York with United Airlines on Sunday morning.