Southwest Airlines, which managed the AirTran flight, called the group of students “non-compliant passengers.” But teacher Marian Wielgus said the flight attendants were “nasty” and overreacted to a few chatty kids, while most of the group was cooperative. “I think if it was a group of non-religious kids, the air stewardess wouldn’t have dared to kick them off,” Zehavi said.
The students had refused to stay seated and turn off their mobile devices when asked. “Both are violations of federal air regulations, as well as our policies,” Southwest spokeswoman Whitney Eichinger said, according to the New York Daily News. “The sole reason these customers were removed from the aircraft was due to their behavior. Anything otherwise is unfounded and offensive,” she added.