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Dad says Delta threatened jail if his son, 2, wasn't removed from paid-for seat on overbooked flight

Delta Airlines passenger Brian Schear said he was told by airline staff that he and his wife would be thrown in jail unless they removed their 2-year-old son from a paid-for seat on an overbooked flight. They were eventually told to leave the plane. (Image source: YouTube screencap)

On video you can hear what sounds like a woman's voice speaking to Brian Schear as he sits on a Delta Airlines flight readying for takeoff from Hawaii to Los Angeles last week.

The individual speaking to Schear — who can't be seen on the clip — says he'll face "a federal offense, and you and your wife will be in jail." The person adds something about Schear's "kids," but the rest of what was said isn't audible.

But here's what Schear told KABC-TV  an airline staffer said to him: "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."

And who was occupying the seat in question? Schear's 2-year-old son.

See, Delta wanted the boy out of the seat and in the lap of his mom or dad during the overbooked, red-eye flight, KABC said.

Brittany Schear told the station hearing a jail threat "put fear in me."

Her husband argued that their son needed the seat so he could sleep in a car seat — and besides, cash was already doled out for that purpose.

"You're saying you're gonna give that away to someone else when I paid for that seat?" Brian Schear is heard asking on the video. "That's not right."

One airline employee argues back to Brian Schear, KABC reported, "With him being 2, he cannot sit in the car seat. He has to sit in your arms the whole time."

But Delta's website says, "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."

An airline staffer also told Brian Schear that the seat his 2-year-old was sitting in was originally designated for a different passenger, KABC noted — but Dad tried explaining that the original passenger was his 18-year-old son who he sent home on an earlier flight expressly so his 2-year-old son could use it and sleep.

He even pointed out that there was no problem with his 2-year-old occupying a seat on the Delta flight to Hawaii.

"You need to do what's right," Brian Schear is heard telling an airline employee. "I bought the seat, and you need to just leave us alone."

He finally agreed to hold his son on his lap for the flight, KABC said, but by then Delta said he and his family, from Huntington Beach, California, had to leave the flight. It was about midnight, KABC reported, and the Schears had no place to stay.

The response from the official standing in the aisle talking to the beleaguered dad?: "At this point, you're on your own."

"You guys are unbelievable," Brian Schear is heard saying before exiting the plane. "Great customer service. Awesome. Great job."

So the Schears — who also had their 1-year-old in tow — were forced to leave the flight, scramble for hotel accommodations and shell out $2,000 to fly back to Los Angeles the next day on United Airlines, the station reported.

After the Schears posted video of their encounter with Delta on Facebook and YouTube, the couple told KABC that the airline contacted them Wednesday for more information. Delta's two-sentence statement to the station reads: "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."

TheBlaze on Thursday asked a Delta corporate communications representative if an airline employee, in fact, threatened the Schears with jail, but the Delta official couldn't answer and said the question would be passed along for a response.

The airline industry has been hammered of late for its treatment of passengers. The Delta incident involving the Schear family comes in the wake of a Delta airline pilot allegedly striking a female who was fighting someone else. An American Airlines employee was removed from duty after being caught on video challenging a passenger to a fight. And, of course, the United Airlines passenger who was dragged off a flight is likely still fresh in most people's minds.

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