Airline Accused of Bias for Kicking Yeshiva Students Off Plane

The senior class trip went awry when the group was booted from an AirTran flight at New York City's LaGuardia Airport on Monday

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Joe Raedle / Getty Images

A group of 101 high school seniors and their eight chaperones were booted from an AirTran flight headed from New York City to Atlanta on Monday after staff deemed the students too rowdy. But some say the teens from Brooklyn’s Yeshivah of Flatbush were treated unfairly and may have been targeted for being Jewish.

(MORE: Baldwin’s Booted Brethren: 10 Celebrities Who Have Been Kicked Off Planes)

Southwest Airlines, which owns AirTran, said the “noncompliant” passengers on the flight from LaGuardia Airport refused to remain seated and stop using their cell phones when asked, CNN reports. Soon, the crew simply asked the entire group to leave the plane, which delayed the flight for 45 minutes, Southwest spokesman Brad Hawkins told CNN. The airline maintains that the group violated safety regulations, but the Brooklyn-based Orthodox Jewish school disagrees. Executive director Rabbi Seth Linfield released an official statement Tuesday, but didn’t respond to TIME’s requests for additional comment. According to the statement:

We take this matter seriously and have already opened our own investigation. We will continue to speak with the chaperones and students and reach out to Southwest Airlines to determine the facts. Preliminarily, it does not appear that the action taken by the flight crew was justified. We acknowledge that Southwest Airlines has offered vouchers for future air travel to faculty and students.

One student speculated that perhaps they were targeted since they were part of a visibly Jewish group. “They treated us like we were terrorists; I’ve never seen anything like it,” the student, Jonathan Zehavi, told CNN. He insists that, contrary to Southwest’s claims, he and his fellow classmates were not being noncompliant. “It was 4 o’clock in the morning. The last thing any of us wanted to do was get up and make a mess.”

This isn’t the only controversy of its kind that Southwest has sparked recently. In April, the airline caught some major flak after a passenger claimed he’d been thrown off a flight because of his weight. But that was just one man; this time around, there are 109 customers to reckon with.

MORE: Ugh, More Airline Fees: Want a Decent Seat on Southwest? Pay Up 

52 comments
jklm2013
jklm2013 like.author.displayName 1 Like

Parents and school should dole out more consequences...giving them a free trip yet!  And, so all the kids will be doing that so they get a freebie?  And who pays for that--customers!  They should be ashamed and apologize for bullying and disrespecting people who are working hard for their safety and comfort!  Pilot should have asked for security--these were not toddlers who don't understand what they are doing. 

msredhed66
msredhed66

So Jsab1233, I see you are trying to find someone to tell you they were "little angels"

msredhed66
msredhed66 like.author.displayName 1 Like

Monday at 3:45 AM at Laguradia air port in New York , I had the unfortunate experience for 1 1/2 hours being 2-5 ft at any given time from these teenagers.I am going to tell it like it is!Their behavior was unequivocally the worst I have ever seen. They were rude, brazen,audacious ,offensive,disrespectful ,showed poor character and had no dicipline or self control. Regardless of their religious beliefs they had no decorum . At no time did any of my group (4) see any chaperones . If there were ,they were acting as bad as the teenagers . In fact they acted as if they were at a theme park waiting on the next joy ride.I am a parent and my son is a couple of years older than the majority in this group.The parents should be ashamed and embarrassed that their children acted in this manner.The teens need to learn BAD ACTIONS = Consequences . Obviously no one has taught them this until now.Consequences 101

Jsab1233
Jsab1233

1. can you show me how many eyewitnesses you have heard? so far there has only been one and that does not equal a ton.

2. are you sure these are ultra rich jerks?

3. until you can be sure of this I think you should keep your jerky comments to yourself!

Ihateithere
Ihateithere like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 3 Like

Of the articles on this I have read this is one of the most narrow and obviously non-objective.  There is a ton of eye witness interviews out there COMPLETELY affirming sanity by the airline and multiple opportunities given to them by said staff to reel in their poor behavior.  I understand an ultra rich jerk of a high school 18 year old upon getting called to task for being such naturally committing even further by playing the race card.  I remember being 18 and that is a, hah, "logical" progression, I just don't get the school being so totally unapologetic and unabashed.... If your schools students are getting kicked off planes for behavior maybe some tact is in order yall.

Rachel421
Rachel421 like.author.displayName 1 Like

I see this story brought out the trolls, who by definition are unwilling to look at both sides of the issue, choosing instead to use this as a chance to slur Jews.  So, let's look at the facts:

Southwest says the kids were being rowdy.

The chaperons and kids say they were tired and the last thing they would have wanted was to make a stir.

It's possible the kids were being kids and the airline acted appropriately.  At the same time, we've seen examples of pilots refusing to fly because they thought certain people (adults and kids with Down's) might create a potential problem.  Unfortunately, airlines have chosen to discriminate in the past - though this doesn't necessarily indicate they discriminated this time.  Hopefully, the investigation will show us where the blame lies.  Until then, all we can do is speculate.

Ihateithere
Ihateithere like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

@Rachel421 We don't need to speculate, multiple eyewitness interviews talk about multiple warnings including one from the captain and these kids still ignored their surroundings.  The information is out there just not in this blatantly biased time article.

MarkWiseman
MarkWiseman like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 4 Like

The school administrator, Rabbi Linfield should do an about face and lay the blame where it belongs. The position the students and school are taking is counterproductive. If students got themselves kicked off the flight, the only response from them and the school should be one of remorse and apology. This line of denial misses the teaching opportunity for the students, who will undoubtedly face other situations where someone in a position of authority makes demands of them, and they will need to comply or face consequences. Rabbi Linfield seems initially to be choosing to allow the students to avoid responsibility. This might be the safer path by not taking on the actions of so large a group of his own families, but he is showing no moral substance. The parents need to allow him to react appropriately, and he needs to do the right thing, or resign because he has nothing good to offer those young people in his charge.  

Jsab1233
Jsab1233 like.author.displayName 1 Like

Are you so sure it's the students at fault? Did you ever think it could be a moody pilot ?

Why did customer service try to convince the pilot to change his mind? Why did all students immediately get offered 2 free tickets to anywhere they fly?

msredhed66
msredhed66 like.author.displayName 1 Like

Omg! Really , moody Pilot!

Ihateithere
Ihateithere like.author.displayName 1 Like

@Jsab1233 If you had read ANY of the other articles on this story you would have answers so all of those stupid questions.  To now explain to you the concept of corporate customer service, first you have rules and profit targets, if then you have an 18 year old who has since given interviews TO EVERY SINGLE NEWS ORGANIZATION THAT WILL LISTEN who starts crying anti semite 5 minutes after ignoring 3+ warning including one from the captain you go into damage control mode and offer free things and hope people take it and hush up.... There is no right and wrong in this customer service, they just do it.. Yeah so you have told me you are, ignorant and oblivious to this story, that you have never worked a customer service job ever, which means you are upper middle class and white. Hows that going moron?


msredhed66
msredhed66 like.author.displayName 1 Like

Like no other flight has ever had people with carry on luggage ! Please!

Jsab1233
Jsab1233

@Ihateithere @Jsab1233

Another thing you do not know. everyone of these kids had carry on luggage which they are allowed to bring. The flight attendant was having a very hard time fitting all on carry ons in the overhead compartments and had to organize getting a lot of luggage off the plain and checked in....that seems like a reason to get pissed off as well ....

CASE456
CASE456 like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 3 Like

All my children went to yeshivas from pre-K thru High School and beyond.  And B"H they grew up to be responsible adults.  Shame on the kids, shame on the chaperones, shame on the parents, shame on the school for causing a "hillel HaShem" -- an embarrassment.  Yeshiva of Flatbush has been a magnet school attracting the best and the brightest - -maybe they should offer a course in Midos (manners.)   We see young adults (and older ones, too) who think like Adoniahu - that they should be King.  Rudeness is not a positive trait.   It's more than likely that the air crew did the right thing.

rcag000
rcag000 like.author.displayName 1 Like

Unfortunately, the world is constantly judging people based on their race, ethnicity, religion, etc. I am an Orthodox Jew myself who has attended Yeshiva schools. I know that the one thing that is mentioned so many times when these schools take their kids on trips is to make a "kiddush hashem." That means that these kids were traveling as a group of Jews and anything that they do is judged by others in that fashion. Therefore, they should be on their absolute best behavior so people do not react like they are in this situation. I am 100% sure that these students were given this same speech multiple times before going on this trip. Whether they were treated unfairly or not by the flight crew, they should have been following the rules so that people would think positively of them. They did not make a "kiddush hashem" and have set a terrible example for the whole world to see. It is very dissappointed and I sadly remind all Jews that whenever you go out, the world is looking for something to negatively judge you by. Don't even give those people something bad to judge you with. Always make a "kiddush hashem." I hope I am not looked upon negatively the next time I travel because of these kids. I hope they will learn their lesson from all of the negative press that they caused.

msredhed66
msredhed66

I was there, I am judging no one for their race , ethnicity ,or religion! These were the worst group of teens I have ever witnessed!

kait1234
kait1234 like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 3 Like

@rcag000 This group was not judged or kicked off because of their race, ethnicity or religion. 

They did not comply, were told repeatedly to comply and still... did not comply. So they were taken off the airplane. End of story. 

Any other non-compliant passenger would have met the same fate. 

Yet, instead of taking responsibility for their actions, they chose to pull the religion/race card as a pathetic attempt to get back at the airline. Shame on them. Learn how to behave in public with the rest of us and there won't be a problem.

rcag000
rcag000

@kait1234 Whether or not this group was judged or kicked off because of their race, ethnicity, or religion is irrelevant. The point is that even if it did happen, those kids have been taught specific manners and values their entire lives and should have known better than to cause all of this. They have set a bad example for all Jews because unfortunately, there are people who are commenting on this issue who are clearly saying bad things about all Jews in general. If they would have "pulled the religion/race card" properly, they would have taken responsibility for their actions, even if they were right.

Little_Owl
Little_Owl

SW is trading at 11:30 Eastern at $13.43. Considering they insulted a entire demographic, the Lead Attendant knowingly put his/her employer in a difficult position, the story is world wide, and the students were well mannered, Yeshiva bouchers, short the stock?

msredhed66
msredhed66

No they were not well Mannered! I was there, in the airport with them! If you consider that well mannered you have serious issues !

Ihateithere
Ihateithere like.author.displayName 1 Like

@Little_Owlthe students were not well mannered, there are multiple eyewitness accounts bbc, cnn, just look around here.  Why is it not ok to first assume a bunch of snotty rich kids gave the wrong person in the wrong context the wrong amount of attitude and ignored 3+ warning including one from the captain before BEFORE being kicked off.   If anything  a company that backs up its staff should be commended not bullied by as far as I can tell ONE SINGLE kid from the school a Mr. Jonathan Zehavi, one kid.  How much you want to bet that one kid was the jerk messing with the wrong flight attendant?

MarkWiseman
MarkWiseman like.author.displayName 1 Like

@Little_Owl 

SW didn't insult anyone. Jews who shout "antisemitism" whenever they want to worm out of responsibility are a pathetic lot. I am a Jew and I am ashamed by the disrespect and arrogance displayed by some of our people in this matter. The kids, their teachers and their Principal should apologize to SW and the other passengers who were delayed.     

destreza
destreza like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 4 Like

Thank you Southwest.  I am now MORE likely to fly you, knowing that you are serious about dealing with disruptive passengers.

BrianJLG
BrianJLG

Oh, give me a break. Seriously, these ridiculous accusations of "anti-Semitism" are as bad as Al Sharpton with his constant cries of racism.  Guess what?  Crying anti-Semitism when you are behaving like animals CREATES anti-Semitism.

grigalem
grigalem

No one mentioned "anti-semitism".  No one accused anyone of anything.


Until YOU showed up.

behoove1
behoove1 like.author.displayName 1 Like

@grigalemOne of the chaperones said they seriously doubted the airline would have kicked them off it the kids were "non-religious".  So we do have at least one authority figure on the scene with a self-important persecution complex.

oldshep
oldshep like.author.displayName 1 Like

southwest is about as easy going as they come. to get kicked off means one thing. the kids were blowing SW's ability to roll back on time.


kingofallwhites7
kingofallwhites7 like.author.displayName 1 Like

They should have smashed all their cell phones, pissed on an Israeli flag, and then kicked them off.

Rabbi_Pedro_Goldstein
Rabbi_Pedro_Goldstein

@kingofallwhites7 - Instead of kicking them off, they should have offered them a "shower". These N Y  Jews really annoy me - Even more than N_GGERS (sorry South park) 

ijazzper
ijazzper

Come on, I'm a high school teacher and I would understand if I was asked to leave the aircraft with a group of 20 teenagers - 101 teens in a can? That's asking for trouble.

grigalem
grigalem

@ijazzper  

Can?  What can?  Where do you see anything about a can?

jhoughton1
jhoughton1 like.author.displayName 1 Like

Of course, even though you're acting like a bunch of a-holes, it could ONLY be anti-Semitism.  Good, keep it up -- pretty soon the term will be meaningless.

Rabbi_Pedro_Goldstein
Rabbi_Pedro_Goldstein

@jhoughton1 - Too bad SW didn't just gas them in the Jetway. This is why I prefer Lufthansa - Their planes have "Jew Free Sections" 

Rabbi_Pedro_Goldstein
Rabbi_Pedro_Goldstein

@jhoughton1 - Just look how those Super Jews act as they walk through Brooklyn. I can only imagine how bad they behaved and smelled in an airliner.

localexpert
localexpert

@jhoughton1 I agree, they want us to believe that the entire staff of southwest airlines is racist SMH.

Milica
Milica like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

The ultra-orthodox Jews typically do not consider themselves bound by the same laws that govern the rest of us. Coming from Rockland County, NY, which has a huge ultra-orthodox Jewish population, I have witnessed their complete disregard of and disdain for civil law and civil authority. And if one were to call them on it, be prepared to be accused of anti-Semitism.

Amylee
Amylee like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

Im jewish, I am familiar with Yeshiva of Flatbush.  It is a modern  orthodox school, and a damn fine one at that.  That being said, I agree with the airline...  These are teenagers. Rowdy, pain-in the neck teenagers... I do not believe for one minute there was racism going on here.

Rabbi_Pedro_Goldstein
Rabbi_Pedro_Goldstein

@Amylee - I am also familiar with the Yeshiva of Flatbush. They act like they are in the 17th Century and that the laws of America do NOT apply to them. They are hairy (even the women), arrogant, smelly, cheap, rude and just plain nasty. Oh and they are ALL a bunch of Welfare scammers to boot.