A New York family of nine on its way to vacation in Punta Cana claims they were unfairly kicked off a JetBlue flight before it departed Tuesday, accusing a flight attendant of being short-tempered and calling them “animals” on the loudspeaker as they left the plane.
The family planned to take another JetBlue flight to Punta Cana on Wednesday. When contacted by Yahoo Travel, a JetBlue spokesperson said the flight attendant in question would not be punished. The airline doesn’t discuss specifics of passenger complaints but it did give the following statement:
“We love welcoming families on JetBlue, and we do so for thousands of families every day without incident. The decision to remove someone from a flight is never taken lightly and happens only if it is clear that the customer poses a risk to the safe and comfortable operation of the flight.”
A witness on the flight who asked not to be identified for this story said she filed a complaint to JetBlue about the flight attendant’s behavior. She told Yahoo Travel that the flight attendant was rude and “kept pushing” the family but did not recall hearing the “animal” comment.
Tal Kimchy of Palisades, N.Y., was boarding a JetBlue flight in New York’s JFK airport along with his wife, mother, brother, sister-in-law, and four children. He told Yahoo Travel that as they put their bags in the overhead compartment, a flight attendant asked Kimchy’s brother to step inside the aisle so others could pass.
Kimchy said his brother responded that he would step aside as soon as he could let his pregnant wife take her seat. She asked him if he was saying no.
“He said, ‘I’m not saying no, just give me a minute,’ Kimchy said of his brother. “At that time she said, ‘It’s my plane, and if you don’t like it, I can make sure you get off of it right now.’ He said, ‘Why, what did I do?’ She said, ‘You’re being a hostile passenger.”
Kimchy said the situation seemed to settle down and the family took their seats, when the flight attendant aggressively re-approached and asked his brother if he was “going to be good now.”
“He looked at her and said ‘I’m OK,’” Kimchy said. “She said, ‘Are you good?’ He said, ‘Isn’t OK and good the same thing?’ She said, ‘I need to know if I need to throw you off the plane.’”
Another flight attendant then approached to defuse the situation, and Kimchy began recording the interaction with his phone. The first flight attendant then went to discuss what happened with the pilot, and soon after, Kimchy’s brother was told he had to leave the plane and catch a later flight.
The rest of the family was going to continue the journey when after more discussion by JetBlue officials and airport police, Kimchy said, they were told they had to leave the plane as well because they were a security risk.
As the family left the plane, Kimchy said, “One of the flight attendants went on the loudspeaker and said, ‘Now that the animals have left, we can continue the flight.”
No one outside the family has repeated that claim.
The flight attendant involved in the dispute also left the plane and stayed behind when the flight took off. A JetBlue spokesperson said this was to keep the plane from being further delayed while the flight attendant gave a police report. No charges were filed.
Regarding the family, including his brother, being allowed to fly the next day on JetBlue, Kimchy said, “I don’t understand how he’s a danger today but he’s not tomorrow.”