Passengers removed from Hobby-bound plane over seating dispute

CHICAGO, IL (KTRK) -- Several passengers were removed from a Houston-bound Southwest Airlines plane in Chicago Wednesday after refusing to follow crew instructions, the airline tells Eyewitness News.

Eyewitnesses tell us six to eight men apparently of Middle Eastern descent speaking Arabic wanted to sit together on the plane and were telling other passengers to move. Passengers say it caused a commotion on the flight and made people uneasy. They say the captain decided to remove the men.

Passenger Michael Hust said, "The uneasiness for me sitting behind them that they were just constantly looking around trying to figure out where everyone was sitting and it was kind of like, hey, we are all going to the same place."

Southwest tells us "initial reports indicate that the situation involved seating arrangements and repeated attempts for those involved to move other passengers onboard the aircraft."

Southwest added, "Our crews were unable to resolve without delaying the flight so we rebooked the customers."

The plane bound for Hobby Airport was delayed about an hour. Police dogs searched the plane before it was able to take off.

An airline statement read, "Safety is our primary focus, and our employees are trained to make decisions to ensure that safety, and to safeguard the security of our crews and customers on every flight."

Chicago Midway International Airport says the incident did not affect airport operations. Chicago police say they were not involved.
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