A Russian airline forced five Asian-American passengers to fly to Delhi instead of New York because of their skin colour, according to a racial discrimination complaint.
Aeroflot staff warned the US citizens, all of south Asian descent, they would be “deported” to India if they refused to board the flight.
The Americans were travelling from Delhi to the US on 7 January but were stranded during a stopover in Moscow when their connecting flight to JFK International Airport was cancelled due to heavy snow in New York.
Aeroflot told them there were no available seats on alternative flights and they would not be provided with any accommodation in Moscow.
But the airline is alleged to have offered alternative connections to the US to white Americans who had been on the same flight.
The Asian American passengers were also denied transit visas, meaning under Russian law they could not leave Sheremetyevo Airport or remain in the country for longer than 24 hours.
An Aeroflot employee told the group they instead had to “go back to India” on a later flight or face being forcibly “deported” to India by Russian officials, according to a formal complaint filed by lawyers acting for the passengers.