A Brooklyn family of five is claiming JetBlue Airways gave them no reason for kicking them off a flight in Fort Lauderdale earlier this month — and then blacklisted them from future flights on the airline.
The incident occurred on July 2 when Tamir Raanan, Mandy Ifrah and their three children, Alexia, Natalie and one-year-old Eden, were returning to New York after a wedding in South Florida. Eden, who was on her mother’s lap, got agitated, Ifrah said, and kicked the seat of the passenger in front of them.
The passenger told Ifrah to “tie [her] daughter’s feet,” leading to a verbal confrontation between the two. Ifrah said the woman eventually moved to the next empty seat, but JetBlue said the exchange was a “verbal altercation that included physical threats and profanities.”
I have three kids. I need to get back to New York. Did anything happen, honestly did anything physical happen?
Mandy Ifrah in a video of the incident posted on YouTube
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Because of that, a nearby flight attendant who heard the exchange asked the family to step off the plane, the airline said.
These days though, after a string of similar incident with other airlines, few plane confrontations go unrecorded. The family shot video as a flight attendant calmly asks them to disembark to discuss the situation.
“I have three kids. I need to get back to New York,” Ifrah is heard saying in the first of two videos. “Did anything happen, honestly did anything physical happen?” Another passenger in the background can be heard saying, “No ...It’s over.”
After the family refuses to get off the plane, the flight attendant says in the video, “I’ll be waiting outside if you guys want to cooperate.”
JetBlue said Ifrah’s exchange with another passenger was a “verbal altercation that included physical threats and profanities.”
Ifrah said that all passengers were asked to disembark and then allowed to board the plane again — except for her family. In a second video, passengers can be seen re-boarding while the flight attendant, Broward County Sheriff’s officers and the flight attendant talk in the terminal.
The parents repeatedly ask the flight attendant why they are getting removed from the flight, to which he repeats that the family was not cooperating with his requests to step off.
“Could you kick anybody off without an excuse?” Raanan is heard saying.
“It was not anybody’s decision, your actions provoked that and this is what happens,” the flight attendant responds.
In a statement issued Tuesday, JetBlue wrote, “the customers were not removed due to the actions of their children. We are investigating whether the customers’ behavior warrants restrictions on JetBlue travel and we thank our crewmembers for their professional handling of this unfortunate incident.”
It was not anybody’s decision, your actions provoked that and this is what happens.
JetBlue flight attendant
The family received a refund, JetBlue said, and booked a flight on a different airline the next day. But, their luggage and baby supplies were not removed from the original New York-bound flight and the family says their belongings were not returned to them until a week later.
The family’s lawyer, David Templer of Templer & Hirsch in Aventura, said they later received a letter from JetBlue saying they were banned from all future flights while the incident is investigated.
“After reviewing this internally we have determined that the crew was justified in their decision to not place you on another flight,” the airline wrote in an email to Raanan that was forwarded to the Miami Herald. “We also respectfully decline your request for any reimbursement, other than the full refund of your JetBlue flight. Your case is still under investigation and you will not be able to travel with JetBlue until the review has been completed.”
The customers were not removed due to the actions of their children. We are investigating whether the customers’ behavior warrants restrictions on JetBlue travel.
Templer said the family spent about $2,000 for short-notice plane tickets, overnight accommodations and other expenses as a result of the incident.
While they were not initially seeking legal action, they are now contemplating it, he said, because of JetBlue’s response to the incident.
“JetBlue issued a totally false and defamatory letter in response that could not possibly represent the truth and as a result of that, this family has been inundated with electronic hate mail and hate messages,” Templer said. “That conduct on the part of JetBlue is likely to change the course [of this case].”
JetBlue issued a totally false and defamatory letter in response that could not possibly represent the truth and as a result of that, this family has been inundated with electronic hate mail and hate messages.
David Templer, the family’s attorney
It’s been a tough year for airlines after multiple incidents caught on camera have snagged headlines.
It all began with a United Airlines flight when security personnel dragged Dr. David Dao off an overbooked flight in April. The videos of the incident went viral and plunged United into a public relations nightmare.
Other similar cases arose later. A woman was allegedly hit on the head with a stroller by a flight attendant on an American Airlines flight, and video showed her crying and arguing with the flight attendant. Video surfaced of a fight that broke out at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in May after Spirit Airlines canceled nine flights over pilots who refused to work.
So, too, did video of a California couple that was told to get off a Delta Air Lines flight after they refused to give up a seat they had purchased for their 18-year-old son, who left on an earlier flight. The family said they planned to use the seat for one of their younger children, and their confrontation with a flight attendant made it online. The list goes on.