Brian and Brittany Schear Delta oversold seats misadventure: Did an airliner cynically try to use FAA rules to book an additional air fare at the expense of one family?
In the latest drama making its way over America’s ‘friendly skies’ come the woes of California couple, Brian and Brittany Schear who were recently given the choice during an oversold Delta flight to either give up their son’s two year old seat or be prepared to go to jail.
The drama which was filmed and uploaded on youtube (see below) shows employees during an April 23, Los Angeles International Airport-bound flight from Maui telling Brian Schear and his family that if they refused to give up their son’s seat they would be imprisoned.
Having told an unseen female employee that he had paid for his son’s seat (technically reserved for the Schears teenage son who had flown home on an earlier flight) and wanted to instead use it for his toddler son, the father is told that Federal Aviation rules forbid him doing so.
Tells the female employee, ‘Then that’s going to be a federal offense and you and your wife will be in jail and your kids.’
‘We’re going to be in jail? And my kids are going to be in what?’ Brian Schear, of Huntington Beach, asks in disbelief.
‘It’s a federal offense if you don’t abide by it,’ explains the unseen female employee, to which the incredulous dad responds, ‘I bought that seat!’
According to a report via KABC-TV, Delta employees wanted to give the extra seat Schear originally purchased for the teenager son to a standby passenger.
But the Schears insisted on using the seat they had paid for their two year old toddler son traveling with them (also traveling with them was the couple’s one-year-old daughter).
Nevertheless the female worker was insistent that the family’s plans were against Federal Aviation Administration rules, and because of that, the child had to sit on one of his parents’ laps instead.
‘He can’t occupy a seat because he’s two years or younger. That’s FAA regulations. This plane will not go anywhere until you guys choose to go. I’m just trying to help you,’ she said.
Retorts the father, ‘Trying to help us would’ve been not overselling the flight and not trying to force us to get him out of that seat that I paid for and holding this whole plane up,’
Adding, ‘So what are we supposed to do? I’ve got two infants, nowhere to stay, there’s no more flights. What am we supposed to do? Sleep in the airport?”
The dad of three and his family eventually got off the plane and booked another flight home for the next day.
Told Schear via CBS Los Angeles: ‘We never thought it was going to get to the point where they were actually getting us all off the flight,’
‘As we were leaving the plane, there’s four or five passengers waiting for our seat. The bottom line is, they oversold the flight.’
Schear said he didn’t want his money back — just an apology from Delta.
Then again to be fair to the airline, passengers are forced to follow aviation rules and as much as the Schear family may have believed they had the right to use the unoccupied seat as they saw fit, children under the age of two are in indeed required to travel on an adult’s person for safety reasons. A state of affairs that the Schears never had any business ever challenging in the first place.
Having said that, the airliner does come off as duplicitous especially if one goes to Delta’s website and reads the following: ‘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.’
A sentiment reiterated by the FAA itself, which encourages parents to buy an extra seat for their child while using a safety harness.
Which of course raises the awkward question, where does Delta get off $$$$ encouraging parents to buy extra tickets for their toddler children but when push comes to shove holds them hostage if they take them up on it.
Which is to wonder if Delta were held to a litmus test would they have still made the same ‘principled’ demands of the family had the flight not been oversold and were cynically just trying to find a way to collect another airfare?
Of note, Delta had held that the unused seat could only be used under the name of the passenger who it was originally booked for, with Brian Schear saying the airline were made aware of the change in flying arrangements ahead of time.
Responding to the fracas, Delta issued the following statement, ‘We are sorry for what this family experienced,’
Adding, ‘Our team has reached out and we will be talking with them to better understand what happened and come to a resolution.’
In the interim the airline went on to say the Schear family was not kicked off the plane because the flight was overbooked while declining to elaborate as to why then they were forced to leave their flight.