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 who spoke to the JC said it was “absolute bedlam” on the plane. No arrests were made.
Tempers are said to have flared prior to the departure of Monday’s 2.55pm flight from Israel, when a group of Charedi men 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.
Eventually, after a 15 minute stand-off, where the men were said to have blocked the aisles, some of the female passengers offered to move from their seats in order for the men to agree to sit down.
The passenger told the JC: “A group of around 10 ultra-Orthodox men caused absolute bedlam on the flight.
"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.
“It was impossible for the stewards to get these people to listen to them.
“When some of the women got up and moved seats to ensure that the plane got to take off, some of these men never even thought about saying ‘thank you’.
“Then after the plane took off one male plugged his phone into the control panel above the stewards’ area.”
This caused the exit lights to come on, the passenger said.
“As the exit lights went on, some of the stewards looked as though they were really quite panicked.
“One cabin crew member eventually went over to the man and demanded he take his mobile and said he was responsible for a possible compromise of safety.”
In a statement, easyJet confirmed the incident had taken place.
The airline said: “easyJet can confirm that flight EZY2084 from Tel Aviv to Luton on 13 February 2017 was met by police on arrival at London Luton due to 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 that 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 compromise the safety or security of the aircraft.”
In a statement, Bedfordshire Police said: “We were called at around 5.55pm on Monday to reports of a group of disruptive men on a flight landing at London Luton Airport.
"Officers attended and escorted the men off the flight preventing a breach of the peace. No offences were found to have been committed.”