Airline Threatens Parents With 'Foster Care' If They Don't Give Up Toddler's Seat

Delta threatens foster care
Brian S/YouYube; ABC7

Quick! Do you know your rights on an airplane? What about the rules for traveling with your kids on a plane? After the ordeal one Southern California family went through on a Delta flight out of Maui this week, you might want to brush up on what's recommended for flying with little ones. 


Because their flight was over-sold, Brian and Brittany Schear say flight attendants told them their 2-year-old would have to vacate a seat they'd paid for, and he would have to sit on their laps instead. The toddler was in a car seat, so the parents refused to move him. But when they refused, Delta staff was not happy.

Because the couple had paid for the seat in the name of their eldest son, Mason, who'd instead caught an earlier flight so his little brother could take his seat, the staffers told them they didn't have the right to use the seat they'd paid for -- the seat being occupied by Mason's toddler brother. Delta staff threatened to have the parents arrested and both the little one in the seat and their other young child hauled off to foster care if the couple didn't put the toddler on Mom's or Dad's lap.

More from CafeMom: 21 Spot-On Cartoons That Capture Those WTF Parenting Moments

In the YouTube video, you can hear Delta staff say, "… a federal offense, and then you and your wife will be in jail and your kids will be in foster care."

"You're saying you're gonna give that away to someone else when I paid for that seat? That's not right," Brian says.

The airline staff is also clearly heard telling Brian that his family is violating airline regulations by having a child under 2 years of age sitting in a seat by himself -- which is completely untrue!

You can see much of the confrontation in a video the Schears family shared on YouTube:

Scary stuff, right? The family did end up getting booted off the plan, but fortunately the threats against them (i.e., their kids getting taken away) proved false. 

And while there's been substantial debate over whether the couple's changing out which son sat in the seat technically falls under the airline rules, here's something that's not up for debate: The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) advises AGAINST what the Delta attendants were telling these parents they had to do. 

According to the FAA's guidelines on flying with children, "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[.] Your arms aren't capable of holding your child securely, especially during unexpected turbulence."

In fact, the FAA also advises parents seek a discounted fare from the airline because buying your child his or her own seat is the only way to use a restraint system -- like Brian and Brittany's son's carseat.  

More from CafeMom: Why Sharing a Photo of Your Toddler's Car Seat Could Save a Life

Technically these are guidelines, rather than ironclad rules, but considering they come from the FAA, they hold some water. They're certainly worth taking a quick screenshot of to pull up on your phone (or printing out ... yes, people still do that) before your next flight. 

And if that's not enough, you can also take a screenshot of your airline's rules. In the case of Delta, it's recommended that "you purchase a seat on the aircraft and use an approved child safety seat" for kids under age 2. 

More from CafeMom: Babies Suffer Broken Spines During Turbulent Flight

Ironic, huh? Now if only this couple had had that information handy when someone was threatening to take their kids away. 

Read More >