Delta Air Lines apologized Thursday after a husband and wife from California claimed they were kicked off a flight last month with two of their children once they refused to give up a seat they bought for another child.
Brian Schear, his wife, and two of their children, were reportedly boarding a flight from Maui, Hawaii, to Los Angeles on April 23 when airline officials asked the couple to give up a seat Schear says he had purchased for their older son.
However, their 18-year-old son had gone home on an earlier flight, Schear said, and they planned to use their seat for one of their younger children.
Delta responded Thursday: "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. 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."
In a video posted to YouTube May 3, a Delta employee can be heard prompting Schear to leave the plane. “Then they can remove me off the plane,” Schear replies.
“Then you commit a federal offense, then you and your wife will be in jail and your kids will be,” a female employee says off camera.
"We're going to jail and my kids are going to be what?" Schear asks the employee.
The female employee proceeds to tell him that they need the seat because the flight was overbooked and, since the ticket was in his older son’s name, but he wasn’t on the flight, the seat was technically vacant.
“You're saying you're gonna give that away to someone else when I paid for that seat? That's not right,” Schear tells the Delta employee.
A different employee approaches the family and tells Schear that his younger son cannot sit in a car seat during the flight due to age restrictions. Instead, she says the toddler would instead have to remain in the couple’s arms during the near six-hour flight.
“He can’t occupy a seat because he’s two years or younger. That’s FAA regulations," she says. "This plane will not go anywhere until you guys choose to go. I’m just trying to help you."
Technically, that's not even true. Though most domestic airlines permit children under 2 years of age to fly seated in an adult's lap, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) advises that the safest place for small children is actually in their own seat-- with a government-approved child safety restraint system.
The 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."
Schear responds by explaining that the family flew to Hawaii with their son in a car seat-- but the woman replied that they wouldn’t be allowed to fly back the same way. He then agrees to put the baby in his lap during the flight.
But apparently it was too late. Ultimately, the female employee told Schear and his family to get off the flight. Schear says the family stayed on the island for another night and purchased new tickets-- on United-- to leave the next day.
Schear told CBS Los Angeles that he's shocked at how quickly the situation escalated. He says he doesn't want money but is seeking an apology from the airline.
The video comes as airlines have been under increasing scrutiny amid overbooking policies following the April 9 incident in which Dr. David Dao was forcibly removed from a United Airlines flight to make room for crewmembers.