Today’s trending airline customer service horror story centers around a family of four who was kicked off a JetBlue flight from New York to Las Vegas. The culprit? Apparently a birthday cake.
We have two very different narratives of the event. The family states it complied with crew member instructions. JetBlue says the family was verbally abusive and flouted crewmember instruction.
The family boarded, found its seats in the last row of the plane (it was a last-minute birthday trip), and placed a specially-made cake from Tonnie’s Minis bakery (supposedly renown, but I’ve never heard of it) in an overheard locker.
They logically used one of the small overhead bins that would just hold the cake but nothing else. Problem was that was a safety compartment with crew equipment inside. The family was asked to remove the cake and here is where the stories diverge.
The family says a FA asked them to remove the cake and they did, first to another overhead compartment, then underneath their seat. But another crew member allegedly showed up and accused them of being non-compliant. Confused, father Cameron Burke asked:
Miss, have you been drinking?
A JetBlue representative was brought onboard and informed the family they would need to exit the aircraft. The family refused and the police were called. The police eventually coaxed them off.
JetBlue Accuses Family of Lying
JetBlue says the family failed to comply and cursed out the crew. Spokesman Doug McGraw stated–
The customers became agitated, cursed and yelled at the crew, and made false accusations about a crewmember’s fitness to fly.
To the last point, asking if a crew member has been drinking doesn’t sound like a “false accusation” but a serious question in light of bizarre behavior. That is, if the passenger is telling the truth.
There are some gaps in the family’s story. For example, if a FA directed them to move the cake out of an overhead bin containing emergency equipment, why was it placed into another prohibited bin? Wouldn’t the FA have been watching? The family says the FAs were fighting over the placement of the cake. Why?
And while the first half of the story is a “he said, she said” until other passengers come forward, the video shows a calm, albeit stressed, and cooperative family–
— CeFaan Kim (@CeFaanKim) May 14, 2017
Police came on, informed that family that they did nothing wrong, but did confirm they would need to exit the aircraft.
JetBlue refunded their tickets and they traveled on United the following day from Newark. Their bags remained on the JetBlue flight and were picked up by family in Las Vegas.
It strikes me as odd in this era of heightened tensions and close media scrutiny over customer service dustups that the placement of a cake would lead to such an outcome. Certainly, the family may have been combative and initially refused crewmember intrusion to move the cake. But the family appears perfectly reasonable in the video above. Was it really necessary to remove them? I don’t think so.