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Family Kicked Off JetBlue Flight Because of Mom's Birthday Cake

"When she told me I had been non-compliant, then I said, 'Ma'am, had you been drinking?' Because her behavior was not normal."

by Jelisa Castrodale
May 15 2017, 8:42pm

Photo via Flickr user Tomas Del Coro

Minta Burke didn't get a chance to blow out the candles on her birthday cake, but if she had, she probably would've wished that she'd flown an airline other than JetBlue. Burke, along with her husband and their children, was kicked off her flight from New York to Las Vegas, all because of a carry-on birthday cake.

On May 3, the Burke family boarded a flight to Vegas, along with a carefully packaged cake from the NYC bakery Tonnie's Minis. Cameron Burke slid the cake into an overhead bin, but a JetBlue flight attendant told him that he needed to put it under the seat in front of him instead. Burke said that he did as she asked, but a second flight attendant then questioned her colleague, before turning her attention once again to the family and their baked goods.

"I had approached them, and I said everything was fine," Burke told ABC7. "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."

So maybe it's not a good idea to ask a member of the flight crew if they've been emptying mini-bottles on the low, but questions remain about what happened next. A third airline employee approached the family and instructed them to take their cake and get off the plane. Burke refused, and two Port Authority police officers were called.

Burke recorded his interaction with the officers, and the two-minute clip begins with Minta—still wearing her birthday tiara—telling them that the cake is under the seat. She quietly tells their daughter to relax as their young son starts to cry.

"No one is in any trouble," the officer tells Cameron. "Unfortunately, it got reported to us. No one did anything wrong. Everyone's going to be OK, but unfortunately they're going to have to rebook everyone."

All of the passengers—not just the ones with frosted desserts—were instructed to deplane. The Burke family was issued a refund and told that they would not be going to Vegas on that particular flight. (Their luggage made it to Nevada, though, and had to be collected by a relative). The airline insists that the family was belligerent and refused to comply with the flight crew's instructions, and it wasn't thrilled about Cameron's "Have you been drinking?" question either.

"During boarding, the customers stowed their cake and other items in an overhead bin reserved for safety and emergency equipment, and refused multiple requests from the crew to remove the items," JetBlue said in a statement. "The customers became agitated, cursed and yelled at the crew, and made false accusations about a crewmember's fitness to fly [...] The Captain determined the customers' behavior demonstrated a risk for additional escalation in air and would not be allowed to fly."

Cameron's video certainly does not reflect the allegations that JetBlue has made, but the gist of the airline's statement is that all of that yelling happened before the recording, we swear.

READ MORE: I'm Your Flight Attendant and I Think You're All a Bunch of Drunks

"The video circulating does not depict the entire incident and only starts after the objectionable behavior occurred and law enforcement was called," JetBlue explained.

Burke still insists that he never raised his voice to crew members, and the family booked a flight on United the next day. He told the New York Daily News that he fully intends to file a lawsuit against the airline.

But… was the cake OK?

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