101 students from the Yeshiva of Flatbush, an Orthodox high school in Brooklyn, were thrown off an AirTran flight to Atlanta earlier this week after some of the students allegedly failed to follow AirTran and FAA behavior rules.
Modern Orthodox High School Students Booted Off AirTran Flight For Allegedly Disruptive Behavior
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
101 students from the Yeshiva of Flatbush, an Orthodox high school in Brooklyn, were thrown off an AirTran flight to Atlanta earlier this week after some of the students allegedly failed to follow AirTran and FAA behavior rules, both CNN and the NY Daily News report.
The students are all seniors and were on a senior class trip to the Six Flags amusement park near Atlanta. They were chaperoned by 8 yeshiva teachers.
The students who have spoken to the media so far and the chaperones complain that AirTran treated them “like terrorists” and allege antisemitism.
“I think if it was a group of non-religious kids, the air stewardess wouldn't have dared to kick them off,” one student said.
"We were more behaved than kids should be,” said another.
Chaperones, which included rabbis, seemed bewildered by AirTran’s actions and clearly were not paying close attention to what the students were doing.
Rabbi Joseph Beyda said that when he saw that the flight attendant was flustered and had asked students to leave, he asked which kids were causing issues and offered to help. He claims the flight attendant summarily refused.
"They just simply said 'get off the plane,'" Beyda claimed, adding that none of the students seemed to be particularly loud or disruptive.
AirTran strongly rejected any notion that the 4:00 am expulsions were antisemitic or discriminatory.
“The sole reason these customers were removed from the aircraft was due to their behavior. Anything otherwise is unfounded and offensive,” AirTran spokeswoman Whitney Eichinger said in an email to the Daily News.
The students repeatedly ignored orders to stay in their seats and turn off their cell phones.
“Both are violations of federal air regulations, as well as our policies. The crew, led by the captain, asked several times that the passengers comply with regulations,” Eichinger said.
"It blew out of proportion. It was a mountain out of a molehill," Marian Wielgus, a teacher at the yeshiva who was acting as a group chaperone said.
Some students may have needed to be told more than once to sit down or turn off their cell phones, she said, but everyone eventually followed the flight crew’s orders.
"They certainly did not do what the stewardess was claiming they did. That's what was so bizarre,” Wielgus said, adding that the flight crew was "nasty" and “overreacting,” and "created an incident when there didn't have to be one."
FAA regulations mandate passengers obey flight crews’ instructions, remain seated when instructed and turn of cell phones and other portable electronic devices like tablets and laptop computers immediately when ordered to do so. Ignoring such orders potentially endangers all passengers and crew on the plane.
The students were put on other flights to Atlanta but the group was broken up. Some took as long as 12 hours to get to Atlanta because they had to change planes in various airports, including some students who had to change planes in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
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