Shirley Yamauchi, a middle school teacher, told the outlet that she paid almost $1,000 for her 2-year-old son’s ticket. They were in Houston, on the second leg of a flight last week from Hawaii to Boston.
While awaiting takeoff, a male passenger approached and displayed his ticket to Yamauchi, which showed the same seat number as her son.
“It was very shocking. I was confused. I told him, I bought both of these seats,” she told KITV. “The flight attendant came by, shrugs and says ‘flights full’.”
Yamauchi thought it would be unwise to cause a scene, fearing that the flight attendants would have her dragged off the plane, as another United crew did with David Dao.
“I’m scared. I’m worried. I’m traveling with an infant. I didn’t want to get hurt. I didn’t want either of us to get hurt,” she explained to the outlet.
Consequently, the mother felt compelled to place the child on her lap, holding him in “contorted sleeping positions.”
KITV noted that FAA guidelines advise against holding a child during flight because it’s unsafe during moments of sudden turbulence.
The airline’s customer service personnel were unhelpful after she arrived in Boston, Yamauchi said. But as news spread, United contacted her on Tuesday with an offer to refund her son’s ticket and give her a travel voucher, NBC News reported.
United Airlines spokesman Jonathan Guerin issued this statement, via NBC:
“On a recent flight from Houston to Boston, we inaccurately scanned the boarding pass of Ms. Yamauchi’s son. As a result, her son’s seat appeared to be not checked in, and staff released his seat to another customer and Ms. Yamauchi held her son for the flight. We deeply apologize to Ms. Yamauchi and her son for this experience.”
NBC said Yamauchi doubts that there was a problem scanning her son’s ticket, and she finds the compensation offer insufficient because it doesn’t cover “pain and discomfort.”