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Family Kicked Off JetBlue Flight Over Birthday Cake

May 14, 2017
4 min read
Family Kicked Off JetBlue Flight Over Birthday Cake
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Update 5/15/17 9:20am: JetBlue has provided the following statement to The Points Guy regarding this incident:

During boarding, the customers stowed their cake and other items in an overhead bin reserved for safety and emergency equipment, and refused multiple requests from the crew to remove the items. Federal regulations require that the emergency equipment remain unobstructed during the flight. The customers became agitated, cursed and yelled at the crew, and made false accusations about a crewmember’s fitness to fly. After the customers refused to speak with a team leader about the situation, the Port Authority Police Department was called and the entire aircraft deplaned. The Captain determined the customers’ behavior demonstrated a risk for additional escalation in air and would not be allowed to fly. A full refund was given. The remaining customers re-boarded and the flight departed without further interruption.
All customers are welcome to bring onboard one carry on and one personal item, including cakes, within the size limits.
The video circulating does not depict the entire incident and only starts after the objectionable behavior occurred and law enforcement was called.

Newly published video suggests that passengers on a JetBlue flight from New York (JFK) to Las Vegas (LAS) were forced to leave the plane because of the airline's dispute with a New Jersey family over where they could store a birthday cake.

WABC-NY and the New York Daily News report that the family was on a surprise trip for Minta Burke arranged by her husband Cameron, who had put the Tonnie’s Minis birthday cake in the overhead bin on their May 3 JetBlue flight from New York to Sin City. When a JetBlue flight attendant told them it had to be moved, the family says they complied with the request, first moving the cake to another overhead bin and then again to underneath the seat in front of them.

But then, according to Cameron Burke, a second JetBlue flight attendant arrived on the scene and berated both the original flight attendant and Cameron. "I had approached them, and I said everything was fine, and she said, 'sir, this does not involve you,'" Burke told WABC-NY. "When she told me I had been non-compliant, then I said 'ma'am, have you been drinking?' because her behavior was not normal."

Apparently at that point, a third airline employee approached the family and asked them to disembark. Burke refused and police at JFK Airport were called to the scene. The video clip below was shot by Burke and posted on Twitter by the reporter from WABC-TV — it shows the police having already arrived on the aircraft and the discussion that ensued.

JetBlue claims the family was asked to leave due to their behavior, which included originally placing the cake in an emergency compartment that held safety equipment. “The customers became agitated, cursed and yelled at the crew, and made false accusations about a crew member's fitness to fly,” JetBlue spokesman Doug McGraw told the New York Daily News.

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While Burke agrees he questioned the flight attendant's sobriety, the video from the incident doesn't appear to back up JetBlue's claim of the family being belligerent. If anything, the family seems shocked and confused about the situation — one of the children starts crying as the Burkes show the police officers the cake on the floor. No other passengers appear to be reacting to the situation and the officer in charge repeatedly tells the family "no one's in any trouble" and "no one did anything wrong."

But eventually the officer informs them that JetBlue had decided the entire flight would have to be rebooked, which was apparently how JetBlue handled removing the family from the airplane. Burke says the airline refunded the family in full for their tickets, which had been purchased with a combination of cash and TrueBlue points.

The video is the latest in a string of videos shot by passengers showing confrontations with airline personnel and aboard aircraft. While the video in this incident takes place after the interaction between Burke and the flight attendant is already over, we have reached out to JetBlue regarding the seeming discrepancy between the airline's description of events and the video showing the aftermath, and we will update this post with any additional news.

Featured image by Image courtesy of Carlos Yudica /