Between the guy dragged off a United flight for refusing to up his seat to a member of the flight crew, the mom holding twin babies who was nearly struck with a stroller by an American Airlines flight attendant, and the air marshall who left a (loaded!) gun in the bathroom of a Delta flight, public relations experts working in the friendly skies have inarguably accrued a significant amount of overtime lately.
As if drawing blood and tears and inducing trauma wasn't bad enough, another on-board story is going viral due to airline professionals demonstrating behavior usually reserved for millennial-angst movies, starring Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill. Brian and Brittany Schear of Huntingon Beach, Calif., were returning from a vacation in Maui with two of their three children in late April when they boarded a Delta flight. They de-planed shortly thereafter following a verbal spar with airline officials, who threatened them with jail time.
According to NBC News, the Schear's 18-year-old son had initially been booked on the red-eye, but ended up going home earlier so the parents could both fly with their younger children, ages 1 and 2. The situation was explained to a ticket agent, who said it would be no problem for the 2-year-old to use his older brother's tickets, and for the the four family members to be seated all together.
However, with an oversold flight and standby list, Delta agents told the Schears after they boarded that their 2-year-old had to give up his seat because the ticket was not in his name.
Brittany filmed the exchange, which she posted to YouTube. In the video, Brian is seen being told that they needed to comply or get kicked off the plane.
"Then they can remove me off the plane," Brian said.
"So this is a federal offense," an agent said. "You and your wife could be in jail and your kids will be in foster care."
"I bought that seat … you're saying you're going to give that away to someone else when I paid for that seat. That's not right," Schear responded.
Also not right was an agent telling the Schears that 2-year-olds must sit in their parents lap on the plane, per Federal Aviation Administration rules. Of course, that's incorrect, as any family with a baby knows: Children under 2 may be on their parents' lap, but following their second birthday, they are required to sit in their own seat for which a ticket has been purchased.
The family ended up leaving the flight after midnight to search for a place to stay and book new airlines tickets. Delta has since apologized for the incident and refunded the Schear family for the cost of their tickets, although the sting of the jail threat has yet to diminish.
'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
"I'm not a confrontational person," Brittany said, "and when you're a mother and you have your 1-year-old and your 2-year-old and they threaten to take your kids away from you, I mean whether that's possible or whether that's, you know, against the law, it just, it made my heart drop."
In addition to paying them back for their tickets, Delta also issued a statement, saying, "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."
While it is, in fact, correct that names on tickets cannot be changed, incorrectly directing a family to be seated in an unsafe fashion is hardly the least worst choice among the two. If anyone needs a timeout for a customer service intervention, it's the airline industry.