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Airline Kicks 100 Jewish Students Off Plane For Not Putting Away Phones

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This photo shows an AirTran Airways jet at the gate at Hartsfield International Airport in Atlanta, Ga., on Aug. 18, 2011. (credit: KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)

This photo shows an AirTran Airways jet at the gate at Hartsfield International Airport in Atlanta, Ga., on Aug. 18, 2011. (credit: KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)

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NEW YORK (CBS Atlanta/AP) — A group of around 100 high school students traveling from New York to Atlanta were ejected from an AirTran flight after the pilot and crew lost patience with kids who wouldn’t sit down and put away their phones.

The incident happened at around 6 a.m. Monday at LaGuardia Airport and involved seniors from the Yeshiva of Flatbush, in Brooklyn.

AirTran is a subsidiary of Southwest Airlines. Southwest said in a statement that the crew and captain asked passengers several times to put their mobile devices away. When some didn’t comply, the whole group was ordered to disembark.

One of the chaperones kicked off the flight said the airline overreacted.

“It blew out of proportion. It was a mountain out of a molehill,” teacher Marian Wielgus told CNN, adding that the flight attendants were “nasty.” Eight chaperones were also removed from the flight.

Student Jonathan Zehavi believes they were targeted because they are Jewish.

“They treated us like we were terrorists; I’ve never seen anything like it. I’m not someone to make these kinds of statements,” Zehavi told CNN. “I think if it was a group of non-religious kids, the air stewardess wouldn’t have dared to kick them off.”

School Executive Director Seth Linfield says administrators are still looking into the situation, but that “preliminarily, it does not appear that the action taken by the flight crew was justified.”

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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