Delta Air Lines last night issued an apology after a family was ejected from a flight for refusing to give up a seat for their two-year-old son despite having paid for it.

Brian and Brittany Schear, of Huntington Beach, California, told NBC News that they had already boarded the flight from Maui to Los Angeles with their two infant children on April 23 when they were kicked off the aircraft following an argument with officials.

The couple said they were then forced to find their own hotel, transportation and purchase new tickets for a flight the next day — all after midnight.

Brian Schear said the family had initially purchased a ticket for their teenage son on the red-eye flight, but decided to send him home early so that their two-year-old could have a seat on the plane. The couple was also travelling with a one-year-old.

He said they let the ticket agent know about their situation at the gate, and that the agent accommodated the family to sit together.

Schear said they boarded the plane without issue, but with other passengers on the standby list for the flight, he was then told by Delta agents that the two-year-old had to give up his seat — and then threatened with jail.

The incident came to light yesterday after the family posted video of the argument online in the latest embarrassing incident to affect the US airline industry.

Brittany Schear captured the moments leading up to their removal from the flight, showing either an airline or airport employee telling Brian that if he and his family did not comply, they would all be kicked off the aircraft.

The employee said that because Schear’s teenage son was not present and the ticket was in his name, the two-year-old could not sit there and had to give up the seat.

Later in the video, another employee said that Federal Aviation Administration rules stipulate that a two-year-old cannot be in a seat, or occupy a car seat, and needed to be sitting an adult’s lap.

Schear responded that their son had sat in a car seat, in his own seat on the aircraft, on their way to Maui.

Brittany Schear said she was most upset that the employee had threatened them with jail, and the removal of their children.

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.” 

The latest incident follows United Airlines reaching an undisclosed settlement with David Dao after he was forcibly removed from an overbooked US domestic flight.