A New Jersey family was on their way to Las Vegas to celebrate the mom's 40th birthday when an unprofessional flight attendant caused them to get kicked off their JetBlue flight, the New York Daily News reports.
Cameron and Minta Burke, with their two kids, 9-year-old Camille and 7-year-old Cameron Jr., were traveling from JFK Airport to Vegas on May 3, and planning to meet other family members there for the big party.
They had another guest in tow: a buttercream birthday cake from Tonnie’s Minis bakery in Harlem. Like most people would have done, they placed it in the overhead bin. But a flight attendant asked them to remove the cake from that compartment — so Cameron Burke kindly moved it to another one.
"She then asked me to move it to underneath the seat in front of me; I did," Mr. Burke, a speech pathologist from Jersey City, NJ, told the NYDN.
But that wasn't enough for the flight crew. Another flight attendant then appeared and scolded both her colleague and Mr. Burke about the cake.
"She said I was being non-compliant," Mr. Burke said. "I said, 'Miss, have you been drinking?' Because her behavior was irrational and she stormed off."
Unfortunately, that wasn't the end of the story. After that, another employee asked the family to leave the flight, a decision that was reportedly made by the captain. That's when Mr. Burke started recording the incident with his cell phone.
The video above shows Minta, wearing a light-up tiara, and the kids, in visible distress — Cameron Jr. is crying — as the police question them. The father comforts his son: "It's alright, baby boy." The officer tells them no one is in any trouble, but they are all going to have to be rebooked on another flight.
Mr. Burke told the NYDN that the police did an investigation, subsequently finding that he did nothing wrong. "The officers took down my information and left the plane," he said.
"We were just so happy. Couldn’t wait to get to Las Vegas, and all of a sudden this occurred, and my two children are screaming, crying," Minta Burke told ABC 7 New York. "They’re confused, not knowing what’s going on — they were traumatized."
JetBlue claimed that the family stored the birthday cake in a compartment designated for emergency and safety equipment, and that they refused to move it. "The customers became agitated, cursed and yelled at the crew, and made false accusations about a crew member's fitness to fly," JetBlue spokesperson Doug McGraw told the NYDN. "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."
But the video clearly shows the family complying with both the airline and the police officers' requests. (Also, deplaning an entire aircraft over a birthday cake is clearly an overreaction.) This incident has raised questions about whether this Black family was discriminated against.
"I want the flight attendant fired; she has no business serving the public," he told the NYDN. "I hope JetBlue will retrain their staff and recreate the culture I once loved."
JetBlue reportedly refunded the family's tickets. They booked a United Airlines flight to Las Vegas the next day, and we hope Minta could enjoy her birthday despite the horrifying experience.