One-hundred and one students and eight chaperones were asked to leave an AirTran flight from LaGuardia on Monday after their apparently raucous behavior delayed departure by 45 minutes.
The Yeshiva of Flatbush students were headed to Atlanta for their senior trip, where they were supposed to visit Six Flags.
Southwest Airlines, which operates AirTran, claims that the students refused to turn off their cell phones and kept getting up from their seats after repeated warnings from flight attendants.
“They were laughing at them and ignoring them,” a business-class passenger said to CNN. “The pilot warned them. They did not comply. They thought it was a joke.”
The Yeshiva has a different story. One of the students’ chaperones called the flight attendants “nasty” and said that the students obeyed the flight crew’s instructions. “It blew out of proportion. It was a mountain out of a molehill,” said teacher Marian Wielgus, one of the chaperones.
After the incident, the group was broken up into several groups and put on the next available planes, some of the students stuck in transit for more than 12 hours.
The Orthodox Jewish school in Brooklyn has launched an investigation into the incident.
“We take this matter seriously and have started our own investigation,” Rabbi Seth Linfield, executive director of the Yeshivah of Flatbush, said in a statement. “Preliminarily, it does not appear that the action taken by the flight crew was justified.”