The incident was captured on video
A California man and his family were kicked off of a Delta flight after they refused to give up a seat originally purchased for their teenage son that they opted to use for his 2-year-old sibling instead.
Brian and Brittany Schear were on a red-eye flight April 23 from Maui to Los Angeles when they got into an argument with airline officials, who said the seat in question needed to be given to another passenger. The family had put their 2-year-old there in a car seat.
“I bought that seat,” Brian Schear says to flight agents in a video captured of the incident. “It’s a red-eye. He won’t sleep unless he’s in his car seat. So, otherwise, he’d be sitting in my wife’s lap, crawling all over the place, and it’s not safe.”
Schear explained that he initially bought the seat for his 18-year-old son, but decided to fly him back to California early so that the toddler could have a seat for himself. The couple was also traveling with a 1-year-old, they said.
An agent explained that the Schears had to comply with their request, otherwise they would be ejected from the plane and could receive jail time.
“So, then, it’s going to be a federal offense,” one agent said, “and you and your wife will be in jail and your kids will be —.”
“We’re going to be in jail and my kids are going to be what?” Schear interjected.
“It’s a federal offense if you don’t abide by it,” the agent said.
“I bought that seat,” Schear said. “You’re saying you’re going to give that away to someone else when I paid for that seat. That’s not right.”
After a back and forth debate, Schear eventually said he would move the toddler so that the plane could take off, but an agent said it was now too late, saying that the family would either have to exit the plane or the crew would have to force every passenger off of the airliner.
“I told you guys at the beginning you had two options and now it’s come too far,” an agent explained.
“I have two infants,” Schear said, “and nowhere to stay. There’s no more flights. What are we supposed to do — sleep in the airport?”
“At this point, you guys are on your own,” the agent replied.
The issue seemed to stem from Delta’s policy that “all tickets are nontransferable per the fare rules. Name changes are not permitted,” according to the airline’s website.
But the Federal Aviation Administration encourages parents to strap-in young children in government-approved car seats. “The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) strongly urges you to secure your child in a CRS or device for the duration of your flight,” the agency states on its website. “It’s the smart and right thing to do so that everyone in your family arrives safely at your destination.”
And Delta itself encourages the same action. “For kids under the age of two, we recommend you purchase a seat on the aircraft and use an approved child safety seat.”
Delta has since apologized to the family, the company said.
“Our team has reached out and will be talking with them to better understand what happened and come to a resolution,” the airline said in a statement to the Washington Post.
This the latest airline incident to gain national attention.
United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz recently testified before Congress and apologized for an incident in which a passenger was forcibly removed from an overbooked flight. Passenger David Dao had been dragged off a plane in April at a Chicago airport to make room for crew members.