A mother and teacher from Hawaii was forced to give up her 2-year-old son’s seat on a United Airlines flight.
The mother, Shirley Yamauchi, was on her way from Hawaii to Boston for a teacher’s conference with her toddler, Taizo. She had bought seats for both of them, as United requires children over the age of 2 to “have a purchased ticket and occupy a seat.”
The first leg of their journey, from Hawaii to Houston, went fine.
As they were getting ready for their second flight, to Boston, to take off, a man walked up to them and said he and Taizo had the same seat number.
United Airlines said the error was due to Taizo’s boarding pass not being properly scanned when he boarded. As a result, young Taizo’s seat was sold to someone else.
Yamauchi told the man, “I bought both of these seats.” The tickets had cost her nearly $1,000.
“I was told, ‘If we refund you anything right now, we’re going to have to cancel the rest of your flight arrangements [back] to Hawaii,’” Yamauchi told KITV.
Yamauchi was left with limited options at that point. She wanted to protest, but considering how things have played out this past year for United, that did not seem to be the safest option.
So what did she do? Apparently left with no other choice, Yamauchi gave up Taizo’s seat and held him in her lap for the entire three-hour flight to Boston.
Besides it being against the Federal Aviation Administration safety advice to hold your child during a flight, it was also a very uncomfortable three hours for Yamauchi.
With her arm squished between the wall and her son most of the time, Yamauchi’s arms and legs began to go numb. It became so unbearable toward the end of the flight, she said, that she made her son stand up between her knees.
She says that Taizo weights approximately 25 pounds.
A United spokesperson apologized to Yamauchi and her son in a statement for the inconvenience and said the airline plans to compensate them “as a goodwill gesture.”
The company also plans to work with employees make sure it does not happen again.