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Delta under harsh spotlight for treatment of family

May 8, 2017 Headline News 1 Comment Email Email

A Delta pilot was denounced on social media for slapping a brawling female passenger – but that was last week. Now the airline is in trouble for its treatment of a family.

Before that, Delta was doing well on the consumer relations front, offering more than other airline to compensate passengers forced to give up their seats on US domestic routes.

Now, however, Delta has evicted a family of four from a long-haul overnight flight from Honolulu to Los Angeles. They were kicked off the flight for refusing to give up a seat that they had paid for.

According to ABC Los Angeles Eyewitness News, the Schear family from California were ordered by crew to surrender the seat occupied by their two-year-old son sitting in his car seat (considered safer in flight that holding a toddler on take-off) so the airline could accommodate a standby passenger.

The flight seems to have been overbooked. A Delta employee can be heard on a video telling father Brian Schear that US Federal Aviation Authority regulations require that the child sit on his lap.

A YouTube video of the exchange was posted and then withdrawn, but footage appears on many news sites:

The advice from the Delta employee is wrong. US regulations do not say that and neither does Delta’s own website.

Schear is shown in the video trying to reason with Delta cabin crew. “You’re saying you’re gonna give that away to someone else when I paid for that seat? That’s not right . . . you need to do what’s right . . . I bought the seat and you need to just leave us alone.”

Schear had bought the seat for his 18-year-old elder son, who ended up catching an earlier flight, so he placed his younger son in the seat.

Outrageously, a cabin crewmember told Schear that he and his family would have to leave the plane for failing to comply with instructions. “That will be a federal offence and you and your wife will be in jail and your kids will be in foster care.”

Salon.com in the US quoted mother Brittany Schear saying the flight attendant’s threat, “put fear in me,” because she has a one-year-old and a two-year-old.In an apology issued to Eyewitness News, Delta said:

“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. 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 apologise.”

With video of the confrontation having gone viral, much of the reputational damage may already have been done.

Written by Peter Needham

Currently there is "1 comment" on this Article:

  1. Peter Middleton says:

    It seems every US airline CEO would be well advised to read Jan Carlzon’s “Moments of Truth”, published in 1987, when he was CEO of SAS. And then supply a copy to every member of staff as compulsory reading. The core message is that every customer contact person has 15 seconds to turn a customer situation into a reputation-building positive or reputation-destroying negative. It’s a slim volume but runs totally counter to the service industry cancer we are seeing epitomised by US airlines; ineptitude endemic from the top, down.

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