A New Jersey man says he and his family were kicked off a JetBlue flight in New York over a birthday cake, marking the latest in a series of recent controversial incidents involving passengers on a variety of airlines.
An airline spokesperson said they refused to remove their items by request of the crew members and then "cursed and yelled" at them.
Minta Burke and husband Cameron Burke were flying with their two children to Las Vegas for a surprise trip earlier this month and had brought with them a buttercream birthday cake for her 40th birthday, The New York Daily News reported. They said they stored it in an overhead bin. Cameron told the outlet a flight attendant told him to store it under the seat in front of him instead and that he complied. He said another flight attendant then got into an argument with the first one.
"You know, you could see the gestures—then she was pointing to her, 'Did you tell him he couldn't put anything in the overhead compartment?'" Cameron told WABC-TV. "I had approached them, and I said everything was fine, and she said, 'Sir, this does not involve you.' When she told me I had been non-compliant, then I said 'Ma'am, had you been drinking?' because her behavior was not normal."
Cameron told The New York Daily News that another JetBlue employee asked him to leave the flight with his family and that he refused and instead pulled out his cell phone and started recording. He said two airport police officers then boarded the plane, took down his information and then left.
As seen in Cameron's video, the family's 7-year-old son Cameron Jr. began crying, while their 9-year-old daughter Camille appeared scared as the dad calmly talked to officers.
JetBlue reps then told all passengers they had to exit the plane in order to get the Burke family off and that the four were ordered to leave, Cameron said, adding that their tickets were refunded. However, their luggage remained on the flight and flew with the other passengers to Las Vegas.
A JetBlue spokesperson told the outlets Cameron's family "refused multiple requests from the crew" to remove the cake and "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 spokesperson said, adding that the pilot made the call to boot the family and have the other passengers reboard for the flight to Vegas.
"The passengers were very understanding. They knew that this was a strange situation," Cameron told WABC-TV.
"It's just crazy. I'm surprised. I'm surprised. I thought highly of JetBlue before," Minta added.
Last month, United stirred controversy after a passenger refused to give up his seat and was dragged off a plane to make room for crew members. The airline also made headlines that month with a giant rabbit died while being transported in the cargo hold. Also in April, a passenger was booted off a Delta flight for using the restroom during a 30-minute tarmac delay.