Spirit Airlines plane
Spirit Airlines plane iStock

An Orthodox Jewish family from New York was escorted off of a Spirit Airlines flight this week and banned from the airline for life following a heated dispute, which allegedly included anti-Semitic slurs, over a child safety seat.

According to a press release from the office of recently retired New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind, the incident occurred this Tuesday on an early-morning Spirit Airlines flight from Newark, New Jersey to Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

A Jewish couple, identified as Chani and Yisroel Beck from Boro Park, Brooklyn, traveling with their three small children – ages 3, 2, and 1-month - say the trouble began when a flight attendant spotted them with a dual-purpose baby seat and car seat.

The family says that the gate agent at Newark had told the couple that they would be able to take the dual-purpose seat onto the flight.

As they buckled their youngest child into the seat, however, the female flight attendant told the couple that the car seat could not be taken on board the flight.

After attempting to explain that the gate agent had approved the seat for the flight, a heated argument broke out between the family and several flight attendants.

One male flight attendant tried to shut down the argument, telling the father to “shut up”.

When the flight attendant order the family to remove the child from the car seat, the couple complied.

But the ordeal wasn’t over after the family agreed to the attendant’s demand, a witness said, adding that the flight crew by that point appeared to be “just out to get them.”

“It was painful to see,” a witness told The Algemeiner. “It was a young couple with three little kids. They were just out to get them. It was disgusting.”

The male flight attendant in particular, the witness said, appeared to take the incident personally, and continued to rant about the family during the flight, calling the father “that retarded Jew”.

“It was like they were out to get them. It was anti-Semitism. The guy was full of hatred. You could see it.”

The flight attendant in question intervened again when the father wanted to have one of the children sit on his lap, though the family claims they immediately complied with the attendant’s instructions.

When the plane landed and reached the gate in Fort Lauderdale, the flight crew barred passengers from disembarking for half an hour, calling airport police to the plane to escort the family off the aircraft for allegedly not wearing seat belts during the flight.

As they were being removed from the plane, the family was told by the flight crew that they were banned from Spirit Airlines and that they would not be permitted to take their return flight back to Newark.

The family, who live in the Brooklyn district formerly represented by activist Dov Hikind in the New York State Assembly, contacted the recently retired Hikind to report the incident.

“This insulting and denigrating anti-Semitic remark is inexcusable,” said former Assemblyman Dov Hikind. “This family was traumatized, and their family vacation ruined by the unprofessional behavior of the airline staff. The comment about 'retarded Jews' qualifies the steward for dismissal. Spirit has much explaining to do.”

In response to the report, Spirit Airlines told The Algemeiner Thursday that it would probe the incident, yet seemingly defended the flight staff’s behavior.

Our records indicate that this guest ignored flight and ground crew instructions multiple times, beginning with the boarding process and continuing through landing.”

“While the guests have not contacted us with any allegations of discrimination, we will now launch an investigation and take these matters very seriously. Spirit Airlines does not tolerate any form of discrimination. We are extremely proud of the diversity of our team and strive to provide exceptional service to all of our guests.”