A 42-year-old woman alleged that she was forced to carry her 27-month old child on her lap on a United Airlines flight from Hawaii to Boston when the seat booked for her son was taken away by the airline and given to a standby passenger, said a report in the Huffington Post.
The woman who hails from Hawaii said the ordeal took place when she was seated on the plane with her son. United Airlines’ policy requires that children aged over two years of age need to travel on their own seat. The women named Shirley Yamauchi said that she had bought the two tickets for $1,000 each. The incident took place last week after her Yamauchi’s son’s ticket was sold by the airline to a standby passenger.
She said that even after informing the flight attendants of the issue she faced, she received no help. “She shrugged, said the flight was full,” Yamauchi told HuffPost. “The whole transaction was very quick.”
The report showed pictures that Yamauchi clicked that showed her son sitting on his seat and then sitting on her mother’s lap with a new passenger sitting beside her. She said that her 25-pound son was too heavy to carry for long durations so he had to crouch on the floor or stand during the 3 1/2 hour flight.
She said that her son, Taizo, was half her height. Yamauchi is 5’2 ft. “I was very uncomfortable. My hand, my left arm was smashed up against the wall. I lost feeling in my legs and left arm,” she said in the report. She added that after the flight departed, no flight attended asked her about the seating arrangement for the rest of the flight. She said it violated the airline’s “travelling with children” policy.
The American Federal Aviation Administration in its special regulations and advisories for passengers says, “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. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) strongly urges you to secure your child in a CRS or device for the duration of your flight. It’s the smart and right thing to do so that everyone in your family arrives safely at your destination.”
According to the report, Yamauchi didn’t escalate the matter as she feared retaliation as people have faced in previous incidents on the airlines’ flights–some of which had turned violent or led to physical manhandling.
“I started remembering all those incidents with United on the news. The violence. Teeth getting knocked out,” she told according to the Huffington Post report. “I’m Asian. I’m scared and I felt uncomfortable. I didn’t want those things to happen to me.”
After reports of the incidents started appearing in news outlets, the airline issued a formal apology. It also sent her a travel voucher against her son’s ticket.
The report said that United Airline spokesman Jonathan Geurin told NBC that the airline’s employees “inaccurately scanned” the boarding pass of Taizo which led the staff to believe that he hadn’t boarded the flight. He added that that was why the seat was released to a standby passenger and Yamauchi had to carry her son on her lap.
“We deeply apologize to Ms. Yamauchi and her son for this experience. We are refunding her son’s ticket and providing a travel voucher. We are also working with our gate staff to prevent this from happening again,” the United spokesman said in the statement as carried in the report.