101 students, and eight chaperones were kicked off of a flight Monday. The flight was departing from New York, its destination Atlanta, when the incident occurred.
The ‘AirTran’ flight, which is a subsidiary of Southwest, is now being investigated by the school.
The students were members of Yeshiva of Flatbush school, an Orthodox Jewish high school.
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. 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, said Southwest spokesman Brad Hawkins.
A statement released Tuesday by Rabbi Seth Linfield, executive director of the school said: “We take this matter seriously and have started our own investigation. Preliminarily, it does not appear that the action taken by the flight crew was justified.”
Chaperones claimed that the crew overreacted. The high school seniors were going to “Six Flags,” and then on a rafting trip. They said the students were asked twice to take their seats, and turn off their electronic devices. After the second request, they all complied.
Teacher Marian Wielgus tells WGNTV: “They certainly did not do what the stewardess was claiming they did. That’s what was so bizarre.”
Wielgus insisted that one particular flight attendant was rude and condescending towards the seniors.
One student claimed that they were mistreated because of their Jewish heritage.
“They treated us like we were terrorists; I’ve never seen anything like it. I’m not someone to make these kinds of statements,” student Johathan Zehavi said. “I think if it was a group of non-religious kids, the air stewardess wouldn’t have dared to kick them off.”
Another student said she was one of the first to be kicked off the aircraft. She claims she wasn’t given an opportunity to turn off her phone. She said one particular flight attendant appeared to be at the center of the incident. She went to the cockpit to inform the captain that they were being uncooperative. He came out at the last second and told them to leave the aircraft.
Students within the group said that after they deplaned, customer service helped them get flights as soon as possible. They had to be split into two groups.
A spokesman for Southwest said that they are sticking by their decision.
Questions about why the 109 students and their chaperones were kicked off are under investigation. I’m sure there will be more to come.
The Guardian Express