Brian and Brittany Schear of Huntington Beach were returning from Hawaii on a red-eye flight on April 23 with their two toddlers when the disagreement began. The couple says they originally purchased a seat on the flight for their 18-year-old son Mason, but decided later to fly him back to Los Angeles on an earlier flight so they could use the seat for the younger sibling, Grayson, who would be placed in a car seat.
According to the Schear family, a Delta gate agent said that plan would be fine. But things turned ugly once the family took their seats.
In the video, someone is heard telling Brian Schear, "You have to give up the seat or you're going to jail, your wife is going to jail and they'll take your kids from you." Delta Air Lines told ABC News they do not know who said those comments.
"So we're gonna be in jail and my kids are gonna what?" Schear responded. "I bought that seat."
Schear is heard in the video trying to explain that after originally buying a seat for his teenage son on the red-eye, he wanted to free it up for his 2-year-old. The two-year-old was originally planned to sit in the lap of his mother or father. Schear bought another ticket for his teenager on a different flight so that his two-year-old take the seat and sleep more easily.
"It's a red-eye, he won't sleep unless he's in his car seat," he says during the onboard incident. "So otherwise he would be sitting in my wife's lap, crawling all over the place, and it's not as safe. So we decided to do it that way and let him use his seat. I paid for the seat, this is what's ridiculous!"
Someone is heard, but not seen, in the video telling Schear that the seat can only be used by the person who is assigned to it.
"You're saying you're gonna give that away to someone else when I paid for that seat?" the father said. "That's not right."
Eventually he agreed to hold his son for the flight, but the airline kicked the family off the flight, he said.
The Schear family said they were forced to spend $2,000 on another flight the next day.
Delta Air Lines released a statement on Thursday afternoon apologizing for not accommodating the family.
"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," reads the statement. "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."