Flight from New York to Tel Aviv is turned back after two unruly Israelis grab business seats
Two Israeli passengers turned back and landed a plane departing from New York as they clashed with cabin crew after they allegedly refused to prove they had tickets to sit in class seats business, Hebrew media reported Friday.
The two passengers were arrested after the plane landed in New York.
The United Airlines night flight departed Thursday at 11 p.m. local time for Tel Aviv, where it was due to arrive Friday afternoon.
Passenger Roi Eitan told Channel 12 News that about 90 minutes into the flight an argument broke out between the two Israeli passengers and the cabin crew.
The flight, he said, was half full and the two passengers in question apparently decided to take advantage of the situation and went to sit in the business section.
When flight attendants finally asked the two men to prove they had boarding passes entitling them to the seats, they refused to comply, he said.
As the argument grew heated, the captain decided to turn around and return to New York.
A video released by the channel shows police boarding the plane to arrest the two Israelis. The rest of the passengers were removed from the plane and Roi told Channel 12 it was unclear when they would be put on another flight to Israel.
Religious travelers would likely board another flight only if it were to arrive before the start of Shabbat at sunset in Israel.
In a statement reported by Channel 12, United Airlines said the safety of its passengers “comes first” and that the company does not tolerate “inappropriate behavior”.
There have been several incidents in recent years where unruly Israeli passengers have disrupted flights.
An Israeli was expelled from a flight from Austria in 2015 for unruly behavior and for abusing a flight attendant.
In January 2016, an Israeli passenger diverted an Austrian Airlines flight from Vienna to New York to Canada.
A year later, a plane traveling from Budapest to Tel Aviv made an emergency landing because of a drunken and disruptive Israeli passenger.
In 2018, ultra-Orthodox passengers on a flight that took off late from New York caused an uproar for fear of not landing before the start of Shabbat. The flight was forced to divert to Greece.