Yeshivah Of Flatbush Says Southwest Air Overreacted In Ejecting Students

Atlanta-bound flight crew called students uncooperative. 'They treated us like terrorists,' student says.

06/04/13
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The senior class of a local yeshiva high school was kicked off a flight for being “non-compliant."

The 101 students and eight chaperones from the Yeshivah of Flatbush Joel Braverman High School in Brooklyn were asked to leave the early-morning Southwest Airlines flight from New York to Atlanta on Monday, CNN reported.

Flight attendants said the students did not stay seated and continued to use their mobile devices in advance of takeoff, despite their requests as well as from the captain.  The airline told CNN that the group violated safety regulations.

Chaperones interviewed by CNN said the flight crew overreacted. They said some students had to be told twice to sit down and turn off their devices, but that they all complied.

One of the students, Jonathan Zehavi, told CNN that the class was targeted because they were identifiably Jewish.

“They treated us like we were terrorists; I’ve never seen anything like it,” Zehavi told CNN. “I’m not someone to make these kinds of statements.

“I think if it was a group of non-religious kids, the air stewardess wouldn’t have dared to kick them off.”

Rabbi Seth Linfield, the yeshiva's executive director, said in a statement sent to The Jewish Week that the school was investigating the incident by speaking with chaperones, students and the airline, but so far  "it does not appear the actions taken by the flight crew were justified."

Rabbi Lindfield noted that the airline gave the students and chaperones travel vouchers for future air travel. The students went on several different flights, some taking up to 12 hours to meet up with the group.

editor@jewishweek.org

 

Last Update:

07/21/2013 - 11:43

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The worst thing of all? Executive Director Seth Linfield defended the bunch saying "they weren't acting that bad[ly]" thereby reinforcing the wrong type of behavior and missing a huge opportunity for modeling appropriate behavior.

I looked for a some kind of video clips from that incident (with 100 kids, normally you would have half a dozen listed), and surprisingly found nothing. Just a thought: if the crew over-react and the students were all well behaved, why nobody posted some video?

I have traveled with students for 34 years. Some don't have experience with airline travel; others can be self-centered and think that rules don't apply to them. Flight attendants are professionally patient with student travelers; if some of these students did not respond to repeated requests to comply with FAA regulations from them -- AND THE CAPTAIN, the crew was not only justified in putting them off the flight, but really had no choice.

I wonder about the adult chaperones' role: did they have authority over these students? If they did, were they trying to exercise it, and why didn't the students respond? If they didn't, their problems were just beginning.

We had an incident like for the seniors of Rabbi Swift's Yeshiva in Pittsburgh. The taxi driver made them get out.

Given the divergent stories, I suspect the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Unfortunately for our community, the middle in this instance means the flight crew should not be criticized for their action.

I don't know what happened, I wasn't there. Assuming the Airline was justified in ejecting a group of 100 individuals, I would expect they would have taken, or attempted to take, statements from independent witnesses. Again, if the action was justified, I would expect the independent witnesses would have cooperated with the Airline and agreed to provide statements. So, I wonder if there are any independent statements

As a Jew and former Brooklynite, I feel this group of arrogant youth as well as their adult poorly trained chaperones, have brought shame on American Jews. Their behaivior, as reported on various responsible Talk shows here in Califoirnia indicate that this self-centered juvenile mob posed a safety risk. Their expulsion has nothing to do with religion. Their behaivior has everything to do with my religion that believes in goodness and respect for laws to live by. The leadership of this School needs to closely examine their overprotective attitudes and to review the laws of the Torah which is the underpinning of man lving in society. I would not want to travel with this group on a plane or anywhere.

Agree 100%

well said. agree and concur.

Why were these rowdies given vouchers and not the other passengers who likely missted their connections?

I will be purchasing my next ticket on AirTran! Good for them. I am completely embarrassed how the Jewish week is trying to blame the airline!

Southwest will thank you for that purchase (Southwest owns Airtran).

Oh, please. Had these not been affluent private school students, they would have been handed over to the TSA and not given vouchers.

Refusing to turn off mobile devices or to sit down is a safety hazard. Everyone is supposed to turn off mobile devices and sit down before the plane heads down the runway.

Same on Airtran for offering vouchers to these who misbehaved. Yeshivah Of Flatbush should apologize for their actions, putting everyone at risk when they cannot control these 'kids with attitude'.

I am sure they will blame the airlines for not making the kids observ!e the rules should there be an airplane mishap.

Shame on Yeshivah Of Flatbush

I just can't imagine affluent students from a religious private school refusing to comply with airline rules. Just like the girls from the prestigious Portland Catholic girls high school complied so well with the rules that a local restaurant was forced to place a nice big sign in the front window saying "No St. Mary's Girls" after repeated incidents of disruptive, destructive, and disturbing behavior.

I'm sure you posted this for reaction. Well played! Nobody would be stupid enough to believe what you said! "I just can't imagine.." I was on to your farce right from the beginning!

When I was a student in the Lubavitcher Yeshiva (elementary school) more than 50 years ago, the concept of chillul hashem (shaming God's name) was drilled into us day after day. It was considered one of the most horrible things a Jew could do. I hope this embarrassing shondeh serves as a wake-up call to parents and teachers that we are raising too many kids with no derech eretz (manners?) whatsoever. The numerous dollars we spend on yeshiva tuitions are for nought if we cannot expect our children to grow up as mentschen. Nothing -- Chumash, Gemara, Math, English -- can approach the importance of derech eretz. We must drill that concept into their hearts over and over and over again on a daily basis.

Hmmm...Private school kids, New City kids, Jewish kids...no matter. I agree where were the chaperones? And, what happened to respect for authority in this Country?

Stewardess was cranky didn't want to serve beverages to 109 Jewish people so chose to eject them from the plane instead...If indeed kids were not listening then throw them off not everyone! I bet this crew war 'ANTI SEMETIC'.

They travel in a group, and they go together in a group. If you were traveling in a group, would you rather stay or travel on without them? What would you do when you get there?

As a 15 year-old who flies dozens of times a year between parent's houses and other frequent vacation areas, I'm pretty disappointed in this school. Here's my flight agenda: Sit down, shut up, obey, get off, get on with my day.

Getting a large group into a plane and then getting the plane off the ground requires EVERYONE to cooperate. The airline did not over-react if the protocol was not followed by all passengers. These students were disrespectful of the other passengers, the employees of the airline, and of their families and school. Being dismissive of the employees' requests to comply because they are "workers" is not a sign of class or good breeding-it is a sign of arrogance and entitlement.
The consequence had nothing to do with being Jewish. It had nothing to do with being teenagers. I have traveled with Jewish teenagers who knew how to behave in any situation. These passengers earned this consequence because they were disrespectful and self-absorbed. I am embarrassed by them. They could have represented the faith with grace and maturity-instead they helped to denigrate the reputation of Jews everywhere the news has spread.

I am a Captain for a major airline. Safety is our primary goal and of our flight attendants. We are not baby sitters and we do not work for a public charity. If any of us determine you are not behaving in a safe, rational way, we (I) will gladly kick you off my flight. I could care less what you race, gender or creed is.

Well said!

Shame on the students, chaperones and faculty for not respecting the crew and pilot requests. And further shame on them for attributing it to religious bias instead of taking responsibility for their non-compliance.

Exactly!

It sure looks justified to me. I'm sure, if the students had sat down and turned off their phone at the 2nd warning, the pilot would have been relieved to take off. their are other passangers and connecting flights. the behavior of these kids was arrogant and confrontational, and they risked others' safety. they were way out of line, and this yeshiva is not 'man enough' to tell the truth and take responsibility. what jerks! they are just making jews look worse by pretending that jews are the 'perfect' people.

Private school kids who are allowed to get away with these type of things, always is an interesting thing to hear about. We see it a great deal here on Florida, when folks from the northeast come down and feel they are superior and rules do not apply to them. Ashame these parents are continuing to allow this type of lack of respect. And of course the officials who were traveling with them would say the airline was over zealous in their actions, the adults in charge of the kids should have made certain that the kids complied with authorities on the plane. Those of you who are full time residents here in FL know exactly what this refers to.

Now you jews know how muslims feel.....

What a silly and irrelevant comparison.

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