A family was removed from an overbooked flight and threatened with jail for not giving up a seat that was occupied by their two-year-old son.
Staff aboard the Delta airlines flight from Hawaii to Los Angeles asked the Schear family from Southern California to carry the two-year-old on their laps. A video has emerged of the incident.
Brian Schear said that staff told him that they were told that they would be sent to jail and the boy taken away from them if they did not agree to the demand.
An official told Mr Schear that he would have to leave the plane before it took off.
“Then they can remove me off the plane,” he replied. “You and your whole family?” the official asked.
“Yeah, that’s fine,” he said.
“So, then, it’s going to be a federal offence,” another agent quickly chimed in, “and you and your wife will be in jail and your kids will be —.”
Schear at this point interrupted and said: “We’re going to be in jail and my kids are going to be what?”.
“It’s a federal offence if you don’t abide by it,” she said. “I bought that seat,” said Schear. “You’re saying you’re going to give that away to someone else when I paid for that seat. That’s not right.”
His wife Brittany said although the family believed they were in the right there was little they could do.
"As a mother, you have a one-year-old and two-year-old - it doesn't matter whether that's true or false. It put fear in me," she told ABC.
The seat in question was initially reserved for the Schear’s 18-year-son Mason, who had travelled on an earlier flight. So they thought the seat could be used for their younger child.
Airline staff argued they needed the seat as the flight was overbooked and it was not being used by the person it was designated for.
Mr Schear eventually agreed to carry his son on his lap but at this point the entire family was apparently asked to leave the plane.
As a result, the family said they were forced to book a hotel room and pay $2,000 (£1,550) for another flight the next day.
The Independent has contacted Delta for a comment but none had arrived at the time of publication.
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