New Jersey: Airline companies in United States are facing one issue after the other over mishandling of their patrons on whimsical grounds. After United Airlines and Delta, it is now the turn of JetBlue to hog limelight, for all the wrong reasons.
A family that was going to Las Vegas to enjoy a birthday party was removed from a JetBlue over the issue of a birthday cake. What is more surprising about the eviction from the plane is the fact that this family, an African-American family had bought the cake onboard the flight itself.
United Airlines had faced censure when the flight attendants threw out a traveler who had valid ticket. The airline officials wanted the Vietnamese American doctor to leave the flight as they wanted to take a few company executives on his place. The 69-year old doctor, a father of 4, most of whom are also doctors was thrown out of the flight along with his wife.
Now JetBlue is facing similar accusation over a birthday cake from a family. The couple has reportedly been identified as Cameron and Minta Burke of New Jersey and the incident took place on May 3.
The trouble started as to where to keep the cake bought onboard the flight. The issue, couple claim was not solved even when the family kept the cake on the floor as was instructed by flight attendants. The incident happened on May 3 onboard JetBlue Flight 611 before takeoff from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.
The airline officials have justified the eviction as they claim the passengers’ “behavior demonstrated a risk for additional escalation in air.” The issue came to limelight only on Saturday when the family decided to put the video footage online.
The New York Daily News while quoting the family said 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 buttercream cake from Tonnie’s Minis bakery in Harlem, according to the newspaper.
The family claims that initially the cake was kept in an overhead bin. They were asked to place it somewhere else and so they moved it to another one, he said. “She then asked me to move it to underneath the seat in front of me…I did.”
Cameron Burke says that another flight attendant intervened saying, “She was pointing to her, ‘Did you tell him he couldn’t put anything in the overhead compartment…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”, the family told the ABCNews.
In an unusual turn of events, the Port Authority Police Department was made to intervene and the everyone onboard the flight had to deplane. 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 young daughter can be heard crying. “I know, I know, I know, I know,” Cameron Burke reassures her.
The official says, “No one’s in any trouble…Unfortunately, it got reported to us. No one did anything wrong, OK? Everyone’s going to be OK. Unfortunately, they’re going to have to rebook everyone. … We’re trying to avoid that.”
In the meantime JetBlue spokesman Doug McGraw has said that the video was incomplete and it doesn’t show anything. “The video circulating does not depict the entire incident and only starts after the objectionable behavior occurred and law enforcement were called”, says McGraw.