"Did you know that the safest place for your child on an airplane is in a government-approved child safety restraint system (CRS) or device, not on your lap?" That's per the FAA, but Delta ordered a California family to go the lap route as they returned from a Hawaii trip last month. Per KABC, Brian Schear was with his wife and two babies after deciding to send their teen son, Mason, home on an earlier flight. They put 2-year-old Grayson, in his car seat, in Mason's seat instead. But the flight was overbooked and Delta wanted Mason's seat. Schear posted a YouTube video of the incident, in which a Delta staff member tells him Grayson has to sit on his lap for the entire flight. "It's not a Delta rule, it's FAA, because he's 2 and under," the woman says. "You and your wife will be in jail and your kids will be in foster care," another worker notes when Schear says he bought that seat and they'll have to remove him from the flight.
The issue, as the Washington Post notes, is Delta tickets are "nontransferable," meaning because Mason wasn't there, the airline could take the seat back. As for Delta's lap-sitting mandate to Schear, FAA rules are murky (there's no age reference), but Delta's own site spells it out clearly. "You'll need to purchase a ticket for your child when you have a child that is age two or older … a reserved seat and ticket are required for the entire journey." The Schears finally agreed to hold Grayson, but by then the airline wanted them off. The family disembarked around midnight, tracked down a hotel, and coughed up another $2,000 for a flight home the next day on United. Per CBS Los Angeles, Schear said he doesn't want their money back—just an apology. Delta told CBS in a statement it was sorry for the family's experience and has "reached out" to them. (Another recent airline fiasco.)