Minta and Cameron Burke and their two young children were booked on Flight 611 from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport on May 3.
The Jersey City, N.J., couple told the New York Daily News they complied with JetBlue instructions to move the cake to the floor.
The airline confirmed the incident but said the passengers were removed because their “behavior demonstrated a risk for additional escalation in air.”
“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. They’re confused not knowing what’s going on — they were traumatized,” Minta Burke said to WABC-TV.
The incident went viral Saturday when the video was posted online.
The couple told the New York Daily News that the trip was a surprise for Minta’s 40th birthday. They wanted to fly with their two children to Las Vegas, where they would meet up with relatives — and they had brought aboard a buttercream cake from Tonnie’s Minis, a bakery in Harlem, according to the newspaper.
Cameron Burke said they first put the cake in an overhead bin, but a flight attendant “nicely” asked them to remove it. 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.”
Then, a second flight attendant intervened.
“She was pointing to her, ‘Did you tell him he couldn’t put anything in the overhead compartment?'” Cameron Burke told WABC-TV. “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 noncompliant, then I said, ‘Ma’am, had you been drinking?,’ because her behavior was not normal.”
Shortly afterward, the Port Authority Police Department was called in and everyone on the plane had to get off, according to the JetBlue statement.
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.
In the video, the son can be heard crying. A tiara on top of Minta Burke’s head — with the words “It’s my birthday” — continues flashing.
JetBlue spokesman Doug McGraw told The Washington Post that “the video circulating does not depict the entire incident and only starts after the objectionable behavior occurred and law enforcement were called.”
The captain made the decision that the family would not be allowed to fly, McGraw said. They received a refund, and everyone else got on the plane and departed.
Cameron Burke told the New York Daily News that his family booked a flight to Las Vegas on United Airlines the following day.
In April, videos captured a passenger being forcibly removed from a United Airlines flight at O’Hare International Airport. On April 27, United announced a settlement with David Dao, who was injured.