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Posted: May 04, 2017

Family kicked off Delta flight over seating snafu

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

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By Joy Johnston, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

A Southern California family was kicked off a Delta flight over a dispute about a child's seat.

The Schears were attempting to travel from Maui to Los Angeles on April 23. They boarded the late-night flight with a 1-year-old child and a 2-year-old child. The couple booked their 18-year-old son on an earlier flight so that their 2-year-old son, Grayson, could be placed in his car seat in that paid seat, according to KABC.

However, the ticket still bore the name of their teenage son, Mason. Delta forbids name changes on tickets, and it’s unclear if the Schears informed Delta about the situation before boarding. When the flight attendant told the Schears that they would have to give up that seat, because Mason was a no-show, a lengthy verbal dispute ensued. Brian Schear remained adamant that he paid for the seat, regardless of who it was for. 

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The flight attendant told the Schears that if they did not abide by Delta's decision, it was a federal offense and that they could go to jail and their kids could be put in foster care.

Airport police can be seen standing by the Schears during the incident, which was captured on video.

>>Watch the video of the full encounter (warning: some profanity)

After further discussion with the flight crew, the flight attendant said that Grayson cannot be in a car seat at all during the flight, but must be held in a parent's arms the entire time, per FAA rules. However, this appears to contradict the FAA guidelines and Delta's own policy, which encourages parents to "purchase a seat on the aircraft and use an approved child safety seat." 

Brian Schear told the flight attendant that Grayson had been in his car seat for the flight to Maui, which was also on Delta, and there had been no issue. He also asked the flight attendant why wasn't his family stopped at the gate, since they had two car seats and two children with them when they boarded.

The flight attendant told the Schears that the plane would not take off until they gave up the seat. After Brian Schear offered to hold Grayson on his lap for the entire flight, a crew member told the family that they were all being removed from the flight or the entire aircraft would be deplaned. 

When Brian Schear asked what he's supposed to do with two young children at midnight, with no hotel booked and no more flights until morning, the flight attendant told him, "At this point, you guys are on your own."

The Schears left the flight, secured a hotel and paid for airfare home on United, which cost $2,000, according to KABC. He said that four standby passengers were placed in their seats as they left the flight, but in a statement from Delta to KABC, the airline claimed the flight was not overbooked. The airline said it was "sorry for what this family experienced" and told Reuters that it had contacted the Schears to refund the family’s travel expenses and provide additional compensation.


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