Delta Apologizes to California Family Who Were Told If They Didn't Give Up Seat Their Kids Could Be Put in Foster Care
Brian and Brittany Schear said they were kicked off of the flight for refusing to give up a seat held by their 2-year-old son
Delta Air Lines is offering refunds and “additional compensation” to California parents who claim they were kicked off a flight on April 23 for refusing to give up a seat held by their 2-year-old son.
Brian and Brittany Schear of Huntington Beach, California, said they were traveling with their two toddlers when they were booted from a Los Angeles-bound Delta flight from Hawaii. In video footage of the incident, employees are heard threatening the family with arrest if they didn’t immediately leave the plane.
“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,” airline officials said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE.
“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,” they also said.
Brian told KABC-TV’s “Eyewitness News” that he informed a flight attendant that he originally bought a seat for his 18-year-old son, Mason, but decided to put the child on an earlier flight so that he could use it for his younger son, Grayson, who was in a car seat.
However, he said airline officials told him and Brittany that they needed the seat for another passenger because the flight was overbooked and the passenger whose name was originally on the seat (Mason) wasn’t there.
The couple captured the incident on video and uploaded the footage to YouTube. In the footage, Brian questioned the airline employee: “You’re saying you’re gonna give that away to someone else when I paid for that seat? That’s not right.”
“You and your wife will be in jail,” a female employee said, after the video showed Brian refusing to exit the plane. The employee reportedly told them: “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.”
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Although Brian eventually agreed to hold the child in his lap, the family was told to exit the plane. The couple was left looking for a hotel room and ended up paying $2,000 for a flight the following day, KABC-TV reports.
In a statement to PEOPLE, Federal Aviation Administration officials said, “The safest place for a young child under the age of two on an airplane is in a child restraint, not on a parent’s lap.”
“If a seat is purchased for a child, an airline must allow that child to use the restraint as long as the child meets the restraint manufacturer’s height and weight criteria, it is properly labeled and says that it is approved for use on aircraft, is not in an exit row, can be properly installed in the aircraft seat, and the child holds a ticket for the seat. FAA safety regulations do not address airline policies for overbooking or boarding procedures.”
The incident came just days after a Delta Airlines pilot was videotaped smacking a female passenger who was fighting with another passenger. It also comes a month after Dr. David Dao was forcibly dragged off a United flight for refusing to give up his seat on an overbooked flight. He has since reached an “amicable” settlement with the airline.