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article imageFamily kicked off JetBlue plane over birthday cake

By Arthur Weinreb     May 14, 2017 in Travel
A New Jersey family of four was removed from a plane after JetBlue claimed they would not follow instructions, became agitated, cursed and made false accusations against a crew member. Video of the event seems to tell a different story.
On May 3, Cameron Burke, his wife Minta, their seven-year-old son and nine-year-old daughter were on a JetBlue plane at JFK airport waiting to fly to Las Vegas. The trip was a surprise for Minta who was celebrating her 40th birthday.
The Burkes had brought a buttercream birthday cake on board that Burke had placed in an overhead compartment. A flight attendant told him he had to remove it, which he claims he did. He put it in another bin but was told he could not keep the cake there. So, according to Burke, he put the cake on the floor.
So far, so good. But the speech pathologist from Jersey City said the problem started when a second flight attendant approached and had a confrontation with the first. It appeared the second crew member was chastising the flight attendant about whether or not the cake could be stored in an overhead bin. Burke said, “I approached them, and I said everything was fine and she said, ‘Sir, this does not concern you.’” She then told him he was not being compliant to which he asked if she had been drinking or something.
A third airline employee then came over and asked Burke and his family to leave the plane. Burke refused and, along with others, began filming.
Police were, called and two Port Authority police officers boarded the plane. On the video, one of the officers can be seen telling Burke he did nothing wrong. After one of the cops again tells Burke he did nothing wrong but he needs to see some identification because he has to write a report, Burke, in a calm voice, indicates that is not a problem and can be seen in the video handing his ID to the officer.
That was the end of it for the police but the captain still wanted them off the plane. All passengers were required to leave the aircraft and then everyone, except the Burke family were allowed back on board. Burke was given a full refund for the cost of the tickets.
JetBlue has a different version of events. The airline issued a statement saying, “[The customer] refused multiple requests from the crew to remove the items…became agitated, cursed and yelled at the crew and made false accusations about a crew member’s fitness to fly.” Presumably the “fitness to fly” comment was when Burke asked if the second flight attendant had been drinking after she accused him of not being compliant.
Several passengers took video of the cake on the floor and Burke’s polite conversation with the police officer. It seems strange that none of those who took these videos would not have filmed Burke cursing at the crew if in fact that had been the case.
The only agitation seen on the video was from the seven-year-old boy who was upset and crying over the fact the family may not get to Las Vegas.
Although the Burkes did not arrive in Las Vegas that day, their luggage did and was picked up by Burke’s mother-in-law. The family did manage to take a United Airlines flight the next day.
Burke intends to sue JetBlue. He said, "I want the flight attendant fired. She has no business serving the public. I hope JetBlue will retrain their staff and recreate the culture I once loved.”
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