(photo credit: REUTERS/Tom Gannam)
A group of 101 yeshiva students and their eight accompanying chaperones were
asked to remove themselves from an airplane scheduled to fly from New York to
Atlanta Monday morning, CNN reported.
Southwest Airlines reportedly said
the group of “noncompliant passengers” would not remain seated or stop using
their mobile devices.
Once the students failed to comply, they were asked
to leave the aircraft. The dispute caused the flight to be delayed 45 minutes,
Southwest spokesman Brad Hawkins told the television channel.
from Yeshivah of Flatbush, an Orthodox Jewish high school in Brooklyn,
apparently said the flight crew overreacted to the excitement of the students
who were looking forward to their school trip which included a day at Six Flags
“It blew out of proportion.
It was a mountain out of a
molehill,” a teacher and chaperone of the school trip Marian Wielgus reportedly
According to Wielgus, the students were asked more than once to
sit down and shut off their mobile telephones.
“They certainly did not do
what the stewardess was claiming they did,” she told CNN. “That’s what was so
Wielgus also reportedly said the flight attendants were “nasty”
and “created an incident when there didn’t have to be one.”
Southwest Airlines, the group violated safety regulations.
chaperone, Rabbi Joseph Beyda, said that none of the students on the plane was
When he saw that the flight attendant was
frustrated and was asking students to leave, he asked which kids were causing
issues and offered to help, but she refused.
“They just simply said ‘get
off the plane,’” CNN reported Beyda as saying.
Student Jonathan Zehavi
told the news network that he felt they were targeted because they are
“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
reportedly said. “I think if it was a group of non-religious kids, the air
stewardess wouldn’t have dared to kick them off.”
Both Beyda and Mamiye
told CNN the airline did their best to accommodate the group by getting them on
the next available flights.
But the group had to be split up – some had
connecting flights– and they were in transit for a total of 12 hours.