An entire class of students from Yeshivah of Flatbush were booted off an AirTran flight because they were “noncompliant passengers.
A class of Orthodox Jewish students and their chaperones say they were unfairly removed from their flight. AirTran says the students were “noncompliant passengers.”
A senior class trip was grounded after 101 students and eight chaperones were kicked off their flight.
The International Business Times reported that students from Yeshivah of Flatbush, an Orthodox Jewish high school in Brooklyn, New York, were bound for Atlanta Monday. But the crew aboard their AirTran flight asked the seniors to get off.
The students planned to go to Atlanta to visit the Six Flags theme park and go rafting.
A statement from Southwest Airlines, which owns AirTran, says the flight crew was responding to “noncompliant passengers.”
“Reports from Flight Attendants and other Customers confirm some passengers in the group would not sit down in their seats and some were using their mobile devices. Both are violations of Federal Air Regulations, as well as our policies,” the statement says.
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The students and their chaperones told CNN they believe the crew overreacted.
In a statement, Rabbi Seth Linfield, executive director of the school, said, “We take this matter seriously and have already opened our own investigation” but that “it does not appear that the action taken by the flight crew was justified.”
The statement says the school will work with both the airline and the chaperones to figure out what happened on the flight.
Chaperones told CNN that some students may have needed to be told twice to sit and turn off their phones, but that flight attendants were “nasty” and “created an incident when there didn’t have to be one.”
Southwest said in its statement that “the Crew, led by the Captain, asked several times that the passengers comply with regulations. The issue ultimately delayed the flight’s departure.”
But some members of the group are saying they feel as if they were targeted for being Jewish.
“They treated us like we were terrorists,” student Jonathan Zehavi told CNN.
Southwest placed the students and chaperones on other flights, but the group had to be split up and spend hours more traveling. The group also got vouchers for future flights.
One chaperone, Rabbi Joseph Beyda, posted on Twitter Tuesday morning about “whitewater rafting in Milwaukee!!” with a picture of the group waiting in an airport.