Ultra-Orthodox couple sues JetBlue for $40 million: 'Taken off plane because we are Jews'

Michael Nektalov and Miryem Yushanayev from Queens filed a huge lawsuit against JetBlue for a 2021 incident, when the flight attendants took them off the plane, along with their five children, just before takeoff; They gave 'disdainful and dirty looks,' couple says

Daniel Edelson, New York |
An ultra-Orthodox Jewish couple from Queens is suing the American airline JetBlue for $40 million claiming they were kicked off one of the company's planes because they are Jewish. According to the statement of claim, which was submitted to Brooklyn Federal Court in New York, the couple, Michael Nektalov and Miryem Yushanayev, along with their five children, were returning from a vacation in Aruba in February 2021, and were taken off the plane to New York along with another Jewish family without any justifiable reason.
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The couple said that Miriam wore a head covering, her husband wore a kippa and had a long beard according to “the custom of our religious community,” and they spoke to each other in Hebrew, when the plane's crew looked at them with "disdainful and dirty looks" shortly after they boarded the flight.
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מטוס של חברת ג'ט בלו
מטוס של חברת ג'ט בלו
The couple is suing JetBlue for $40 million
(Photo: eddtoro / Shutterstock.com)
Before takeoff, the plane returned to the gate and, according to the indictment, when she asked one of the flight attendants what was causing the delay, she was told that "your mask slipped off your nose," a reference to the antisemitic canard about a large Jewish nose. After that, Miriam was asked to get off the plane, and when she argued about the decision, a flight attendant allegedly yelled at them that "if the family did not get off the plane, the entire plane would have to be deplaned.”
“In that moment, I felt as though we were in Nazi Germany, and that we were being isolated, vilified, and herded for disposal,” Nektalov said.
The airline said in response: “We do not tolerate discrimination of any kind at JetBlue. We take any claims such as these seriously and will work to fully understand the facts of what happened in this event."
The couple filed an initial lawsuit on the matter in 2022, but the court then asked them to submit additional documents. The two did not submit the documents on time and the case was dismissed. Now they have returned to another court, this time with a lawyer.
About a month ago, another incident occurred in the same company when three ultra-Orthodox passengers were taken off a flight that took off from the city of Palm Springs, California to New York on New Year's Eve. An elderly ultra-Orthodox passenger, who was accompanied by two women, tried to sit in vacant seats, apparently to avoid sitting next to a woman, but the flight attendant asked him to sit in his seat according to the ticket. The pilot, accompanied by a security guard, ordered the three to get off the plane.
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