(JTA) — A family of five from Brooklyn was sent off a JetBlue flight in Florida, with the reason in dispute.
Tamir Raanan and his wife, Mandy Ifrah, were ready to fly home with their three children from Fort Lauderdale last month when their 1-year-old daughter kicked the seat of the passenger in front of her.
Ifrah told the New York Daily News that she apologized to the woman and then set about calming her child. She also told other news outlets and airport security that the woman told her she should tie her child’s feet down before switching seats.
The airline asserted that after “a verbal altercation that included physical threats,” the family was asked to deplane.
A video of the encounter with airline security taken on Raanan’s cellphone shows Ifrah speaking to her husband in Hebrew at one point. The family is Jewish and the couple are expatriate Israelis.
The airplane returned to the gate and the family was asked to leave the plane. A member of the JetBlue staff told the couple that they would receive a refund for the flight.
Broward County Sheriff’s deputies were called in to deal with the situation, as the family continued to stand at the gate and complain about being removed from the flight.
“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,” a deputy said. “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.
“You guys have to go. You can take it up with JetBlue — make a complaint, sue them. You have all kinds of options.”
In a statement, JetBlue said the family was removed “[a]fter a verbal altercation that included physical threats and profanities against a nearby customer…. 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.”
David Templer, an attorney for the family, told the Washington Post that the incident was a “non-event” and did not require removing the family.
The family stayed in a hotel overnight after buying extra diapers, wipes and children’s clothes. They flew back to New York on a different airline, discovering upon arrival that their luggage had been sent back to Florida. They had to pay to have it returned to them, according to reports.