A Californian family is claiming that they were thrown off a Delta flight and threatened with jail because they would not give up the seat their two-year-old son was sitting in.
The incident occurred on Wednesday, April 23 around midnight on Delta Air Lines flight 2222 from Maui to Los Angeles, California.
The father, Brian Schear, told KABC news that he had originally bought the seat for his 18-year old son Mason and planned to hold the younger toddler in his lap. But he changed his mind and bought his older son a ticket on an earlier flight so that his younger son could have Mason’s seat and sleep during the flight back to California.
When Mason did not arrive for the overbooked flight, the airline asked Shear to remove his two-year-old son from the seat and hold him in his lap, Schear told KABC. Schear said he refused because he paid for the seat.
Schear claims that after he refused, airport staff confronted him and told him that he could either remove his son or would be sent to jail.
“You have to give up the seat or you’re going to jail, your wife is going to jail and they’ll take your kids from you,” Schear told KABC, recalling the incident.
The Schear family posted an 8-minute video on YouTube showing the confrontation.
Schear told KABC that ultimately, he agreed to let his son sit in his lap, but by then it was too late and Delta had Brian, his wife, and his two toddlers removed from the flight.
“The end result was we were all kicked off the flight. They then filled our 4 seats with 4 customers that had tickets but no seats. They oversold the flight. When will this all stop? It was midnight in Maui and we had to get a hotel and purchase new tickets the following day,” Schear wrote in the description of the video.
One staffer tells Schear in the video that because the child’s name is not on the ticket, he cannot sit in the seat. Schear contests this by saying that people switch seats all the time.
However, Delta’s website does state that “all tickets are nontransferable per fare rules. Name changes are not permitted.”
Then another airline staff member tells Shear that FAA regulation says no child two or under can sit in a seat alone. Shear responds by saying that he will hold the child in his lap during take-off, and then put his child back in the seat, however, the staffer tells him that is not possible and that car seats are not allowed.
“He cannot be in a seat at all,” the staffer says in the video. “He can’t occupy a seat at all.”
However, the FAA website actually encourages child restraint systems, or car seats, for travel.
“The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) strongly urges you to secure your child in a CRS or device for the duration of your flight. It’s the smart and right thing to do so that everyone in your family arrives safely at your destination,” the website states.
Delta’s website also states that children under the age of two have their own seat.
“For kids under the age of two, we recommend you purchase a seat on the aircraft and use an approved child safety seat,” the company says on its website.
However, the company also states on its website that child safety seats cannot be used in some seats, including aisle seats or in emergency exit rows.
Delta did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But according to a statement given to KABC, the airline said it is looking into the matter.
“We’re sorry for what this family experienced. Our team has reached out and will be talking with them to better understand what happened and come to a resolution,” the airline said.
There’s been no shortage of public outcry against the airline industry recently.
In April, a 69-year-old man was dragged off a United Airlines flight after refusing to give up his seat. Someone filmed a video of the incident and it quickly went viral.
Also in April, an American Airlines flight attendant challenged a passenger after almost hitting another passenger and a Delta customer was thrown off a flight for going to the bathroom before takeoff.
You can watch the latest incident involving the Schear family and Delta staff below.