You may remember the images of Dr. David Dao being forcibly removed from a United Airlines flight – his seat was required for some United Airlines crew members who needed to crew another flight. This was terrible PR for United, especially as they initially denied they were wrong and then, faced with a public backlash, compensated the passenger with an out-of-court settlement. If you didn’t see the video already then it’s at the end of this post.
I haven’t flown United Airlines for 20 years following a really poor First Class flight from London to LA. I have flown Delta quite a few times and always found them to be okay. So I was surprised to see this story and video about a family flying from Hawaii to Los Angeles on April 23rd 2017 who were removed from a flight for a pretty stupid reason. All service industries, especially airlines, should know that everyone has a movie camera in their pocket these days and that any mistreatment videos will wildfire around the internet.
Husband and wife, Brian and Brittany Schear, were flying with two of their three children; their two-year-old son Grayson, and a one-year-old daughter. Their 18-year old son, Mason, had taken an earlier flight but also had a ticket for this flight. The family believed that Mason’s seat could be used for the two-year old in a car seat.
The Schears were probably wrong to think that the un-used seat was still theirs, as effectively Mason was a no show, although I guess they checked him in online and had a boarding pass. They were correct that regulations allowed their two-year old to be strapped into a car seat.
Had the flight not been overbooked, everything may have been okay. But Delta wanted to use the seat for a passenger. There was an argument. Mr. Schear did relent and say “okay, is there an option now for us to just have the kids on our laps”, but was told they were being removed from the flight. When Mr. Schear initially refused to leave, an official says “In that case you and your wife will be in jail, and your kids will be taken away from you.”
Have a look at the video below. I think Mr. Schear was pretty reasonable throughout and Delta should have taken his offer to do what they’d initially asked.
Delta have since contacted the family and offered compensation. At least they didn’t mess around like United, but it’s still an epic PR fail.
And here is a news video that Dr. David Dao being removed from the United Airlines flight and an interview with the United Airlines CEO: