Michael Nektalov and Miryem Yushanaye, have submitted a $40 million lawsuit against the JetBlue airline company for an incident that occurred in 2021, when the crew allegedly removed them and their five children from the flight, only a moment before takeoff. “They looked at us with disdainful and dirty looks,” claims the couple from Queens, New York.
The couple said they were returning from a vacation in Aruba to New York in February 2021, and together with another Jewish couple were removed from the flight, for no justified reason.
They added that they were obviously Jewish, as both parents were dressed according to Jewish tradition – Miryem was wearing a head scarf and Michael had a skullcap and a long beard.
Before takeoff, the aircraft returned to the gate, and according to the lawsuit, when Yushanaye asked one of the flight attendants what was causing the delay, she was told that "her mask had slipped off her nose." She felt that this was a reference to the antisemitic stigma of a large Jewish nose. She was then asked to get off the plane, and when she argued, one of the stewards allegedly yelled at them that "if the family doesn't get off the plane, everyone would have to leave the plane."
"At that moment I felt as if we were in Nazi Germany, and that they were isolating us, slandering us, and dragging us through the garbage," Nektalov said.
JetBlue responded, saying: “We do not tolerate discrimination of any kind at JetBlue. We take such claims seriously and will work to fully understand the facts of what happened in this event."
The couple originally submitted their lawsuit in 2022 but the court ruled that they had to submit additional documents. The couple was late in submitting these documents and the case was postponed. They have now resubmitted their claim with the help of a lawyer.
A similar incident occurred about a month ago with the same company when three haredi passengers were taken off a New Year's Eve flight from Palm Springs, California to New York. An elderly haredi passenger, who was accompanied by two women, tried to sit in a vacant seat, allegedly to avoid sitting next to a woman, but the flight attendant asked him to sit in his original seat according to the ticket. The pilot, accompanied by a security guard, ordered the three to get off the plane.