The latest video of a clash between airline passengers and crew on a Delta Air Lines flight focused the spotlight on confusing federal and airline rules governing travel for small children.
Brian and Brittany Schear of Huntington Beach, Calif., told KABC-TV that they were returning from Maui with their two toddlers when the dispute arose on April 23. They wanted to put a 2-year-old child in a seat they had bought for their 18-year-old son, Mason, who had flown home on an earlier flight.
Here's what contributed to most recent encounter on a flight to go viral.
1. The name on the ticket
Delta Air Lines says on its website that tickets can’t be transferred and names can’t be changed.
The Transportation Security Administration said federal regulations don’t prevent changing the name on a ticket – so long as the new passenger’s name can be run through a database to confirm the person isn't a threat before the flight.
2. Car seat or lap baby? How children 2 and under are supposed to fly
Another facet of the dispute is that the Federal Aviation Administration “strongly urges” that infants travel in a car seat for safety, although children up to age 2 can be held in a parent’s lap.
Delta also recommends on its web site that parents buy a seat for children under 2 and put them in an approved child-safety seat.
In a video of the incident, somebody off camera mistakenly tells Schear that federal rules require children to remain in a parent’s lap throughout a flight.
“You and your wife will be in jail," another person off-camera tells Schear. "It’s a federal offense if you don’t abide" an airline crew’s order.
Schear can be heard arguing with someone off-camera, saying he won’t leave the flight. “I bought that seat,” he said.
3. Reasons passengers can get kicked off flights (hint: there are a lot)
Delta still hasn't explained why the Schears were removed from the plane. A spokesman has said the flight was not overbooked. However, Delta can remove passengers from flights for a whole list of reasons.
Those include being disorderly or annoying, as well as being barefoot, appearing intoxicated, having a contagious disease, smelling bad and so on. Each provision is detailed in the nearly 51-page document called a “contract of carriage” that every passenger accepts when buying a ticket.
The Schears ultimately left the flight and paid an extra $2,000 to travel the next day, according to The Los Angeles Times.
Delta apologized Thursday and offered a refund to the Schears.
"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,” the Atlanta-based airline said. “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 incident was the latest dealing with videotaped disputes between airline crews and passengers over arcane rules. Other incidents included United Airlines dragging a passenger off a flight to make room for a crew member and a fight on an American Airlines flight over a woman bringing a stroller into the cabin. United and American have each apologized for the incidents.
Contributing: The Associated Press