Assemblymembers Daniel Rosenthal (D-Queens), Amy Paulin (D- Westchester), Simcha Eichenstein (D- Brooklyn), and Senator Simcha Felder (D-Brooklyn), wrote a letter to Rick Cotton, Executive Director of the Port Authority of NY & NJ and Steve Dickson, Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, urging them to conduct an investigation on recent allegations of anti-Semitic actions taken by airlines.
The lawmakers referenced two recent incidents of forced deplaning by Spirit Airlines and Frontier Airlines on flights originating from the New York area. In both cases, visibly Jewish passengers were aggressively forced to deplane by airline staff for alleged non-compliance with the federal mask mandate. Video evidence and witnesses claim that adult passengers were in full compliance, and the complaints were directed at small accompanying children. Federal law allows for children under the age of 2 to fly without masks and for mask removal during consumption of food and water. In one instance, the targeted passenger was under 2, and in the second case the child was a few weeks over the age of 2.
Circulated video footage shows hostilities between the visibly Jewish families and airline staff, with fellow passengers also expressing concern with the aggressive nature of the enforcement. Allegations of anti-Semitic and targeted enforcement have been made against both airlines. The lawmakers urged a thorough investigation by the authority, which oversees airports for both New York and New Jersey and by the FAA.
“The recent actions taken by Spirit and Frontier Airlines are deeply concerning,” said Assemblymember Daniel Rosenthal. “To target Jewish families and justify this behavior with improper enforcement of federal guidelines is reprehensible. We support and encourage collective action to combat this pandemic, but these instances were clearly motivated by bias and not by a concern for public health. I stand by my colleagues in calling for a thorough investigation into these instances to affirm that we will not abide any form of hatred in New York.”
“Spirit and Frontier Airlines have shown a reprehensible pattern of discrimination, which cannot be allowed to stand. Their repeated targeting of Orthodox Jewish passengers for supposed mask noncompliance is unacceptable and must be investigated by the Federal Aviation Administration and the Port Authority,” said Assemblyman Simcha Eichenstein. “The Port Authority of NY and NJ should not conduct business with any entities that deliberately discriminate against any group of people.”