Jewish groups are accusing Frontier Airlines of anti-Semitism after the carrier canceled a Sunday flight from Miami to New York over a clash with a group of Hasidic Jewish travelers related to mask compliance.  

The Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Council has accused the Frontier cabin crew of “bigoted behavior.” But the airline says the passengers were deplaned because of a “continued refusal to comply with the federal mask mandate.”

The OJPAC, which shared video of the incident on Twitter, said that the dispute arose because cabin crew ordered a Hasidic Jewish couple to deplane because their 18-month-old child didn’t have a mask. Children under 2 are exempt from the federal transportation mask mandate.

The group also accused cabin crew of applauding, exchanging high-fives and congratulating one another as the passengers left the plane. OJPAC added that an Orthodox Jewish person defended the couple, and their extended family – who were masked – began leaving the plane, “at which point Frontier ordered everyone off the plane.”

Disturbing incident the last hour on a @FlyFrontier flight as staff told a Hasidic couple to get off because their 18 month old had no mask. Applause is heard as the couple started leaving. Travels say on camera that the applause came from staff who also cheered that “we did it.” pic.twitter.com/rA2JQmI1tU

Frontier disputed that narrative on Twitter as well as in a statement to USA TODAY.

“On Feb. 28, while Flight 2878 from Miami to New York-La Guardia was preparing to leave the gate, a large group of passengers repeatedly refused to comply with the U.S. government’s federal mask mandate,” spokesperson Jennifer de la Cruz told USA TODAY in an email. “Multiple people, including several adults, were asked repeatedly to wear their masks and refused to do so. Based on the continued refusal to comply with the federal mask mandate, refusal to disembark the aircraft and aggression towards the flight crew, local law enforcement was engaged. The flight was ultimately canceled.”

In a Sunday tweet, the airline said, “Repeated requests to comply with federal law necessitated their removal from the flight. The issue did not stem from a child under 2.”

Members of a large group, including adults, refused to wear masks as flight 2878 was preparing for departure from MIA-LGA. Repeated requests to comply with federal law necessitated their removal from the flight. The issue did not stem from a child under 2.

“Some people in that ‘group’ are not even family related,” OJPAC fired back after seeing Frontier’s tweet. “They are grouped together as Hasidim.” 

According to Chabad.org, Hasidim is the plural term for Hasid, a Jewish person who is devoted to “studying, contemplating, and internalizing Hasidic teachings.”

Hasidim has also been appropriated as a catch-all term used by outsiders to describe several different Jewish sects based on their attire and other common practices. 

OJPAC also called out Frontier for not addressing allegations by people on board about the crew’s attitude toward the passengers.

On Monday, the Anti-Defamation League New York/New Jersey called for a “full and transparent investigation.”

When asked about the allegations of anti-Semitism, de la Cruz said, “We review every situation where a passenger has to be removed from a flight.”

A visibly Jewish family was asked to leave a @FlyFrontier flight allegedly due to lack of mask compliance; while deplaning, apparent #antisemitic comments made by crew or others. @ADL formally calls for a full & transparent investigation https://t.co/6Y9yUkmZ8j

Though some Hasidic groups in New York have clashed with officials over COVID precautions like wearing masks, that was not the case on the Frontier flight, Hasidic passenger Martin Joseph told The New York Times.

“We’re law-abiding citizens,” he told the newspaper. “We have small children. We understand that the mask has to be worn, and everybody has to wear a mask and that’s the law. We comply one million percent.”

Contributing: Ryan Miller; Joseph SpectorJon Campbell, New York State Team

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