NEW YORK — Delta Airlines says they’re now investigating allegations of antisemitism against one of their flight attendants.
The investigation involves a flight to LaGuardia Airport on Monday night, in which a Hassidic Jewish passenger was ordered off the plane before it took off from Florida, but witnesses say the man did nothing wrong.
A passenger who pleaded with Eyewitness News to protect his privacy is sharing what he considers a very upsetting story.
The passenger, who happens to be a Hassidic Jew from Brooklyn, says it happened aboard Delta Flight 1541 Monday night from Fort Lauderdale to LaGuardia.
He said he was yelled at by one flight attendant over his hat box, which he stored in the overhead compartment.
“And she tells me, ‘You people always come with a lot of packages, take that hat box, put it under your seat,'” the passenger said. “And I told her clearly I will put it under my seat, voluntarily, I will put it under my seat, if needed.”
Eyewitness News spoke with three other passengers on the flight, none of them who know the man, including one who shot video showing how the compartment wasn’t overstuffed.
But also, Michelle Landsman, who was sitting a few rows back, said she couldn’t believe what she saw next.
“She took his bag in a rage for no reason,” Landsman said.
“So I went up from my seat, I walked behind her, ‘could I please have back my suitcase,’ she told me, ‘I will show you,'” the passenger said.
Soon after, a security supervisor, seen on video in a red jacket, was called and the passenger was told to leave the plane.
The other passenger who took the video said he’s Jewish as well, although not Hassidic.
“When she used the term, ‘You people..’ I was afraid she was gonna be aggressive to the point where I told my son, ‘Let’s be careful she doesn’t come after us.’ And I told him take his yarmulke off, so we don’t get targeted as well, I took my yarmulke off,” the other passenger said.
In a statement, Delta confirmed: “We are committed to using the result of this investigation to come to a full understanding of the events that took place and respond.”
Those events include their decision to remove the passenger.
Delta says it isn’t standard policy, but it’s certainly not unprecedented. A flight attendant can have a passenger removed from a plane, whether they are wrong or right.
And certainly if there is no choice, that is, if the plane is at a smaller airport, where they can’t replace that flight attendant.
But the passengers said the case in question goes well beyond that.
“I’m Jewish, I just felt terrible, I believe it’s an antisemitic act towards this man, or towards the Hassidim,” Landsman said.
Eyewitness News reporter Stacey Sager asked the passenger if he felt she singled him out.
“100 percent because I came up with a black hat, with a black jacket,” the passenger said.
He’s afraid it could happen again. Delta gave him a $500 voucher on Monday, but he flew home on American Airlines the next day instead.