Family Kicked Off Flight After Toddler Kicked A Passenger’s Seat

July 21, 2017
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A family from New York says they were kicked off a JetBlue Airlines flight without no explanation when their toddler began kicking a passenger’s seat in front of them.

The airline, however, says the situation on June 21 at Fort Lauderdale — Hollywood International Airport turned into “a verbal altercation that included physical threats and profanities.”

Tamir Raanan, and his wife, Mandy Ifrah, and their three kids were fastened into their seats, ready to return home to Brooklyn, when the 1-year-old baby who was sitting in her mother’s lap, started to cry and kick the seat in front of them, said David Templer, the family’s attorney.

Templer said that Ifrah apologized to the passenger and then tried to focus on her toddler.

He said the other passenger used a derogatory slur saying, “Why don’t you tie your baby’s feet down?” Templer said that although his client found it offensive, she does not have any recollection of doing anything but trying to calm her child down.

“Then it was over — it was a nonevent,” he said. “It was like getting flipped off in traffic and you just keep going.”

The pilot, however, returned the plane to the gate, Templer said, and a JetBlue supervisor told the family to gather their things.

“They were basically humiliated in front of this crowded airplane, humiliated in the gate and abandoned thousands of miles from home,” Templer said.

No footage was released of the initial event, but cellphone video, taken by Raanan, shows the couple arguing with the JetBlue supervisor, who asked the family to get off the plane so “we can discuss this.”

“No, discuss it here,” Ifrah said in the video, which got posted online. “I have three kids — I’m not taking my kids off this plane.”

“What I need you guys to do is come with me outside the plane so we can have a discussion,” the airline supervisor said once again.

“I need to get to New York,” Ifrah replied. “I need my kids back home.” She complained about the passenger who had been seated in front of them, saying the passenger told them: “You should tie your kid’s feet because she’s kicking my chair.”“You’ve got to be kidding me — you’re stopping a whole plane,”she added. “This is ridiculous. I never in my life heard of such a thing. This is ridiculous. I cannot believe this. I am in shock.”

The airline didn’t give the family any answers about their removal but the supervisor said there was “no need to give an excuse.”

Broward County sheriff’s deputies eventually stepped in. Someone off camera could be heard trying to calm things down. “Just listen to me for a second,” he said. “If you listen, I’ll explain.

“They’re kicking you off the plane — whether it’s right, whether it’s wrong, this is their plane. So they can do whatever they want to do. That doesn’t mean you don’t have any recourse. It doesn’t mean you can’t solve this in another way. You’re not getting home tonight on JetBlue.”

When asked again for answers, he told them: “You guys have to go. You can take it up with JetBlue — make a complaint, sue them. You have all kinds of options.”

Their baggage continued on to New York, so the parents had to buy diapers and baby clothes for the night, get a hotel room and then also book a flight the next day on a different airline. When they got to New York, they discovered that JetBlue had returned the luggage to Fort Lauderdale — so the family had to hire someone to go get it and ship it back to Brooklyn, Templer said. For weeks, the couple assumed they had been booted because the toddler was kicking a seat.

AJetBlue spokesperson later said there had been an altercation that included physical threats against another customer.

“The aircraft door was reopened and our airports team politely asked the customers to step off to discuss the situation,” the airline said in the statement. “The customers refused repeated requests and our crew members deplaned the entire aircraft. Law enforcement escorted them out of the gate area and we provided a refund. 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 crew members for their professional handling of this unfortunate incident.”

The family’s attorney called the airline’s version of events “false and defamatory” and that although there are no immediate plans for a lawsuit, if one were filed, it would be for libel and slander, as well as intentional infliction of emotional distress and breach of contract.

If the mother threatened another passenger, Templer said, the Transportation Security Administration would have then been alerted.

This incident comes after a number of onboard altercations that have thrust airlines into a national spotlight.

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