A Southern California family says they were kicked off an overbooked Delta Air Lines flight from Maui to Los Angeles and were even threatened with arrest because they refused to give up a seat occupied by their 2-year-old son.
In the wake of the incident, Delta has apologized and reached out to the family to issue refunds.
The Schear family posted the entire encounter on YouTube, and in the video, the airline staff asks the father, Brian Schear, to give up the seat and carry the boy on his lap for the duration of the flight.
Schear argued that he paid for the seat. He originally bought the seat for his 18-year-old son Mason, but decided to send him home on an earlier flight so he could use it for his younger child.
"You're saying you're gonna give that away to someone else when I paid for that seat," he said in the video. "That's not right."
He explained that it wasn’t safe for his child to sit on his lap, and since it was a red-eye flight, the boy wouldn’t be able to sleep.
An airline employee told Schear that under FAA regulations, 2-year-old children are not allowed to have their own seats.
It’s unclear, however, if that statement was accurate since the websites for Delta and the FAA encourage parents to buy separate seats and use a child safety restraint system for young children.
"With him being 2, he cannot sit in the car seat," one airline employee told him. "He has to sit in your arms the whole time."
Schear said there wasn't a problem when his 2-year-old was able to fly in his own seat during the original flight to Hawaii.
Eventually, the airline staff asked the entire family to leave.
After the incident made headlines Thursday, Delta issued this statement: "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."
According to KABC, the family had to scramble for a hotel room and pay $2,000 for another flight the next day – on United Airlines.
This incident comes as the airline industry is already under scrutiny for a number of incidents, including a video showing a doctor being forcibly removed from a United flight.