A group of 101 students and eight chaperones were kicked off an early morning AirTran flight before scheduled departure on Monday. The Yeshivah of Flatbush, an Orthodox Jewish high school, students were leaving Brooklyn and flying to Atlanta for a white-water raft trip and a day at Six Flags.
The students were kicked off the flight after being given numerous chances to comply with flight crew instructions. They were then split up and given seats on other flights, one of which stopped in Milwaukee.
Southwest, which owns AirTran, said the group of “non-compliant passengers” would not stay seated, and some were using their mobile devices after being asked not to. According to a statement from AirTran, “Both are violations of Federal Air Regulations, as well as our policies.”
When the students failed to comply with requests from the flight crew, including the captain, they were asked to leave the plane, delaying the AirTran flight for 45 minutes, Southwest spokesman Brad Hawkins told CNN.
“I have no indication that the flight attendants overreacted,” Hawkins said. “The point at which the captain comes on the PA system and says, ‘You all need to sit down’ is unusual.”
“It blew out of proportion. It was a mountain out of a molehill,” said teacher Marian Wielgus, one of the chaperones. She said some students may have had to be told twice to sit down or turn off their phones, but everyone listened. “They certainly did not do what the stewardess was claiming they did,” she adds. “That’s what was so bizarre.”
Student Jonathan Zehavi said he felt they were targeted because they are an identifiably Jewish group. “They treated us like we were terrorists; I’ve never seen anything like it. I’m not someone to make these kinds of statements,” Zehavi said. “I think if it was a group of non-religious kids, the air stewardess wouldn’t have dared to kick them off.”
“We take this matter seriously and have started our own investigation,” said a statement released Tuesday by Rabbi Seth Linfield, executive director of the Yeshiva of Flatbush school. “Preliminary, it does not appear that the action taken by the flight crew was justified.”
While the airline did place the students on other flights, it resulted in an extra 12 hours for some to reach the destination. To smooth things over, Southwest Airlines offered vouchers for future air travel to the faculty and students.
101 students kicked off airplane.
Students and chaperones on a school trip were kicked off a flight from New York to Atlanta.
Woman Kicked off Plane for Singing Whitney Houston’s iconic song, ‘I Will Always Love You’
Southwest Flight Makes an Emergency Landing After Unruly Behavior
Savannah Barry, 16-year old Blames TSA for Breaking Insulin Pump
TSA to Allow Small Knives in Carry-on Effective April 25, 2013