Mom Outraged After United Airlines Gives Her Son's Expensive Seat To Another Passenger

A mother and her 2-year-old son were forced to share a seat (for the entirety of a 3-and-a-half-hour flight from Houston to Boston) after United Airlines gave the $1,000 reserved seat to another passenger, who only paid $75. Ms. Shirley Yamauchi was furious when her son’s seat was thoughtlessly gifted to a businessman, leaving her to cradle her 2-year-old awkwardly in her lap for the duration of the flight.

Ms. Yamauchi, a middle school teacher from Hawaii, was travelling to a teachers’ conference and was required, by law, to purchase a separate seat for her son on the combined 18-hour trip. Ms. Yamauchi booked the tickets for her and her son months in advance, paying $1000 for each ticket.

Having arrived for their flight two hours earlier and following the correct check-in procedure, Ms. Yamauchi was confused when a businessman was given her son’s seat on the flight, leaving her 25-lb son to rest on her lap, unrestrained. “I told him [the businessman] that I bought both of these tickets and he tells me that he got the ticket on standby. Then he proceeds to sit in the center,” Ms. Yamauchi stated. Thinking that the flight attendant may be able to help, Ms. Yamauchi informed her of the situation. However, instead of receiving help, the flight attendant simply shrugged her shoulders and told Ms. Yamauchi that the flight was full, before walking away.

With her son now at risk, Ms. Yamauchi wanted to speak up and find a seat for her son, but, after reports of the airline’s excessive force, she was afraid of retaliation from United staff members. “I started remembering all of those incidents with United on the news. The violence. Teeth getting knocked out. I’m Asian. I’m scared and I felt uncomfortable. I didn’t want those things to happen to me,” Ms. Yamauchi stated, deciding to endure the flight with her son sat in her lap. “I was very uncomfortable. My hand, my left arm was smashed up against the wall. I lost feeling in my legs and left arm.”

Despite the FAA strongly advising against children over the age of two sharing a seat with an adult, clearly identifying that “your arms aren’t capable of holding your child securely, especially during unexpected turbulence,” no United flight attendants did anything to alleviate the problem. “What happened to my son was unsafe, uncomfortable and unfair,” Ms. Yamauchi noted. Thinking that she would have more luck on the ground, Ms. Yamauchi spoke to agents at the landing gate, before being directed to customer service and then to a customer service hotline number.

After finally discussing the issue over the phone, Ms. Yamauchi was informed that while her son’s ticket could be refunded, it would have to wait until she returned home from her conference to ensure that the rest of her flight arrangements weren’t cancelled. Five days after the flight, United issued an apology to Ms. Yamauchi, offering her a full refund and a flight voucher. “We deeply apologize to Ms. Yamauchi and her son for this experience… we are working with our gate staff to prevent this from happening again.”

Source: Daily Mail
Photo: Shirley Yamauchi

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