Frontier Airlines is facing claims of anti-Semitism after a routine flight from Miami to New York City was canceled on Sunday due to maskless passengers, the New York Times is reporting.
Passengers had boarded flight 2878 from Miami International Airport to LaGuardia Airport and were preparing for the three-hour trip north when a confrontation erupted between a group of Hasidic Jewish passengers and crew members that resulted in the group’s ejection from the flight.
“Multiple people, including several adults, were asked repeatedly to wear their masks and refused to do so,” Frontier spokesperson Jennifer De La Cruz told Insider. “Based on the continued refusal to comply with the federal mask mandate, refusal to disembark the aircraft and aggression towards the flight crew, local law enforcement was engaged. The flight was ultimately canceled.”
Martin Joseph, a member of the 21-person group, denied the airline’s account and claims the issue initially stemmed from his 15-month-old child not wearing a mask while eating, he told the Times. After members of Joseph’s group defended the child, citing the federal government’s exemption for children under two, his family and nearby couples were removed from the flight,
“We understand that the mask has to be worn, and everybody has to wear a mask and that’s the law,” Joseph told the Times.
Frontier has required passengers to wear masks and undergo a temperature screening before boarding since the spring. The mask rule was later reinforced by executive action from President Joe Biden in January and specifically exempted children under two years of age.
Frontier’s policy echoes the government policy but the airline is holding firm on its account that the escalation came as a result of adults not wearing masks and not just the 15-month-old child.
“The issue did not stem from a child under two,” Frontier said in a tweet that has since received over 3,000 replies at the time of writing.
Other passengers say that Joseph’s group had been wearing masks during their interactions with the crew, who had reportedly high-fived each other after removing the group from the plane, spurring claims of anti-Semitism. One passenger screamed, “this is Nazi Germany,” as the passengers were deplaning, according to a video posted to Twitter by the Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Council.
The Anti-Defamation League of New York is calling for an investigation into the incident.
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