JetBlue is one of only a few American air carriers that hasn't begun liquifying their passengers' bones to facilitate rolling them under the seats (but just you wait!). Still, the airline found itself embroiled in a little controversy this weekend after video circulated of a family getting kicked off a JetBlue flight from JFK to Vegas, allegedly because they brought an oversized cake on the plane with them. Though the airline claims the family "became agitated, cursed and yelled at the crew," hence their ejection, the incident is just one of many that's caught public attention since a United passenger was violently dragged off a flight on video last month.
As first reported by the Daily News over the weekend, the family from New Jersey got kicked off a flight from JFK to Las Vegas on May 3rd, allegedly because of a cake they carried on with them. Patriarch Cameron Burke told the tabloid they were celebrating his wife's 40th birthday, and flying with their two children; the aforementioned cake, he said, was placed in an overhead bin. "A flight attendant nicely asked me to remove the cake from that compartment, so I moved it to another one," he said. "She then asked me to move it to underneath the seat in front of me, I did."
Then, another flight attendant confronted that flight attendant, and according to Burke, the situation escalated quickly. "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?" Burke told ABC News. He says he ended up speaking up, and that's when cops got involved. "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," he told the outlet.
Cops got onboard and took down Burke's information. He recorded the interaction, and in the video below you can see his two children, ages 9 and 7, looking visibly shaken:
— CeFaan Kim (@CeFaanKim) May 14, 2017
The Burkes were eventually thrown off the flight and refunded at the terminal. JetBlue claimed, in a statement, that the Burkes were being disruptive:
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.
But Burke told reporters he never raised his voice, and the family doesn't understand why they were ejected. And the incident is just one of many of late in which plane travelers say they're fed up with airlines dehumanizing them with seemingly arbitrary rules and unnecessary fees.
"We were just so happy. Couldn't wait to get to Las Vegas, and all of a sudden this occurred, and my two children are screaming, crying," Minta Burke, Burke's wife, told ABC 7. "They're confused not knowing what's going on—they were traumatized."