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Ukraine Airlines to compensate Israeli couple who staff insulted about money

In incident last year, staff made disparaging comments when Jewish travelers tried to avoid fee for exceeding hand luggage weight limit by 100 grams

Ukraine airlines (photo credit: Alec Wilson/ Wikipedia)
Ukraine airlines (photo credit: Alec Wilson/ Wikipedia)

An Israeli court has ordered Ukraine International Airlines to compensate a couple for humiliating comments made by its staff toward the travelers, which echoed anti-Semitic stereotypes about Jews and money.

The incident happened in April 2019, when the airline ended up refusing to fly the couple from Vienna to Tel Aviv via Kyiv, even though their suitcases were already on the plane, Globes reported Tuesday.

A Rishon Lezion small claims court recently ruled that the airline must pay them NIS 5,000 ($1,550), according to the report, which didn’t say when the ruling was handed down.

When the travelers arrived at the boarding gate and weighed their hand luggage, they were told that one of the items exceeded the weight limit by 100 grams and that they would have to pay an additional 60 euros ($73, NIS 236). They then attempted to avoid the fee by transferring items from one bag to another, the report said.

At that point, according to the travelers, airline staff started making racist remarks along the lines of “why do Jews always have a problem paying money?” The remarks were allegedly made in English, with additional amused remarks made in German in the presence of other passengers.

The couple were then told they wouldn’t be allowed on the plane, even though their checked luggage was already on it. The travelers said they were under the impression that the reason was overbooking, but the airline said the reason was the weight breach and their refusal to pay the additional sum, a claim accepted by the court.

The couple ended up buying new tickets for a flight the following day. They didn’t get their checked luggage until they arrived in Israel.

Ukraine International Airlines argued that the travelers had shouted and insulted the staff, rebuffing their attempt to restore order and requiring airport security to be called in. Due to their behavior, their suitcases weren’t taken off the plane, the company reportedly said.

The court concluded that even though the airline denied the denigrating remarks were made, it hadn’t contradicted the plaintiffs’ version and ordered the airline to pay NIS 2,000 to each of them, and an additional NIS 1,000 for the failure to hand over their checked luggage.

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