The airline issued an apology Thursday for an incident in which a Delta employee and a police officer threatened parents with jail time over a seat they’d booked for their son.

The operator said it was “sorry for the unfortunate experience” after Brian and Brittany Schear posted a video online showing them being told to leave their flight or be arrested during a dispute over a spare seat they had bought.

Delta apologized for kicking a southern California family with two young children off a flight after the customers already boarded. He said once they exited the plane, their seats were filled with four other customers who had purchased tickets, but had no seats. “When will this all stop?” On the day of the family’s travel, they put their 1-year-old in his auto seat, into their older son’s purchased seat (as opposed to holding him on their laps, as was their initial intention). The two-year-old reportedly had an “infant in arms” ticket requiring him to be held by an adult.

Later, the crew member tells Schear that remaining in his seat is a federal offense, and that if he remains he’ll end up in jail and his child in foster care.

In a statement issued Thursday afternoon, Delta expressed sympathy for the family’s plight. “I’m just trying to help you, this is all I can do”.

Along with two of their three kids, the couple was on a Delta Airlines flight taking off on April 23.

The video shows a security official and an airline employee telling the Schears that they must deplane. But he changed his mind and bought his older son a ticket on an earlier flight so that his younger son could have Mason’s seat and sleep during the flight back to California. “That did not happen in this case, and we apologise”, Delta said.

“Then they can remove me off the plane”, he replied.

Mrs Schear spoke to ABC and said: “As a mother, you have a one-year-old and a two-year-old, it doesn’t matter whether that’s true or false, it put fear in me”.

“We want you and your children to have the safest, most comfortable flight possible, for kids under the age of two, we recommend you purchase a seat on the aircraft and use an approved child safety seat”, the Delta website states.

Schear refused and an employee tells him refusing to get off the plane was a federal offense and he could be jailed.

Apparently, the airline didn’t compensate for their actions, and Brian and Brittany were forced to find a hotel room after midnight after being booted off and spent $2,000 for another ticket flight home.

When Schear asks what will happen to his family, who did not have accommodations for the night or another flight to get on, the representative tersely responds, “at this point, you guys are on your own”.