A group of Orthodox Jewish men were escorted off an EasyJet flight by police as it landed at Luton airport after reportedly refusing to sit next to female passengers.
The Haredim men were also said to have caused "absolute bedlam" during the flight from Tel Aviv on Monday (13 February) after trying to charge a phone using a crew control panel in the galley – causing the emergency lights to come on.
The group, said to be members of a wedding party, were taken off the plane on suspicion of breach of the peace after stewards called police from 30,000ft. There were no arrests.
One passenger, speaking to the Jewish Chronicle, said the disorder began when an ultra-religious group of about 10 men boarded a full flight at Tel Aviv, but refused point blank to sit next to any woman because of their strict beliefs.
After a 15 minute stand-off with stewards, during which the men blocked the aisles, the female passengers offered to move seats.
One passenger shocked at the men's behaviour said: "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'."
The passenger said one of the group then caused pandemonium on-board when he plugged his phone into the crew control panel in the galley to charge mid-flight, causing the emergency exit lights to come on.
"As the exit lights went on, some of the stewards looked as though they were really quite panicked," they said.
"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."
One steward said it was "the worst flight" he had ever experienced in his 11-year career, Jewish News reported.
Another passenger said: "They were constantly ringing the bell for the steward. I've never heard it go off so many times. It was dinging constantly and to the point it was really intrusive if you are trying to read or something."
Officers from Bedfordshire Police were waiting to greet the flight as it eventually landed in Luton.
A spokesperson for 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."
A statement from EasyJet 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."