A disagreement over duty-free chocolate between a passenger and a flight attendant on a recent Israir flight to Varna, in Bulgaria, came close to degenerating into physical violence and led to the questioning of a group of passengers by the authorities in Bulgaria.
The rowdy behavior of the passengers brought them to the attention of airline officials at Ben-Gurion Airport, even before the flight departed. A security officer on the flight declined to intervene in the argument because it was not a security incident.
The cause of the argument is not clear from a video filmed by one of the passengers. A woman passenger is seen standing and shouting coarsely at the flight attendant with the duty free cart, who is serving another passenger.
Two other passengers, a woman and a man, then enter the argument, with the man getting out of his seat and threatening violence against the flight attendant.
"You work for me," shouted the first woman. "I paid for the flight and I want chocolate. Another passenger, reportedly her sister, chimed in with "sell her the chocolate, you piece of rubbish."
When the attendant threatened to have them removed from the plane, the first woman’s husband responded, "I don’t give a fuck for you or Varna."
The group was freed after questioning and is due to return to Israel tonight. The airline considered not allowing them to board the return flight, but decided that they had no legal reason to do so. Israir said it would take additional measures against them.
"Passenger violence against cabin crew is growing," Israir said in a statement following the incident. "Israir is doing and will continue to do everything to ensure a high level of security and safety, by enforcing defined protocols in such cases."
As one Facebook user wrote in response to the video, "flight attendants from foreign airlines call the flight to Tel Aviv – Hell Aviv. I wonder why?"