Family claims they were kicked off airplane over birthday cake

Photo from CP.
Photo from CP.

A New Jersey family says it started with a birthday cake in an overhead bin and ended with their removal from a JetBlue flight.

On May 3, Cameron Burke, his wife and two children boarded a flight bound for Las Vegas from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, reports the New York Daily News. Burke says he had planned the trip as a birthday surprise for his wife, Minta, and the family had brought a cake on the plane.

Burke says he stored the cake in the overhead bin, but then was asked by a flight attendant to move it under his seat. He says he complied, but then noticed that two flight attendants appeared to be arguing about him.

In an interview with ABC 7, Burke says he went approached the JetBlue employees to make sure everything was OK.

“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 behaviour was not normal.”

In a statement, JetBlue painted a different picture of the incident:

“(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.”

Police eventually boarded the plane and all passengers were asked to disembark the aircraft. In a cellphone video, a police officer can be seen talking to members of the family and explaining that they are being removed from the flight. Burke and his wife converse calmly with the officer and attempt to comfort their crying son.

There is no video of the initial incident.

The family was able to fly the following day with United Airlines, and Burke says he intends to file a lawsuit against the airline.