O.C. Family Kicked Off LAX-Bound Delta Flight After Being Told to Give up Seat Their Child Was Using; Airline Apologizes

An Orange County father says he, his wife and two children were recently kicked off a Los Angeles-bound Delta Air Lines flight after they were asked to give up a seat their youngest child was using.

Huntington Beach resident Brian Schear, who posted video of the April 23 incident on YouTube Wednesday, said he was on the flight leaving Maui with his wife and 1- and 2-year-old children, when they were approached by officials. They were asked to give up a seat he purchased for his older son — who was not on the flight — but was using for his younger son.

After the eight-minute video gained nearly a million views and news media attention, Delta said Thursday afternoon it would refund the family for their travel and provide “additional compensation.”

In the video, Schear is told that if he does not give up the seat he will be removed from the plane. It’s not clear whether the person who is initially talking to Schear is an airline employee or security. Another person tells Schear that not giving up his seat and being removed from the flight would be a federal offense and “you and your wife will be in jail.”

Schear explains that he sent his older son home on an earlier flight so the toddler — who was in the car seat — could sleep in the seat without disturbing other passengers.

“It’s a red-eye. He won’t sleep unless he’s in his car seat,” Schear said. “I paid for the seat. This is what’s ridiculous.”

It’s not clear if the family contacted the airline to get the seat transferred from the name of the older son to that of the younger boy. In the video, one of the people talking to Schear tells him the seat is still in “Mason’s” name, apparently referring to the family’s older son.

A new person who gives her name as Jenna — apparently an airline employee — approaches. She tells Schear the child cannot use the car seat, saying that the boy needs to be in the arms of an adult the whole time. She says it’s an Federal Aviation Administration regulation.

Schear responds that the child was in a car seat on the Delta flight out to Hawaii; the employee calls that “unfortunate.”

The airline’s website, meanwhile, recommends purchasing an extra seat for children.

“We want you and your children to have the safest, most comfortable flight possible, for kids under the age of two, we recommend you purchase a seat on the aircraft and use an approved child safety seat,” the Delta website states.

On Thursday, the FAA issued a statement in response to a KTLA inquiry about the situation, saying the agency’s safety regulations encourage parents to secure children in a separate seat “in an appropriate restraint based on weight and size.”

“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,” the FAA statement read.

Airlines must allow parents to use restraints for their children if the seat fits the child and is labeled as approved for aircraft use — and if the child holds a ticket for the seat and the seat is not in an exit row, the FAA said.

On the Delta flight, Schear’s entire family was eventually told to leave the plane.

“From this point, on this plane will not go anywhere until you guys choose to go,” Jenna tells Schear. “I’m just trying to help you.”

Schear responds: “Trying to help us would have been not overselling the flight and not trying to force us to get him out of that seat that I paid for.”

In his YouTube post, Schear said his family left the flight after midnight and had to go to a hotel and purchase new airfare the next day.

A statement issued by Delta Thursday did not explain why the family was asked to give up the seat, but said it was not due to overbooking.

“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. I can confirm that this was not because the flight was overbooked,” Delta spokeswoman Betsy Talton said.

Later Thursday afternoon, Delta issued a revised statement on its website, saying the family would be issued a refund and further compensation.

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.