A New Jersey family’s plans for a birthday bash in Las Vegas were ruined after they were booted from a JetBlue flight — over a buttercream birthday cake.
Cameron Burke, his wife, Minta, and their two children were Vegas-bound May 3 as they boarded a JetBlue flight from Kennedy International Airport with plans to meet relatives in Sin City for Minta Burke’s 40th birthday, the New York Daily News reported. As a part of their carry-on luggage, the family brought on a cake from the renowned Tonnie’s Minis bakery in Harlem, which they stored in an overhead cabin on the plane.
Cameron Burke said one of the flight attendants “nicely” asked that he remove the cake from that compartment, so he placed it in another one.
“She then asked me to move it to underneath the seat in front of me, I did,” he told the newspaper.
The situation soon escalated, however, after a second flight attendant appeared and began berating her colleague about what she’d told Cameron Burke about where he could store the cake.
“She was pointing to her, [asking] ‘Did you tell him he couldn’t put anything in the overhead compartment?'” Cameron Burke told ABC7 News. “I had approached them, and I said everything was fine, and she said, ‘Sir, this does not involve you.'”
Cameron Burke said the second flight attendant then told him he was being noncompliant, after which he asked if she had been drinking “because her behavior wasn’t normal.” Yet another JetBlue employee approached the New Jersey man and asked that he and his family leave the plane, the New York Daily News reported. That’s when he pulled out his phone and began recording.
A pair of Port Authority officers were called to the plane where they interviewed Cameron Burke and his family about what had happened. The cell phone video taken by Cameron Burke shows Minta Burke and the couple’s two kids seated in the aisle across from him, all visibly upset. Their 7-year-old son, Cameron Jr., is heard crying and 9-year-old daughter, Camille, tells her dad she is scared. Minta Burke, sporting a flashing ‘It’s My Birthday’ tiara, also is seen shaking her head.
Jersey City family kicked off flight over a cake. @JetBlue says passenger was agitated/security risk. Video appears to tell different story. pic.twitter.com/q0zQzNbHoa
— CeFaan Kim (@CeFaanKim) May 14, 2017
After a short investigation, the officers told the family that nothing appeared to be wrong but that the incident would have to be reported since they were called to the plane.
“No one’s in any trouble,” one of 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.”
JetBlue reps then asked everyone on the full flight to deplane in an effort to get the Burkes off, according to The New York Daily News.
In an e-mailed statement, a JetBlue spokesman confirmed it was the captain’s decision to boot the family from the flight, as they posed a “risk for additional escalation in air.”
“The customers became agitated, cursed and yelled at the crew, and made false accusations about a crew member’s fitness to fly,” said spokesman Doug McGraw, adding that the Burkes refused to speak with a team leader about the situation.
The family’s tickets were fully refunded and all remaining passengers were later allowed to re-board the flight to Vegas, McGraw said. He noted that all passengers are allowed to bring aboard one carry-on and one personal item, including cakes, so long as they’re within the size limits.
Meanwhile, the Burke family’s luggage was sent to Las Vegas where it was picked up by Minta Burke’s mother, the New York Daily News reported. The family managed to book a flight out of Newark on United Airlines for the next day. Now, Cameron Burke says he has since been in contact with the National Action Network and plans to file a suit against JetBlue.
“I want the flight attendant fired, she has no business serving the public,” he told the newspaper. “I hope JetBlue will retrain their staff and recreate the culture I once loved.”
JetBlue reps contend they did nothing wrong and say the Burkes are to blame on account of their behavior.
“The video circulating does not depict the entire incident and only starts after the objectionable behavior occurred and law enforcement was called,” McGraw said.