Couple removed from airline flight for… oh, what does it matter anymore?

The latest tale of suffering aboard an airline in the United States today comes from Brian and Brittany Schear of Huntington Beach, California, who were tossed off a Delta flight because they wanted one of their toddlers to sit in a seat they originally purchased for their teenage son, who instead took an earlier flight.

They paid for the seat; they couldn’t sit in it, the Associated Press says, because Delta policy prohibits someone from using a ticket bought in someone else’s name. Federal regulations, however, allow such a thing if the person’s name can be run through a security database intended to screen out toddler terrorists.

Rules are rules, though.

As usual, there’s video, including the part where the Delta representatives claims federal regulations required the kid to sit in the parents’ lap. That’s not true at all.

“We’re sorry for what this family experienced,” a Delta statement said. “Our team has reached out and will be talking with them to better understand what happened and come to a resolution.”

  • BReynolds33

    What’s the end game, here? I mean, how far are airlines willing to go before they finally figure out they need to come back to reality and treat people as human beings?

    • They don’t have to. The airline consolidation and regulation relieved them of competitive pressure.

      • BJ

        So basically we can’t ‘vote’ with our dollars. Bus, train, or drive yourself.

        PS I looked at taking the train for 2 trips about 6-8 years ago – 3 days for about 50% or more cost than a flight.

        • Anna

          I’m with you. Plan for delays for the train trip and rent a car at your destination.

          However, if the train ride is 50% more you could upgrade to first class for close to the same cost but even that doesn’t guarantee you won’t be thrown off the plane if it’s overbooked.

          What’s a frustrated traveler to do?

          Let’s not forget that Congress has threatened regulations protecting passengers if airlines don’t clean up their act (Like that’s going to happen with the kings of deregulation.)

          • Rob

            If I knew how to fly and was a 1%er, a Cirrus personal jet would be the preferred way to go…

        • Jack

          We have reverted to taking road trips. Enjoy the drive, save the cost of a rental, eat what we want when we want (don’t forget the cooler), and don’t have to worry about TSA screening. My luggage doesn’t get lost either.

          Just when I finally got over my fear of flying….

  • Jim in RF

    I’m sure part of this trend is just that everyone’s got their antennas up now and everyone has a camera, but part of it is on the carriers, too. When they saddle their customer-facing employees with a gazillion rules and all sort of dire consequences for the employees when they don’t enforce them, they’ll get this sort of behavior. They’ve over-built their customer experience model.

  • Mike Worcester

    //if the person’s name can be run through a security database intended to screen out toddler terrorists.
    I’d laugh at that line were it not so sad to realise that is exactly what we have come to.

    Cue also I suppose the righteous indignation of those who ascribe to the Mike Rowe philosophy of how airplanes are supposed to work. After all “a plane is not a democracy”, especially if you are a toddler.

  • What’s even worse about this is how the flight attendant blatantly lied to the family in an effort to get the seat, by saying the baby is safest in their arms. That’s false and the FAA website says that babies are safest in a seat restraint. Even Delta’s own website says babies can have their own seat with an approved child safety seat (and every seat sold in the US is an approved seat).

  • KariBemidji

    Maybe United, Delta and AA need to chat with the CEO of Southwest. At least they try to make flying fun and pleasant (a pretty low bar).

  • KTFoley

    From Delta Airlines’ website:
    Lap Infants: You may travel with one infant on your lap without purchasing a ticket, as long as the infant is under the age of two, you are at least 18 years old, you are the infant’s parent or legal guardian and you are traveling within the U.S.*

    Infant Ticket Requirements: A ticket is required for children two and older, or if you: 1) are traveling with more than one infant (and already have one on your lap); 2) are traveling between countries; or, 3) wish to earn miles.

    According to the Washington Post, the child in question was a two-year-old, the parents had paid for a seat, and they already had a one-year old on the lap.

    So were the gate agents saying that (a) they don’t know their own regulations but are willing to threaten Federal issues & jail time to enforce a notion contrary to the stated language; or (b) these regulations only apply when there is not an opportunity to make more money by seating the oversold passengers?

  • Geezer44

    This is nuts! This young family should have been allowed to fly on this plane. The airline representative was wrong. I hope they compensate this family greatly, or they should be sued! This is just nuts!

  • Paul

    They should have deferred to the captain.

  • Thomas Mercier

    I love the “courtesy” guilt trip. You can sit here as long as you want and hold up the entire plane, or you can be the nice one and you can leave.
    A good example of the old customer service adage “The customer is always the burden”.

  • FrequentFlyer

    Well, wait a minute. If the son who was to originally to use the seat instead took a seat on another earlier plane, that would mean the ticket would be applied to the seat on the earlier plane. The ticket goes with the passenger and the airline is now able to utilize the vacant seat.

    When booking, travelers can specify whether young children are traveling as lap children, and if that’s what they family did, they have no claim to the seat. Insisting that the now empty seat is still theirs to use seems like double dipping on the part of the family.

    • No, the ticket goes with flight. If he took another flight, it’s another ticket.

      • KTFoley

        The article backs up Bob’s statement — the family bought an additional ticket for the older son to fly home earlier.

  • MikeB

    It’s time to break up the airlines

  • Guest

    If the person took an earlier flight, the ticket for current flight is no longer valid. Name and itinerary is transferred to the earlier flight. This family is trying to get 2 seats for the price of 1. That is the basic premise of this situation.

    • I don’t think that’s it. I think they paid for two seats but I think when the kid didn’t show, the airline sold the seat as they would for any no show.

  • Guest

    How much do airlines spend on advertising and “customer experience”?? How about letting front line folks do the kindest action and taking a small hit on that cost versus going viral??
    SUPPORT the call of the front-line crew and they will bend the rule FOR the customer. Punish and you get rule-Nazis……and viral vids.