101 Students Kicked Off AirTran – Kids Gone Wild or Wild Overreaction?

Quick – what’s your first thought when you hear 100+ high school kids were kicked off a plane?

  • A. They must have done something pretty darned bad!
  • B. Those flight attendants must have had a long, hard day!
  • C. Great, now I can stretch out in all those empty seats!

Trouble Began on Early Morning Flight

Sorry, there is no correct answer – but many questions remain over an AirTran flight that was supposed to take off early Monday from New York to Atlanta with 101 yeshiva students plus eight chaperones as well as other passengers. The kids, all high school seniors from a private Orthodox Jewish school in Brooklyn as CNN helpfully reports, were heading to the Six Flags amusement park for a school trip when the trouble started.

Celebrities behaving badly on planes

What Happened? He Said, She Said

According to reports that cite a Southwest spokesperson (Southwest acquired AirTran back in 2011), the kids were non-compliant passengers which apparently means they failed to obey crew members who told them to sit down and turn off their phones. How did the kids behave? Depends who you ask, but this is what one reporter came up with:

  • Rabbi/chaperone: “They treated us like we were terrorists; I’ve never seen anything like it. I’m not someone to make these kinds of statements.”
  • Flight attendant (allegedly overheard): The kids are “making trouble.”
  • Southwest spokesperson: The passengers were “non-compliant.”
  • Kid: “We were more behaved than kids should be.”

Whoops – many forget to turn off devices

Also overheard were suggestions that “flustered” AirTran flight attendants made “a mountain out of a molehill” and it should be pointed out that all this occurred at about 4 a.m. and it’s possible that no one was at their best. FareCompare meanwhile has contacted Southwest for further clarification but so far we’ve received no response.

UPDATE: A Southwest spokesman tells FareCompare “some passengers in the group would not sit down in their seats and some were using their mobile devices” prompting the pilot to get into the act too, asking the kids “to comply with regulations.” However, the rep then told us the group is “welcome” to fly AirTran in the future. Does that mean their behavior wasn’t that bad or maybe the airline thinks the kids learned their lesson? We do not know and Southwest provided no further elaboration.

Kids Flew Another AirTran Flight

Despite being kicked off one AirTran flight, the airline put them right back on another – well, two, actually, since they apparently couldn’t accommodate such a large group on a single plane.

As for those who remained on the kids’ original flight, they took off about 45 minutes late – and possibly they didn’t care thanks to all that extra space.


Published: June 4, 2013