JetBlue is the latest airline to be involved in passenger-crew incident — and this time, the issue reportedly started with a birthday cake.
The airline reportedly booted a family of four off their flight from John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City to Las Vegas after tensions rose over the birthday dessert for mother Minta Burke, the family told ABC 7.
Minta told the news station that her husband Cameron Burke was asked by a flight attendant to move the cake from the overhead bin where he initially stored it. She said he complied and moved it under his seat. However, a second flight attendant appeared to be feuding with her colleague over the situation, the family said.
“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 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 non-compliant, then I said, ‘Ma’am, had you been drinking?’ because her behavior was not normal.”
Police were eventually brought onto the aircraft, and Cameron recorded the encounter. The video showed his two young children becoming increasingly upset at the situation while a police officer assured him he had done nothing wrong.
“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. They’re confused not knowing what’s going on — they were traumatized,” said Minta.
After the officers left, however, the airline ordered all passengers to deplane in order to remove the family, according to the New York Daily News. The Burkes’ tickets and reward points were refunded, and Cameron said his family was ordered to leave the JetBlue area. The other passengers were able to get back on the flight.
JetBlue tells PEOPLE that the Burkes did not comply with their requests to move the cake, which they say was placed in an overhead bin reserved for safety and emergency equipment.
“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,” the airline said in a statement.
They continued, “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.”
The family flew to Las Vegas the next day through United Airlines for Minta’s birthday celebration, but Cameron told the New York Daily News that he intended to file a lawsuit against JetBlue.
“I want the flight attendant fired, she has no business serving the public,” he said. “I hope JetBlue will retrain their staff and recreate the culture I once loved.”