Airlines really are having a rough go of it in the customer service department. This time, it’s Delta at the center of a PR nightmare.
Brian Schear, of Huntington Beach, Calif., was traveling from Maui with his wife and 1-year-old son. Originally, his 2-year-old son, for whom Schear purchased a seat, was supposed to take the trip with them as well, but he ended up heading home the night before. On the day of the family’s travel, they put their 1-year-old in his car seat, into their older son’s purchased seat (as opposed to holding him on their laps, as was their initial intention). That’s when a Delta employee stirred up some trouble.
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.”
Another employee proceeded to approach the family to tell them that they couldn’t use the car seat to secure their child, citing a regulation by the FAA. But she was thoroughly incorrect in her request. According to KTLA,
“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.
The family was ultimately asked to leave the plane. They had to stay in a hotel overnight and purchase new tickets the following day. Despite not explaining why the family was even asked to give up their purchased seat to begin with (it was not because the flight was overbooked), Delta has since stated that it would issue a refund and further compensate them. This is what the statement said on the Delta website:
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.
The dad in question posted his 8-minute video of the ordeal online, and it has already gotten around 1 million views. You can watch the video below: