18 Orthodox Jewish girls took off from Amsterdam-NY flight amid COVID protocol dispute
JTA – Dutch police at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport on Friday removed 18 Orthodox Jewish girls from a Delta-KLM flight to New York, allegedly because they failed to comply with COVID-19 measures regarding meals at prohibited times.
The girls were part of a group of around 50 traveling from Kiev, Ukraine, with a stopover in Amsterdam, the Dutch Jewish weekly NIW reported on Friday. On the Amsterdam-New York leg of the trip, which was operated by Delta Airlines in partnership with KLM, some of the girls began to eat their own food outside of the designated mealtime, allegedly because the flight was not carrying of food that meets the strict kosher standards of their community.
When the girls did not respond to requests to put away their food, flight attendants called the police to remove the passengers.
“A group of passengers refused to follow our staff’s instructions and were escorted off the plane,” Delta told NIW.
The group was also denied in its request to board a subsequent flight that would still have brought them to New York before the start of Shabbat, when observant Jews are not allowed to travel by plane.
Rabbi Yanki Jacobs of the Chabad on the Amsterdam campus provided the girls with kosher glatt food.
Relatives of the girls said the flight attendants were rude and impatient. Herman Loonstein, a prominent Dutch Jewish lawyer, volunteered to represent the girls in talks with Delta.
For Shabbat, the girls are transferred to Antwerp, a Belgian city with many Orthodox Jews. They will attempt to return to the United States on Sunday.