Po­lice called af­ter ‘bed­lam’ in the air

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY LEE HARPIN

PO­LICE BOARDED an easyJet flight from Tel Aviv when it ar­rived in Lu­ton on Mon­day to pre­vent a pos­si­ble “breach of the peace” by a group of strictly Ortho­dox Jewish men.

One an­gry pas­sen­ger told the JC it was “ab­so­lute bed­lam” on the plane. No ar­rests were made.

Tempers flared prior to the de­par­ture of Mon­day’s 2.55pm flight from Israel, when a group of Charedi men re­port­edly re­fused to take their seats next to fe­male passengers — ap­par­ently on re­li­gious grounds.

The flight was full, but the men re­fused to lis­ten to stew­ards’ re­quests to take their seats so the plane could take off. Af­ter a 15-minute stand-off in which the men were said to have blocked the aisles, some of the fe­male passengers of­fered to move seats.

The pas­sen­ger told the JC: “It was in­fu­ri­at­ing to wit­ness, both for passengers and for the stew­ards, who tried but failed to con­trol them.

“At one point there were about 10 men in black hats block­ing the aisles and re­fus­ing to sit down.”

Af­ter take-off one of the men caused a fur­ther prob­lem by plug­ging his phone into the con­trol panel in the stew­ards’ area of the plane, lead­ing to the exit lights com­ing on in the cabin.

In a state­ment, easyJet con­firmed the in­ci­dents had taken place.

The air­line said there had been “a small group of passengers be­hav­ing dis­rup­tively by not com­ply­ing with the cap­tain and cabin crew’s re­quest to take their seats both prior to de­par­ture from Tel Aviv and dur­ing the flight.

“For the safety of all passengers easyJet’s crew must en­sure that when­ever the seat belt signs are il­lu­mi­nated all passengers are in their seats with their seat­belts fas­tened.

“EasyJet’s cabin crew are trained to as­sess and eval­u­ate all sit­u­a­tions and to act quickly and ap­pro­pri­ately to en­sure the safety of the flight and other passengers is not com­pro­mised at any time.

“Separately dur­ing the flight a pas­sen­ger plugged a mo­bile de­vice into a USB port on the crew con­trol panel in the for­ward gal­ley in a fool­ish at­tempt to charge it. This led to the exit light above the panel be­ing il­lu­mi­nated but did not in any way com­prise the safety or se­cu­rity of the air­craft.”

In a state­ment, Bed­ford­shire Po­lice said: “Of­fi­cers at­tended and es­corted the men off the flight pre­vent­ing a breach of the peace. No of­fences were found to have been com­mit­ted.”

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