May 14, 2017
In what has been a difficult year of public relations for airlines, JetBlue now finds itself trying to tamp down backlash over a video that appears to show a New Jersey family getting booted from a flight because they brought a birthday cake on board.
The incident, first reported by ABC7, occurred at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City, where a Jersey City family headed to Las Vegas was confronted by a flight attendant because of the cake's placement in an overhead compartment.
Husband and wife Cameron and Minta Burke told the news station they were asked to remove the cake because it constituted a security risk. When they placed it under a seat, they said a heated dispute ensued between two flight attendants, eventually prompting port authority police to intervene.
When Cameron tried to defuse to the situation, he said a female flight attended told him he was being non-compliant. He said he asked the flight attendant if she had been drinking in response to what he considered erratic behavior.
A video Burke recorded shows his son crying as Cameron discusses the situation with the officer.
On Sunday, JetBlue told PEOPLE the video fails to capture the entirety of the events. The company said the family placed the cake and other items in a compartment reserved for safety and emergency equipment, refusing to remove them despite multiple requests.
“The customers became agitated, cursed and yelled at the crew, and made false accusations about a crewmember’s fitness to fly,” JetBlue said. “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 Burkes eventually made it to Las Vegas the following day on a United Airlines flight. The family reportedly plans to file a lawsuit against JetBlue.