London – Mandy Blumenthal was shocked to find herself stopped from buying a returning flight ticket by Kuwait Airways at Heathrow Airport in London. She was planning on returning to Bangkok and, at first, received kind service from the Airways representative, but an unexpected turn saw her suing the airlines.
The event occurred last November and now, after Blumenthal’s claim was picked up by the UK Lawyers for Israel, Kuwait Airways has agreed to pay her damages and costs. They have not, however, admitted liability.
Once her Israeli passport was presented at the counter, service to Blumenthal was refused. The Kuwait Airways ticket clerk repeatedly said, as seen in the video documentation of the incident, “Israeli passport holders are not permitted to travel on Kuwait Airways.”
Blumenthal, shocked, turned to an airport supervisor at Heathrow Airport, who was equally baffled. She did not seem to understand how someone could be refused service because of their nationality.
Blumenthal’s claim was of damages for racial discrimination and harassment. UK Lawyers for Israel, a voluntary organization of Israel-supporting lawyers, facilitated by organizing her legal representation by barristers John Bowers QC and Benjamin Gray, and David Berens of Fuglers Soliciters.
“It is horrible to be singled out,” said Blumenthal. “In my mind, it is an antisemitic policy to single out the only Jewish State.”
“Ms. Blumenthal has done a service in showing up Kuwait Airways’ illegal policy,” David Berens said. “Kuwait Airways is now legally obliged to end this policy or end its services from the UK altogether.”
There have been several other complaints against the airline around the world. The Lawfare Project, a legal think tank and litigation fund that supports cases against antisemitic discrimination, filed a complaint against Kuwait Airways in 2015.
Following their work, the US Department of Transportation ordered the airline to allow Israelis on its flights from the US to London or risk termination of its US operations.
In response, Kuwait Airways cancelled all flights from New York to London.
When the Lawfare Project began another legal action against the airline in Geneva, the company halted all internal European routes.
A third claim by the Project was in Germany in relation to flights from Frankfurt to Bangkok via Kuwait. The Frankfurt court rejected the claim, triggering controversy. An appeal hearing is scheduled in September.
“It’s hard to believe that in 2018, an airline operating at Heathrow can ban passengers on no other basis than their nationality,” said Director of the Lawfare Project Brooke Goldstein. “The airline’s discriminatory policy should have no place in a free society.”