Entire high school class tossed off AirTran flight

A total of 101 students and eight chaperones from a high school in New York were kicked off an AirTran jet bound for Atlanta on Monday, June 3, after some in the group refused to follow flight attendants' instructions.

Southwest Airlines (NYSE:LUV), the company that owns AirTran, told media outlets that the students from the Brooklyn-based Yeshiva of Flatbush high school would not remain in their seats or stop using their cell phones despite being asked “several times,” according to a statement from AirTran.

School officials do not believe the flight crew had justification to kick the group off the early morning flight, but the school’s investigation is ongoing. Read the full article here.

I have written posts recently about passengers thrown off planes for the flimsiest of reasons, including the family thrown off a United flight -- after it diverted! -- for commenting about the inappropriateness of the violent in-flight movie and a blogger thrown off a flight for taking a picture.

This time, however, it appears to be justified. While it seems clear that the entire class wasn't acting out, it also seems obvious that the chaperones were not in control of their charges, or that they themselves have little respect for the rules. Accordingly, it seems to me that the crew made the right call.

This should serve as a wake-up call that rules need to be followed.

However, this latest incident also highlights the need for some sort of review board that can be an impartial arbiter of situations like these. Otherwise, it will continue to be what it is today: flight crews yielding almost unlimited authority without any checks or balances.

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