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More Than 100 Students Kicked Off Plane For Misbehavior

Airline Kicks More Than 100 Jewish Students Off Plane
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

What should’ve been a fun vacation trip from New York to Atlanta turned nightmarish on Monday morning when an airline kicked a group of 101 Yeshiva students and their eight chaperones off a plane for being rambunctious. The school, however, says the incident was blown way out of proportion and now they’re fighting back.

The students from Yeshiva of Flatbush were asked to leave an AirTran flight before departure for refusing to stay in their seats and shut their cellphones off. Southwest Airlines, which owns AirTran, said the students were “non-compliant” and were kicked off the flight after they ignored repeated requests from the flight crew.

But officials from the Brooklyn-based high school argue that the flight crew was “nasty” and overreacted to students who were simply excited by the prospect of a vacation.

“We take this matter seriously and have started our own investigation,” said Rabbi Seth Linfield, executive director of the school. “Preliminarily, it does not appear that the action taken by the flight crew was justified.”

According to teacher and chaperone Marian Wielgus, some students had to be told several times to sit down or turn off their phones, but they eventually complied. “It blew out of proportion. It was a mountain out of a molehill,” she said. “They certainly did not do what the stewardess was claiming they did. That’s what was so bizarre.”

One student, Jonathan Zehavi, thinks they were targeted because of their heritage. “They treated us like we we’re terrorists; I’ve never seen anything like it. I’m not someone to make these kinds of statements,” he said. “I think if it was a group of non-religious kids, the air stewardess wouldn’t have dared to kick them off.”

Still, Brad Rinschler, who was a business passenger on the flight, thinks the incident had more to do with bad behavior than anything else. “The pilot warned [the students]. They did not comply. They thought it was a joke. You know, it wasn’t a joke,” he said.

Which side of the story do you believe?

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