Chaperone Marian Wielgus said the flight attendants were “nasty,” “overreacting” and “created an incident when there didn’t have to be one.”
Rabbi Joseph Beyda, another chaperone, said none of the students on the plane was particularly loud or disruptive. And when he saw that the flight attendant was flustered and had asked students to leave, he asked which kids were causing issues and offered to help, but she refused.
Southwest, which owns AirTran, said the group of “non-compliant passengers” would not stay seated, and some were using their mobile devices after being asked not to. When the students failed to comply with requests from the flight crew, including the captain, they were asked to leave the plane, delaying the AirTran flight for 45 minutes, said Southwest spokesman Brad Hawkins.
He says the group violated safety regulations and other passengers agree. Brad Rinschler, who takes the commuter flight three times a month, said he saw “definitely less than eight” chaperones with the students. He saw only two adults walk off the plane with the kids. And the chaperones sat in the front of the plane, while the noisy students sat in the back. Rinschler sat in business class, he said.
He said about 10 of the more than 100 students didn’t listen to the flight crew’s instructions and were noisy, swapping seats to sit beside friends and using their cell phones.
“They were laughing at them and ignoring them,” Rinschler said of the 10 students.
The crew gave the students “multiple chances” to heed preflight instructions.
“They pilot warned them. They did not comply. They thought it was a joke. You know, it wasn’t a joke,” Rinschler said.