Passengers continue to face airlines staff ire, this time on JetBlue

Published on : Wednesday, May 17, 2017

indexIn another unsavory incident on a JetBlue flight a family en route to a birthday celebration in Las Vegas this month complained that they were booted from their over where to store a cake they had brought on board — even after, they said, they complied with instructions to move the cake to the floor.

 

The airline confirmed the incident occurred on May 3 aboard JetBlue Flight 611 before takeoff from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport. However, it is disputing the passengers’ account, saying their removal was justified because their “behaviour demonstrated a risk for additional escalation in air.”

The incident was not widely reported until Saturday till the video the family took was published.

The couple, identified as Cameron and Minta Burke of New Jersey, told the media that the trip had been arranged as a surprise for Minta’s 40th birthday. The plan had been to fly with their two children to Las Vegas, where they would meet up with relatives — and they had brought with them a butter cream cake from Tonnie’s Minis bakery in Harlem.

Cameron Burke said they first put the cake in an overhead bin, but a flight attendant “nicely” asked them to remove it. So he moved it to another one, he said.

“She then asked me to move it to underneath the seat in front of me,” Cameron Burke told the newspaper. “I did.”

At this point, he said, a second flight attendant intervened and began accosting the first flight attendant.

“She was pointing to her, ‘Did you tell him he couldn’t put anything in the overhead compartment?’ ” Cameron Burke said. “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 noncompliant, then I said, ‘Ma’am, had you been drinking?,’ because her behaviour was not normal.”

 

 

Shortly afterward, the Port Authority Police Department arrived and the entire aircraft made to deplane, according to the JetBlue statement.

Video recorded by passenger Cameron Burke captured two Port Authority police officers on the plane asking questions of the family. On one side of the aisle, Minta Burke and the couple’s two young children are seated together; Cameron Burke is presumably seated and recording from the seat just across the aisle from them.

In the video, the two children are visibly upset, and the son can be heard crying. Throughout the incident, a tiara on top of Minta Burke’s head — declaring “It’s my birthday” — continues flashing.

“Dad, I feel scared,” the daughter says at one point.

“I know, I know, I know, I know,” Cameron Burke reassures her.

As the police officers discuss the situation in the background, Minta Burke seems shocked and shakes her head repeatedly.

When one of the officers turns back around, he tells the family that it appears nothing is wrong but that he’ll need to make a report because they were called on board.

“No one’s in any trouble,” the officer says calmly. “Unfortunately, it got reported to us. No one did anything wrong, okay? Everyone’s going to be okay. Unfortunately, they’re going to have to rebook everyone. … We’re trying to avoid that.”

The Burkes’ son turns to the officer and apologizes: “Sorry.”

“No, buddy, you’re okay, all right?” the officer tells the child. “Don’t cry. It’s all right.”

A Port Authority spokeswoman confirmed on Saturday that two officers responded to the incident but that no arrests were made. She referred all other questions to JetBlue.

JetBlue spokesman Doug McGraw said, “the video circulating does not depict the entire incident and only starts after the objectionable behaviour occurred and law enforcement were called.”

McGraw said it was the captain who made the decision that the family not be allowed to fly. They were fully refunded, he said, and the remaining customers were made to go through the boarding process again.

According to the airline, “All customers are welcome to bring onboard one carry-on and one personal item, including cakes, within the size limits.”

Cameron Burke told the media that his family booked a flight to Las Vegas on United Airlines the following day — and that he wants the JetBlue flight attendant fired.

The family’s account is the latest in a string of high-profile airline-related incidents captured on video.

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