18 Jewish Girls Removed From Flight For Eating Kosher Food Outside Designated Meal Times

This story is just bizarre. A group of 50 passengers took KLM from Kyiv, Ukraine to Amsterdam where they were supposed to connected to a Delta flight to New York JFK.

Eighteen of the passengers didn’t make it out of Amsterdam, however, because the girls started eating their own Kosher food on their initial flight from Kiev, according to reports. KLM doesn’t offer kosher meals on its European service including Ukraine flights.

The issue, it seems, was masks – the girls removed their masks to eat their food and were told this was not permitted “outside the ‘official mealtime'” due to Covid protocols.

While it’s not clear which or how many girls in the group were eating against crewmember instructions, KLM appears to have taken 18 members of the group “indiscriminately in alphabetical order” and prevented those “with a surname from A to K” from connecting onward, involving law enforcement.

Initially they were told rebooking would cost €2000 apiece. KLM says that these were problem passengers on their July 20 outbound, and were given a “last warning” before they took off their masks to eat on the Kyiv – Amsterdam flight. Since they “did not follow the instructions of the crew and showed misbehavior on board” the 18 girls were “not allowed to travel on to New York.”

According to Delta Air Lines, which refused carriage to the girls,

The safety and well-being of our customers and our crew is always our top priority. Delta flight DL47 today from Amsterdam to New York-JFK was delayed after a group of passengers on board refused to follow the crew’s instructions. After the group refused to leave the plane, all passengers were asked to get off the plane, according to Delta’s protocol. At 12:40 PM local time, the re-boarding process was completed, without the group. We apologize to our customers for the delay and thank our customers for their patience and understanding.

The airline declined to rebook the passengers on the next flight which would arrive in New York prior to the start of Sabbath, and so they are spending the weekend near Amsterdam and plan to continue their journey Sunday.

Rabbi Yanki Jacobs of the Chabad on Campus in Amsterdam provided the girls with some glatt kosher food.

…For Shabbat, the girls are being transferred to Antwerp, a Belgian city with many Orthodox Jews. They will attempt to head back to the United States on Sunday.

In 2018 Delta was sued by a group of employees for anti-semitic discrimination, while in 2011 Delta was accused of anti-semitism for its partnership with Saudi Arabian’s national airline.

I wrote at the time that Delta doesn’t hate Jews. However they clearly lied in response to the incident claiming “Delta does not intend to codeshare or share reciprocal benefits, such as frequent flier benefits, with Saudi Arabian Airlines” when of course they were about to do just that as Saudia entered the SkyTeam alliance.

And of course Delta used racist tactics against Middle Easterners (though not Israelis) in their quest to profit by political rather than economic means shutting down competition from Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar.

(HT: Paddle Your Own Kanoo)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Having a designated meal time, when everyone has their mask off, seems to be a great way of facilitating the virus spread.

  2. Seems like this is more about taking off their masks when asked not to than being Jewish. What am I missing here?

  3. Are there really “designated mealtimes” on these flights? Other than ascending and landing protocols, I can’t understand the logic behind this.

    Will there be fewer Covid virus particles floating through the aluminum-tube-in-the-air when everyone eats together, at the same time, vs. if the eating times are staggered? Where is the science behind this logic? It would seem to me that random, ie, staggered eating is a better scenario, inasmuch as the ventilation system wouldn’t be overwhelmed with “all masks off” and “all masks on”. This thinking defies logic.

    On a side note: using Delta points I booked a Biz class trip from MEX to AMS on KLM. My thinking is that at least, in J, I can lie down and hide under my blanket with my mask off and get some sleep. I was going to change this for the 34K points r/t US to EU ‘deal’ Delta is running, albeit flying in coach, but now–I think not. I’d rather hide under my blanket in J, thank you very much.

  4. Making everyone take their mask off all at the same time seems like a terrible idea.

  5. Those who are trying to make this into something nefariously anti–semitic or weighing in with their medical “expertise” are missing the point. These girls had a history of defying crew instructions, noted by Delta, and again deliberately defied crew member instructions. AMS to JFK is a long flight, and having a large group of misbehaving, potentially seriously disruptive passengers on that flight was not in anyone’s interest. KLM and Delta acted appropriately, and hopefully the word will start to spread that defying crew member instructions is not taken lightly.

  6. Arrogant, irrational, and anti Semitic. I am so disgusted at so many levels I can hardly comment on this. The flight attendants and the airline should be ashamed to punish a bunch of girls who were hungry and just wanted to have a bite while on flight.
    It’s true that human stupidity has no limits…

  7. After your KLM designated official mealtime, will your designated official lavatory time be next?

  8. Human beings must be allowed to choose when they eat. There are a host of religious, dietary, and health reasons that people eat when and how they do and giving an airline the ability to control that is beyond insane.

  9. If being in bed with the Saudi government and Saudi flag carrier is anti-semitism, then the Israeli government is even more anti-semitic than Delta and/or KLM, as Netanyahu had Israel engaging on behalf of and with the Saudis in various ways that have been more extensive than DL’s “partnership” with Saudia.

    KLM’s lack of cooperation in providing free re-accommodation to these passengers is not anti-semitism. It’s KLM being KLM and hostile toward assisting passengers who missed a flight that KLM thought they should make or when they were known to have been removed by the operating carrier for violating the operating carrier’s “rule”.

    KLM and/or Delta making a fuss about when passengers can consume food and drink on a flight is not anti-semitism; it’s either the result of a power-tripping, poorly informed flight crew or the result of passengers failing to follow the crew member instructions about something that the passengers failed to do appropriately.

  10. “Designated mealtimes”? I have brought food on-board during all my flights in the covid era and have never seen or heard of this.
    Not sure I would want to fly an airline with designed meal times or schedules for potty time. 🙁

  11. Bizarre for sure. I love how people come on here, condemning one side or the other, based on a few “facts” they read here or elsewhere. You ever stop to think there might be more to the story? Those of you who do this, I wonder what you do for work. How would you like being judged by the court of public opinion, based on a scant few facts, when something you’re involved in goes bad.

  12. When an airline empowers unionized flight attendants and other employees, who essentially can’t be fired, as judge and jury to enforce mask requirements, this is what you get. At US airlines, flight attendants are currently empowered, with no due process, to ban passengers from future flights. This is a set-up for mistakes. There is a video floating around of Delta flight attendant banning a passenger from future travel because her mask said “MAGA,” rather than for not following mask requirements. There are also plenty of videos, mostly of other US airlines vs. Delta, of families being banned from future travel due to a toddler lifting his/her mask, as little kids do innocently.

    Empowering flight attendants to ban passengers as judge and jury with no due process is the problem here, not anti-Semitism. Trump supporters and families with toddlers have suffered from this bad mask policy, too

  13. Why aren’t you posting the statement by KLM you know the part that says “‘This is a group of adult passengers, no children.”. The fact that these are adults and not children misbehaving changes the story more than a bit. Keep in mind these are NY Orthodox jews. The very communities who openly flaunted covid rules in NYC and triggered waves of Covid across NYC. They are also one of the communities that continue to have the lowest vaccination rate in NYC. It seems clear they were warned on the prior flight about their behavior and they just kept at it. Not only that but they refused to get off the plane when directed to do so and the entire plane had to be deboarded. Good for the airline for kicking these ADULTS off the flight.

  14. ““Designated mealtimes”? I have brought food on-board during all my flights in the covid era and have never seen or heard of this.” – Sounds like they started breaking out the food immediately upon boarding, likely pulling down trays and taking masks off prior to takeoff. Maybe the air circulation wasn’t on because the engines weren’t powered up yet. This same group caused problems on their prior flight as well. Can think of a number of reasons why airline crew would not want a large group of people passing around food and having their meal when they are trying to get the plane ready for takeoff.

  15. Gary is after the clicks…”18 (insert race or religion) girls” gets more clicks than “18 girls”, even though this descriptor has nothing to do with the conflict in the story.
    They were kicked off for not following instructions.
    The story would have been sufficiently reported without having to say it was Kosher food, they were Jewish, they couldn’t fly on the sabbath, or that a rabbi provided them food afterwards, unless you were going for the “Delta is anti-semitic” meme.

  16. “Designated meal times” is a bit bizarre but what I think is that this is a cover for bad/rowdy behaviour by this group endangering the operation of the flight. If that is the case, they deserved to be left behind. Zionist trolls are already using the ‘anti-Semitic’ slur to excuse any type of misbehaviour by Jewish people.

  17. Rules are rules regardless of if we like them or not. Of course, when we don’t like them, it has to either be racial or political. It can never be about a non-compliant group of teens.

  18. “KLM doesn’t offer kosher meals on its European service including Ukraine flights.”

    Because of course they don’t. That way the passengers who are forced to bring their own kosher meals can defy the arbitrary rules and then be subject to the stern punishment that only a good Dutch company like KLM can mete out on its crappy ancient aircraft.

    BTW: Africans flying to/from Africa are generally treated even worse than this by the cruel KLM cabin crew. We’ve seen it happen.

  19. Thankfully they weren’t Muslims as there would be, at the least, threats of violent reprisals to both airlines.

  20. Is there a designated time to poop also? This is getting stupid. If you’re afraid of the boogeyman, stay the hell off of airplanes until November 2022 (midterms elections when hopefully all of this foolishness ends).

  21. So were the rest of the Orthodox Jews on the flight subjected to antisemitism, or did they just eat their kosher meal when appropriate, and follow crew member instructions?
    If these young women (they’re 18) decided it was worth getting kicked off the flight over eating when told to stop, well that’s their choice. The FAs gave them options and they chose poorly.

    Keep in mind there was a huge coronavirus outbreak in the NYC Jewish community last year because they didn’t want to follow rules/guidelines. So this reminds me of how they seem to try to impose their religious freedom over following simple instructions.

  22. This is KLM’s written policy for wearing face masks as of this moment.

    “Wearing facial protection during boarding and on board is mandatory for KLM passengers. Passengers must ensure that they carry the required facial protection with them. Cabin crew of course also wear facial protection.

    Facial protection refers to non-medical face masks and to surgical face masks. The mask has to be large enough to cover the wearer’s entire nose and mouth.

    Passengers who do not wear adequate facial protection/mouth masks may be refused boarding at the gate.

    For airlines, flying during the corona crisis means operating under exceptional circumstances. The current situation calls for a series of measures KLM is taking in order to safely and healthily carry out its operation for passengers and crew. The obligation to wear facial protection is part of this. Other measures include aircraft being cleaned more frequently and thoroughly and keeping contact moments between crew and passengers during the flight to a minimum. In addition, passengers from high-risk areas will have to fill in a health declaration to assess whether they are fit to fly.

    Exceptions

    Children up to 10 years of age do not have to wear a mouth cap on board.To continue to guarantee the safety of our customers and crew, KLM requires customers who cannot wear a mouth mask for medical reasons, a negative PCR test and a doctor’s certificate in English or Dutch. This measure will take effect as of 21 September 2020.The negative test may not be older than 72 hours before the start of the outward or return journey. The doctor’s certificate may be in English and the form is available for customers at klm.com. Without a medical certificate and a negative PCR test, customers will not be allowed on board.

    The risk of contamination on board aircraft is low. Modern aircraft are equipped with High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters, which provide clean, high-quality cabin air with a high degree of air circulation. The air is replaced every three minutes by the aircraft’s built-in air supply system. The air flow in the aircraft goes from top to bottom, which further reduces the chance of ‘horizontal’ transmission in the cabin. Moreover, the air flows quickly, which is not conducive to the dispersion of droplets. Furthermore, the passengers all sit with their faces in the same direction, so there is little face-to-face interaction, and the seats form a barrier to the transmission forward or backward in the cabin.”

    Please note that there is nothing in their rules about eating and drinking or about designated times for eating and drinking, which as others have said above would be a terrible idea, to which I concur.

    Here is a video explaining their mask rules, put out by KLM themselves. Please note it discusses eating and drinking, but like the above written policy makes no statement about designated times to eat or drink.

    https://fb.watch/7eF2gpujbQ/

    To me, I have no idea if antisemitism was involved or not, but after digging into this since the story broke I have concluded that KLM was at their worst, and considering its KLM, that’s bad, very bad, and that the flight crew decided to act like the police without authority to do so. They made up the rule on the fly. They treated these women differently than on other KLM flights with other flight crews. That is wrong. As far as the motives for this, I can’t speculate.

  23. As others mentioned – “designated meal times” (?). Simply priceless LOL, the creativity airlines keep coming up with this stuff.

    We need video here to know better what happened for real – hope video will surface.

    Also – @ Indopithecus wins comment of the day for whining about “trolls” while being a massive troll 🙂

  24. So these dopey girls ‘misbehaved’ on their outbound flight to the point where they were ‘remembered’ on the return. What possible reason could a bunch of ‘girls’ have for disobeying orders from a flight crew? The more the non-WASP people complain of bias against them, the dumber they seem. It’s not bias, guys, it’s your sense of entitlement that’s the problem. Wake up.

  25. I agree with those who have commented on “official meal times.” I have never heard of that, and it’s a really bad idea on a long haul flight. Any number of passengers are going to have health or religious reasons for needing to eat at certain times, or people simply get hungry. I withhold judgement on the treatment of the women, as I wasn’t there to see what they were saying or doing, but the explanation sure sounds made up.

  26. Wow. A bit of racism here in these comments. For example, the phrase “Zionist trolls”….or the conflation of this story with irrelevant other news items such as a covid outbreak in Jewish New York….or insinuating that Muslims always threaten violence. Yeesh.

    It is true that large groups of Orthodox Jews sometimes do some very eccentric things on an airplane. Many times I’ve witnessed it.

    But I really hope VFTW will moderate and delete some of these comments – they are flirting on the border of a dark place.

    Here’s my take, also a cultural observation but a very true one, especially based on multiple experiences during travel: Dutch people are STRICT. It’s famously a “liberal” country but not really, when you get to know them well. They are thoroughly obedient and unforgiving about “the rules”.

    It’s very hard to tell from the story what really happened without more context from passenger witnesses.

  27. I notice that the “designated meal time” story comes from the trip leader, not the airline. Has anyone heard of strictly enforced eating times on any airline in the last 18 months? Surely they’d be mentioned in KLM’s Covid guidance.

    It sounds like a pretty big reach to paint the group in a more sympathetic light… especially considering Delta’s revelation that they had problems too on the outbound.

  28. There is probably more to this story than has been told.
    Of course disobeying crew instructions is definitely grounds for getting off-loaded.
    That said, KLM is a pretty awful airline and treat all pax equally badly.

  29. They were actually put on a second flight and kicked off that one as well because a girl changed seats with someone in order for the woman to be near her son, then only these girls were thrown off not the woman and her son.. very creepy story. Also out of a large group of Abt 55 they choose the first 18 names. Why oh why punish random people??!

  30. So a group that thinks they are above the rules were put in their place and immediately pulled the antisemitism card, which they know usually works as an excuse.

    Good on KLM/Delta.

  31. A news article from the Netherlands reported that these individuals were roaming through the aisles without their masks…. So yeah, it was more of not complying with the mask rule for these unruly passengers.

  32. The second flight story actually reflects more poorly on the airline than the first.

    From what I can tell in the news, on the second flight, some random passenger asked a girl or two to trade seats….they said okay…. somehow the FAs ended up removing the entire group again – and letting the original seat swapper to stay on.

    The new flight crew seems to have been made aware of this group on their flight, and probably had a bias against them from the moment of boarding, and then decided to punish these people again with a hair trigger.

    FAs are a lot like cops to be honest. They make snap decisions about who is right and who is wrong and very often their biases get in the way of their judgment.

    I can’t imagine why seed swapping would result in the removal of 18 people. It’s complete overkill. My hunch is that flight attendants have very very short tempers these days and are going overboard with their broad authority.

    I’m pretty sure Delta’s initial statement about passengers disobeying crew instructions will not age well.

  33. Of course it now emerges that the eating incident was not about eating outside of any (non-existent) inflight “designated mail time”; rather, they were eating during boarding despite repeated exhortations from crew to stop.

    Disappointing they chose to present it to the press they way that they did.

  34. Delta, surprising. The same airline that wouldn’t let me use the restroom while the seat belt light was off a few months ago because I’m disabled and have to use my cane to walk. Apparently it’s too much to ask a flight attendant to get my cane from the over head approx.10 rows behind me where THEY stowed it making it accessible to me. The flight attendant “didn’t have time”, which really means the flight attendant “is lazy and discriminates against disabled passengers”. Delta flat out hates disabled people, it’s no surprise they also hate people because of their religion.

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