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A Jewish passenger is suing JetBlue claiming religious discrimination after he was thrown off a plane following his refusal to sit next to a woman

A Jewish passenger is suing JetBlue claiming religious discrimination after he was thrown off a plane following his refusal to sit next to a woman
  • An Orthodox Jewish passenger claims he was thrown off a JetBlue plane for trying to change seats.

  • The passenger had explained to staff that he couldn't sit next to a woman due to his religious beliefs, per the lawsuit.

  • The man and his two travel companions had to pay to change their flights, the lawsuit says.

An Orthodox Jewish passenger is suing JetBlue, accusing the airline of religious discrimination, claiming that he was thrown off a plane for trying to change seats after refusing to sit next to a woman.

Abraham Lunger, an Orthodox Jew, was set to take a redeye flight from Palm Springs International Airport to John F. Kennedy International Airport on December 31, 2023, according to a lawsuit.

Because of his religious beliefs, he can only sit next to a woman if she is a blood relative or his wife, the lawsuit says.

The couple weren't assigned seats in advance, according to the lawsuit, filed in the US District Court Southern District of New York on February 27. His wife asked a JetBlue ticket agent at the gate prior to boarding if Lunger could be seated next to either her or a man because of his religious beliefs, and was told that they could try to arrange with other passengers to swap, per the lawsuit.

But the couple weren't seated together. Lunger took his seat but then saw that a woman was about to sit in the seat next to him, according to the lawsuit. He "quietly got up from his seat and stood in the aisle," the lawsuit says.

But before he was able to ask another passenger to change seats, a flight attendant "yelled" at him to return to his seat, the lawsuit says. Lunger explained to the attendant that he was trying to change seats due to his religious beliefs, but she "refused to accept that explanation and attempted to prevent Mr. Lunger from switching seats with another passenger who had agreed to switch seats," according to the lawsuit. Other passengers who overheard this conversation also offered to swap seats, per the lawsuit.

The plane's pilot then told Lunger and his travel companions — his wife and another woman — that Lunger couldn't change seats because it would cause a weight imbalance, the lawsuit says.

Lunger never forced other passengers to change seats with him or used a loud or stern voice, the lawsuit says. But the pilot told Lunger, his wife, and their other travel companion that they had to get off the plane, saying it wouldn't leave with them on board, according to the lawsuit. Other passengers who had switched seats weren't asked to leave, the lawsuit says.

Lunger and his two travel companions were told that they weren't allowed to collect their suitcases and wouldn't be provided with overnight accommodation, food, or transport, the lawsuit says. Per the lawsuit, they booked alternate tickets for the next day and had to pay both the price difference and a ticket change charge.

"JetBlue is proud to serve millions of customers each year from many different backgrounds. We do our best to accommodate our customers' various requests while ensuring all customers are provided the experience they are expecting from JetBlue," the airline said in a statement, adding that it could not comment further due to pending litigation.

The lawsuit, which accused JetBlue of religious and racial discrimination, seeks compensatory damages, punitive damages, and attorneys' fees and costs.

Read the original article on Business Insider