There were several people waiting to fill the family's seats once they were removed.
In yet another incident in a series of overbooking mishaps in the airline industry, an entire family was kicked off of a Delta flight traveling from Hawaii to Los Angeles because they refused to allow the 1-year-old son to sit in the seat they purchased. The moment was caught on video in an incident that occurred near the end of last month after the family was returning from vacation and had their two infant children with them—as though traveling with children wasn’t hard enough.
It all started towards the end of the Schear family’s vacation, when they had initially booked three seats for themselves and their teenage son, opting to keep their 1-year-old son and 2-year-old daughter on their laps for the duration of the flight. When their teenage son offered to fly back home the day before, the family decided to replace his seat reservation with their infant son, which was approved by the airline ahead of time.
Once they were seated, they placed their young son in his seat by placing him in a car seat, but Delta staff informed the Schear family that this is not allowed for children 2 and younger. Despite Brian Schear, the father, telling them that they paid full price for the seat and had done the exact same thing on their flight to Hawaii with Delta, the personnel continue to tell him that this isn’t allowed at all and that he must remove the child from the seat. When Brian says that he will not leave the flight because he paid for the seat, Delta staff responds with a shocking threat.
“Then it’s going to be a federal offense,” a crew member tells him. “I mean, you and your wife will be in jail and your kids will be put in foster care.”
Though it’s unclear if this would have happened, as jail time and calling Child Protective Services is an extreme measure, Brittany, the mother, said she was terrified once the staff said this to her husband.
“As a mother, you have a one-year-old and a two-year-old – it doesn’t matter whether that’s true or false. It put fear in me,” she told ABC.
Unfortunately, the drama did not stop there, as Brian continued to make his case while more staff showed up to inform him of their alleged rules, which were later directly refuted by Delta’s own website. The staff member tells Brian that the 1-year-old absolutely cannot take up his own seat and must be in their lap or else the plane is not leaving the tarmac. She says his options are to take his child out of the seat and hold him for the entire flight or leave the flight entirely.
After minutes of arguing, Brian finally turns to the security guard, asking if they can just put their son in their lap so that they can take-off. Though Brian acquiesced within 30 seconds of her giving the final options, the same staff member returns and informs him that their only options now are to leave the flight or be forcefully removed. The Schear family decided to leave and were not immediately issued a refund, ultimately spending $2,000 more to find a hotel at midnight in Maui and book new flights for the next day — with United.
“We want you and your children to have the safest, most comfortable flight possible,” Delta’s website advises parents. “For kids under the age of two, we recommend you purchase a seat on the aircraft and use an approved child safety seat.” This directly contradicts what the staff said to the Schear family as justification for removing them from the flight.
Though the airline maintains that this was not an overbooking issue, Brian Schear claimed that four or five people were waiting to get on the flight, tickets ready, when they walked off the plane and through the gate. They believe that the reason Delta was forcing them to remove their son from the seat was so they could originally fit at least one more person on the flight; by removing the whole family, they could now seat three.
“We are sorry for the unfortunate experience our customers had with Delta, and we’ve reached out to them to refund their travel and provide additional compensation,” the company said in the statement. “Delta’s goal is to always work with customers in an attempt to find solutions to their travel issues. That did not happen in this case and we apologize.”
Watch the incident below to see for yourself what occurred between the Schear family and Delta.