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July 29, 2015 / 13 Av, 5775
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Flatbush Yeshiva: Bumping Students from Plane Was not Anti-Semitic

By: JTA

The decision to eject the senior class of the Yeshiva of Flatbush in Brooklyn from a flight was not anti-Semitic, an internal school report found.

AirTran Airways “abused its discretion” in forcing the 101 students off the early morning flight June 3 to their senior trip in Atlanta, according to the report, obtained by the Times of Israel and authored by the yeshiva’s executive director, Rabbi Seth Linfield.

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 report found that students erred by not turning off their cellphones.

“At no time did the students disrespect the flight crew in words or tone — beyond not immediately complying with the directives… to turn off all electronic devices,” the report said, according to the report.

The yeshiva said the airline crew rejected offers of assistance from the seven school chaperones in controlling the students and that the medias headline the incident because of claims that the airplane officials acted out of anti-Semitism.

The yeshiva apologized to AirTran, a subsidiary of Southwest Airlines, “to the extent that any of our students behaved in a way that was perceived by the flight crew to be disrespectful or disobedient.”

It also praised AirTran for giving vouchers to the students to continue on to Atlanta and working to rebook them.

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One Response to “Flatbush Yeshiva: Bumping Students from Plane Was not Anti-Semitic”

  1. Dan Silagi says:

    No, it was not anti-Semitic. But that doesn't get AirTran off the hook; not in the least. AirTran grossly overbooked this flight, and everyone showed up for it, meaning there were more than 50 people, mostly full-fare paying passengers, who would have been stuck at the airport until the next flight departed at 8:10 AM. As these were mostly business travelers (who else would normally fly to ATL at 6 AM on a Monday?) there would have been meetings missed, etc.

    The penalties for involuntary bumping are pretty steep, and if it were shown that 50 passengers were bumped, additional sanctions might apply. So how does the airline get the standbys on their flight? By ginning up a reason to kick off 109 people, who are leisure travelers paying discounted fares.

    As it was pointed out in the Rabbi's letter, the doors were still opened and passengers were still boarding when the flight attendant made her announcement. She had no business doing so; it's OK to listen to music, play Words With Friends, etc. until the plane pushes back from the gate. Besides, there were only a few people doing so, why kick off 109 passengers?

    An investigation by the FAA is overdue in this case.

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