Three Orthodox Jewish passengers kicked off flight on New Year’s Eve

Several of the passengers on the flight said the decision seemed to have been motivated by antisemitism. 

By Vered Weiss, World Israel News

Three Orthodox Jewish passengers were thrown off a Jet Blue flight late on New Year’s Eve after one of them attempted to change seats for religious reasons, as reported by The Forward.

Several of the passengers said the decision seemed to have been motivated by antisemitism.

In an audio recording of the incident provided by the Lakewood Scoop the JetBlue pilot can be heard saying to the passengers who were asked to leave, “My inflight crew tells me they do not want to have you on their plane. I have to support them.”

The controversy began when an elderly ultra-Orthodox Jewish man sat in a vacant seat, and when the flight attendant asked if it was his assigned seat, he replied “no” and was told he had to return to the right place.

Two Orthodox Jewish women told the flight attendant that the man was sitting in the vacant seat “for religious reasons” because presumably, his assigned seat was next to a woman.

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The man attempted to take another vacant seat, but the flight attendant ordered him to return to his assigned seat.

The problem seemed to have been solved when a passenger named Ron Passaro offered to take the elderly Jewish man’s assigned seat and give him an aisle seat.

One of the Orthodox Jewish women told Passaro, “You’re a hero to me.”

Although the issue seemed to have been settled, the flight attendant and a security officer told the elderly Jewish man and the two Orthodox women that they had to leave the plane. 

The captain said the crew informed him they were “uncomfortable” with the three people on the plane.

The security official said, “Changing seats is a violation when it comes to weight imbalance. You have to sit in your assigned seats.”

Passaro told the Forward that the weight issue seemed like an excuse since the passengers were “if anything, svelte.”

One of the Orthodox women said, “Did he shoot? Did he do anything, did he touch anybody? He did nothing. It’s just for religious purposes. Do we look dangerous?”

She added, “It’s antisemitism.”

Passaro’s girlfriend Rachel Sklar posted about the incident on X and wrote, “They said obviously this is clearly antisemitism, and I was like, ‘It sure seems like it to me.’”

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Sklar added, “The whole thing was really upsetting. It seemed very unnecessary and kind of bewildering.”