NEW YORK (CBS Atlanta/AP) — A group of around 100 high school students traveling from New York to Atlanta were ejected from an AirTran flight after the pilot and crew lost patience with kids who wouldn’t sit down and put away their phones.
The incident happened at around 6 a.m. Monday at LaGuardia Airport and involved seniors from the Yeshiva of Flatbush, in Brooklyn.
AirTran is a subsidiary of Southwest Airlines. Southwest said in a statement that the crew and captain asked passengers several times to put their mobile devices away. When some didn’t comply, the whole group was ordered to disembark.
One of the chaperones kicked off the flight said the airline overreacted.
“It blew out of proportion. It was a mountain out of a molehill,” teacher Marian Wielgus told CNN, adding that the flight attendants were “nasty.” Eight chaperones were also removed from the flight.
Student Jonathan Zehavi believes they were targeted because they are Jewish.
“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 told CNN. “I think if it was a group of non-religious kids, the air stewardess wouldn’t have dared to kick them off.”
School Executive Director Seth Linfield says administrators are still looking into the situation, but that “preliminarily, it does not appear that the action taken by the flight crew was justified.”