JetBlue Kicked Family Off Flight Over Birthday Cake, Burke Family Plans to Sue

In a series of twisted events, a family was kicked off a Las Vegas bound flight over a buttercream birthday cake. The event itself transpired on May 3, but the incident made national news when a video started circulating last week. Now, the family have announced plans to move forward with a lawsuit against the airline that kicked them off the plane, JetBlue.

If you aren’t familiar with the backstory, Cameron Burke, his wife, and their two children were on a flight from Kennedy Airport in New Jersey headed to Las Vegas. They had plans to celebrate the matriarch of the family, Minta Burke, and her 40th birthday. It was one of the reasons the family had a buttercream birthday cake from the popular NYC bakery Tonnie’s Minis.

The cake was included with their carry-on items and as such, was put in the overhead bin once they boarded the plane and the family took their seats in the plane’s last row. The family had no issues with the cake – not even through TSA – until they were on their actual flight. A flight attendant kindly asked that the cake be moved from the compartment. Burke complied and moved it to another compartment.

Burke recalled his experience with The New York Daily News in a story published Saturday (May 13).  “She then asked me to move it to underneath the seat in front of me, I did,” he said.

Everything was copacetic until another flight attendant entered the scene and began to berate the other flight attendant, and then turned to Cameron Burke, a speech pathologist, to do the same.

“She said I was being non-compliant,” Burke continued. “I said, ‘Miss, have you been drinking?’ Because her behavior was irrational and she stormed off.”

His comment proved to add fuel to the fire the flight attendant was trying to create and caused the Port Authority police officers to be called onto the scene to investigate. From there, the father began to record the incident in a video where his son and daughter can be seen frantic and in tears. Wife, Minta, looks absolutely shocked and appalled in the footage.

The officer noted that nothing was wrong and confirmed the family’s beliefs that they had done nothing wrong. But even so, the officer conveyed to Burke and his family that they would have to be removed from the flight under instructions from JetBlue, despite being compliant.

Everyone was asked to exit off the flight in order for the Burke family to be removed by JetBlue reps.

Although the family received compensation for their flight and reward points were refunded, they were offended. And largely inconvenienced. Their luggage went all the way to Vegas without them and it has to be arranged for their bags to get back to them. Accommodations and any activities that they paid for are completely gone and likely won’t be refunded. A plan to have a good time in celebration of Burke’s wife turning 40 is ruined. And a family who did nothing wrong is being punished and humiliated. Over a birthday cake. The airline didn’t care about any of that as they sought to kick the family off their flight.

The ridiculousness of that can’t be overlooked. Luckily, Burke was able to book a new flight with United the next day. But still, it’s the principle of the thing.

JetBlue went on to release a statement to CBS News about the incident and put the Burkes largely at fault for their removal. They insisted that it wasn’t about bringing the cake on the plane, but instead where Burke was adamant about storing the cake, which was in a compartment designed for emergency equipment. “The customers became agitated, cursed and yelled at the crew, and made false accusations about a crew member’s fitness to fly,” JetBlue said in their statement.  “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. The Captain determined the customers’ behavior demonstrated a risk for additional escalation in air and would not be allowed to fly.”

Burke is not going to let JetBlue get away with their negligence and is going to get in touch with the Reverend Al Sharpton’s National Action Network. He also has plans to sue JetBlue.

“I want the flight attendant fired, she has no business serving the public. I hope JetBlue will retrain their staff and recreate the culture I once loved.”

Over a cake? Airlines need to get it together.

Photo Credit: iStock

Sheriden Chanel is a twenty-something writer, Beyoncé enthusiast, and lover of all things visual art. Keep up with her and her musings on social via @indiebyline.