By Jackie Hajdenberg
Nearly seven months after they were denied boarding in Frankfurt, a group of more than 100 Chasidic Lufthansa passengers is getting paid for its troubles.
The airline is paying each passenger $20,000 plus giving them $1,000 to reimburse them for expenses incurred during the May incident, according to Dan’s Deals, the discount travel website that first reported the incident at the time. After legal fees and some other expenses, each passenger will net approximately $17,400, the site is reporting.
Lufthansa would not confirm the dollar figures but said that it is seeking to settle with each of the affected passengers, capping a series of conciliatory responses to the incident.
“Although we are not commenting on the details, we can confirm that Lufthansa endeavors to settle the claims with all of the passengers denied boarding on May 4th, 2022,” the company said in a statement.
That date was when airline agents in Frankfurt barred many Jewish travelers coming from New York City from boarding their connecting flight to Budapest, citing the fact that some of the passengers were not wearing masks, as was required at the time. But that rule was applied inconsistently, passengers said at the time, and a Lufthansa supervisor was caught on video speaking disparagingly about Jewish passengers as a group.
“It’s Jews coming from JFK. Jewish people who were the mess, who made the problems,” the supervisor said on the video, which Dan’s Deals shared shortly after the incident.
Amid intense media coverage, Lufthansa publicly apologized, saying in a statement that the company “regrets the circumstances surrounding the decision to exclude the affected passengers from the flight.”
The company added, “What transpired is not consistent with Lufthansa’s policies or values. We have zero tolerance for racism, anti-Semitism and discrimination of any type.”
In late July, Lufthansa announced the creation of a senior management role to combat discrimination and antisemitism, even as an independent investigation commissioned by the airline concluded that there was no evidence of institutional antisemitism that led to the incident.
And in September, the American Jewish Committee announced a new program to train Lufthansa employees how to identify and respond to antisemitism.
Many of the Jewish passengers bound for Budapest were headed there for an annual pilgrimage to visit the grave of Rabbi Yeshayah Steiner, a miracle-working rabbi who died in 1925.