HOUSTON, TEXAS — The airline everyone loves to hate is once again in the headlines, this time for giving away a toddler’s seat and forcing him to sit on his mom’s lap for the entire flight.
ABC reports that Shirley Yamauchi and her 27-month-old son Taizo were on the final leg of an 18-hour journey from Hawaii to Boston last June 29.
United Airlines agents at Houston’s Bush Intercontinental Airport scanned their tickets and let them through without incident. But once onboard, a passenger who’d been on the standby list arrived with a $75 ticket for Taizo’s seat.
Yamauchi was confused, having paid $969 for the seat. She notified a flight attendant about the confusion, but the woman just shrugged and told her the flight was full.
Wary of making a scene and getting the David Dao treatment, Yamauchi chose not to argue with the flight attendants. She was instead forced to hold her son on her lap for the entire three-and-a-half-hour flight.
Photos taken by Yamauchi show her toddler in several contorted sleeping positions. At some point, Taizo, who weighed 25 pounds, became too heavy to hold, and ended up standing between her knees.
After getting off the plane, Yamauchi told agents at the gate of her ordeal. They directed her to customer service, who then told her to call the hotline, according to KITV. United did eventually get in touch, but only after the story got picked up by the media.
United has released a statement saying the ticket was “scanned incorrectly”, making it look like it wasn’t checked in. Sounds like a pile of horse dung.
The airline’s own guidelines require children 2 years and older to have a seat, but I guess those rules don’t count if there’s an opportunity to grab a couple hundred bucks.