Official Statement Regarding Family Booted From Airplane Issued From Delta Air Lines

A  family of four — comprised of Brittany and Brian Schear with two children who are one and two years of age — were booted off of an airplane which operated as Delta Air Lines flight 2222 in Maui prior to departing for Los Angeles on Sunday, April 23, 2017; and video of the incident predictably became viral.

Official Statement Regarding Family Booted From Airplane Issued From Delta Air Lines

The following official statement was issued yesterday from Delta Air Lines regarding the incident in question:

“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.”

What Actually Happened

The seat in question aboard the airplane was originally purchased for Mason, who is 18 years old and is the son of Brian Schear; but instead of holding one of his toddlers in his lap for the flight, Schear wound up purchasing a ticket for Mason to be a passenger aboard a different airplane for an earlier flight — automatically assuming that the toddler could simply sleep in his car seat while occupying the seat originally meant for Mason.

The problem is that when Mason did not show up for the overbooked flight, a member of the flight crew asked Schear to remove his son — who is two years old — from the seat and hold him in his lap. In response, he refused to comply with the request because he already paid for the seat.

After his refusal, members of the airport staff confronted him and gave him the choice of either removing his son from the seat — or be sent to jail. In the video, a member of the flight crew can be heard stating that “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.”

According to Schear, “They oversold the flight and asked us to give up a seat we purchased for my older son that my younger son was sitting in. You will hear them lie to me numerous times to get my son out of the seat. The end result was we were all kicked off the flight. They then filled our 4 seats with 4 customers that had tickets but no seats. They oversold the flight. When will this all stop? It was midnight in Maui and we had to get a hotel and purchase new tickets the following day.”

Are Policies and Rules of Airlines in General Too Confusing?

In the video, you can hear Schear being told that because the name of his child was not on the ticket, he could not sit in the seat. Schear claimed that people switch seats all the time aboard airplanes…

…but according to the frequently asked questions pertaining to customer care with Delta Air Lines, “all tickets are nontransferable per fare rules” and “name changes are not permitted.” Schear erroneously figured he already paid for the seat for that particular flight; so it is his to do as he wishes until the flight has concluded.

Similar confusion or misunderstanding of the rules can occur in other situations — such as why a customer simply cannot board an airplane for an earlier flight free of charge despite there being empty seats prior to departure.

Are Policies and Rules of the Federal Aviation Administration in General Too Confusing?

In the video, you can hear Schear being told that regulations of the Federal Aviation Administration of the United States state that no child age two or younger can sit alone in a seat. Shear said he would hold the child in his lap during takeoff and then put him back in the seat — but he was told that the child “cannot be in a seat at all” and that car seats were not allowed…

…but according to the official Internet web site of the Federal Aviation Administration, use of a child restraint system — such as a car seat — is not only permitted; but it is also encouraged aboard airplanes for commercial passenger flights for safety.

According to the official Internet web site of Delta Air Lines pertaining to traveling with children, children younger than two years of age should have their own seat, with the recommendation that that seat should be purchased and that the child should be secured in an approved child safety seat — as long as that seat is not along an aisle or in an emergency exit row.

Summary

I ask whether or not the policies and rules by both airlines and the Federal Aviation Administration may be too confusing because there just seems to be so many of them; and not all passengers or employees of airlines or airports can get them right — or perhaps they do not know them as well as they should.

In the name of safety in general, the policies and rules are absolutely necessary: keeping seat belts fastened during a bout of turbulence while an airplane is in flight is obvious, for example…

…but although ignorance of policies and rules is no excuse, is Schear not being aware of some of the fare rules of the ticket he purchased for his son understandable? Is incorrectly stating the rules of the Federal Aviation Administration by the person attempting to convince Schear and his family to leave the airplane understandable?

One part of this incident which appears to be universally unacceptable is when Schear was threatened with having his children taken away from him and his wife — and that is the part which I believe prompted the official apology from Delta Air Lines.

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

2 thoughts on “Official Statement Regarding Family Booted From Airplane Issued From Delta Air Lines”

  1. Mike says:

    First rule about customer service, especially if you’re being taped, should be never lie to the customer about anything they can check.

  2. Bryan Stephens says:

    I think that the rules need to be changed, so that if I buy a seat, I own it. If I make a last moment change on who is sitting in it, why on Earth should the airline even care? The Movie theater does not.

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