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Family says JetBlue booted them from flight over a birthday cake

JetBlue airplanes are seen at JFK airport in a Feb. 20, 2007, file photo. (Rick Maiman / Associated Press)
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A Family en route to a birthday celebration in Las Vegas this month said they were booted from a JetBlue flight over where to store a cake they had brought on board – even after, they said, they complied with instructions to move the cake to the floor.

The airline confirmed the incident occurred May 3 aboard JetBlue Flight 611 before takeoff from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport. However, it is disputing the passengers’ account, saying their removal was justified because their “behavior demonstrated a risk for additional escalation in air.”

The incident was not widely reported until Saturday, after video the family took was published. The couple, identified as Cameron and Minta Burke of New Jersey, told the New York Daily News 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.

Cameron Burke told the Daily News that they first put the cake in an overhead bin, but a flight attendant “nicely” asked them to remove it. So he moved it to another one, he said.

“She then asked me to move it to underneath the seat in front of me,” Cameron Burke told the newspaper. “I did.”

At this point, he said, a second flight attendant intervened and began accosting the first flight attendant. “She was pointing to her, ‘Did you tell him he couldn’t put anything in the overhead compartment?’ ” Cameron Burke told ABC7 News.

“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.”

JetBlue said in a statement that “the customers became agitated, cursed and yelled at the crew, and made false accusations about a crewmember’s fitness to fly.” They also “refused to speak with a team leader about the situation,” the airline said.

Shortly afterward, the Port Authority Police Department was called in and the entire aircraft made to deplane, according to the JetBlue statement.

Video recorded by Cameron Burke captured two Port Authority police officers on the plane asking questions of the family. On one side of the aisle, Minta Burke and the couple’s two young children are seated together; Cameron Burke is presumably seated and recording from the seat just across the aisle from them.

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