A group of 100 high-school yeshiva students and their adult chaperones were kicked off a New York-Atlanta Southwest Airlines flight on Monday for unruly behavior before the plane had a chance to take off.
The students, from an Orthodox yeshiva in Brooklyn, were accused by the airline of being “non-compliant” for refusing to turn off their cellphones and sit down pre-takeoff despite requests to do so, and were asked to leave the flight, CNN reported.
Teachers and students accused the airline of overreacting to a small group of unruly students. One teacher called the scene “ugly” and “bizarre,” adding that the flight attendants “created an incident when there didn’t have to be one.”
A rabbi traveling with the students said that in his opinion none of the students was being especially disruptive, but when he saw that a flight attendant was “flustered” by the situation, he offered to help control the students, but was told they had to deplane.
“They treated us like we were terrorists. I’ve never seen anything like it,” said one student. “I think if it was a group of nonreligious kids, the air stewardess wouldn’t have dared to kick them off.”
The airline ended up giving travel vouchers to the students so they could continue their senior trip, but some had connecting flights and ended up needing 12 hours to reach their destinations.