Another airline is in the news for not-so-good reasons and this time it's Delta. The Schear family from Huntington Beach, California, say that they were kicked off an overbooked flight on April 23 because they refused to relinquish a seat they bought, according to Eyewitness News. Not only that, but an airline staffer threatened the parents would go to jail and their kids sent to foster care.
The family was flying from Hawaii to Los Angeles when staff asked Brian and Brittany Schear to give up the seat they had purchased and wanted to seat their 2-year-old in; they asked the couple to hold the toddler on their laps for the duration of the flight instead. But when they wouldn't comply (really, would you want to sit with a wiggly 2-year-old in your lap for a flight across the Pacific Ocean?), the Schears claim a staff member threatened that they would be sent to jail.
As people are wont to do these days, someone whipped out their camera and started filming the video below. At the 12 second mark in the video, you can indeed hear an airline staff member saying something about, "a federal offense, and then you and your wife will be in jail and your kids will be in foster care." WOW.
Brittany Schear told Eyewitness News, "As a mother, you have a 1-year-old and a 2-year-old—it doesn't matter whether that's true or false. It put fear in me."
Schear had originally bought the seat for his 18-year-old son Mason, but then decided to send him home on an earlier flight and instead use that seat for his younger son, Grayson. He was planning on using the car seat they boarded with, claiming that Grayson would only sleep in his car seat (it was a red-eye flight). That's what he claims they did on the flight to Hawaii, with no problems at all.
However, Delta staff can be heard in the video telling him that they need the seat, and that the original passenger whose name was on the seat (Mason) wasn't using it. But, as Schear points out, he still paid for it, so he should be allowed to use it. Schear says to the employee, "You're saying you're gonna give that away to someone else when I paid for that seat? That's not right."
Here's where it gets really confusing—an airline employee tells Schear that under FAA regulations, children 2 and younger are never supposed to have their own seats, and are always supposed to sit in their parents' laps during the flight.
But Delta's website seems to say just the opposite, reading, "We want you and your children to have the safest, most comfortable flight possible. For kids under the age of two, we recommend you purchase a seat on the aircraft and use an approved child safety seat." Which is, of course, exactly what the Schears did.
Eventually Brian Schear complied and said he would hold his son on his lap for the flight, but by then the airline staff had decided it was too late, and they removed Brian and Brittany Schear and their two young children from the plane.
Eyewitness News reports that by then, it was around midnight, and so the Schears had to find a hotel room for the night and spend $2,000 to take another flight the next day (this time they chose United—what a gamble).
Schear told CBS Los Angeles, “We never thought it was going to get to the point where they were actually getting us all off the flight. As we were leaving the plane, there’s four or five passengers waiting for our seat. The bottom line is, they oversold the flight.” Schear also told CBS Los Angeles that he's not even looking for a refund, he just wants an apology.
Eyewitness News reached out to Delta for comment, but has not heard back. The Schears say that Delta reached out to them looking for more information after they posted about the incident on Facebook.