UPDATE: After Brian and Brittany Schear shared their story of mistreatment, Delta Air Lines issued an apology on Thursday, saying the company is “sorry for the unfortunate experience.”
The apology comes one day after a video depicting Brian Schear arguing with Delta staff members and an officer went viral. During the exchange, the family was threatened with jail while the flight attendant made a dubious statement about regulations regarding seating arrangements for children.
"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 airline said, adding that it had contacted the Schears and that they were refunded for their travel expenses.
Delta also claimed the family was given additional compensation.
According to the Schears, the company is in the wrong for overselling the flight and putting four people in the seats they had paid for.
The same type of PR disaster that made business difficult for United Airlines has just happened to yet another airline.
In a video filmed by Brittany Schear, the Schear family is seen being booted off a Los Angeles-bound Delta Air Lines flight. As they passionately but politely refuse to give up the seat they purchased, the scene almost becomes a little too intense to watch, not because they were violently tackled; instead, one may find it difficult to sit through the exchange as the staff simply ignores Brian Schear and his family, even as he calmly explains he purchased that seat and that kicking his 2-year-old child out of it would be just plain wrong.
Are airlines now taking lessons on how to utterly disregard anything their customers say? It sure looks that way.
Schear and his family were heading back home when he was asked to remove his younger son from the seat he was occupying, an NBC affiliate reports. However, Schear explained in the video that he had purchased a ticket for his 18-year-old son Mason who ended up taking an earlier flight home. Since they had an extra ticket anyway, they placed their child in that seat, instead of forcing him to spend the entire flight on his mother's lap.
“He won't sleep unless he's in his car seat," Schear tells a member of the staff in the video.
Despite his explanation, staff tells him his son cannot occupy the seat because his name is not on the ticket. Still, Schear says he thought that since the seat had been purchased for his older son, having his infant use it instead wouldn't be such a big deal.
As the exchange continues, the Delta staff member talking to Schear threatens him, telling him that failing to give up the seat is a federal offense.
"[Y]ou and your wife will be in jail and your kids will be —," to which Schear says: “We’re going to be in jail and my kids are going to be what?”
"It’s a federal offense if you don’t abide by it,” she then says.
“When you're a mother, and they say they're gonna take the kids, it made my heart drop,” the wife told reporters. “I was shaking the rest of the time.”
But the father told NBC that he had talked to a ticketing agent and let the airline know about the third ticket from the get-go. He even said Delta suggested using the seat for his younger child. Technically, they told him, they needed to cancel and then buy a new ticket but ended up saying it was fine in the end. Only then did the family get their boarding pass.
Once in the flight and after they were seated, however, a flight attendant argued that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) stipulates that children under the age of two should always be placed on an adult's lap.
"He cannot be in a seat at all," the flight attendant is heard telling Schear.
Despite what the Delta employee told Schear, both the FAA and Delta state the very opposite, going as far as recommending the use of a seat for an infant, as long as the proper child safety seat is being used to secure the child.
After a long back and forth, Schear finally asked the staff what they should do. “I got two infants and my wife, I've got no where to stay, there's no more flights,” he stated. “What are we supposed to do? Sleep in the airport?"
After the hour-long exchange, the Schears were forced to get out of the plane. Instead of getting a reimbursement or a hotel room, they had to pay for a place to stay out of pocket for the night, and then buy new tickets for a different flight the next day. They told NBC they were never contacted. Still, the company issued a statement that read:
"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."
Schear wasn't impressed.
"They need to change the way they treat us," he stated. "They treat us like cattle. It's unbelievable. It's not fair to treat people this way. We're the customers, we're supposed to be treated with respect."
With the convenience of smartphones, these incidents are finally coming to light. Unless airlines are ready to lose a great deal of respect — and customers — they better change their methods, and fast. Otherwise, the public will end up pressuring the federal government to allow for more competition, forcing these companies to eventually change completely to even stay in the business. Are they ready to hustle to rebuild their reputations?