A mother claims that her two-year-old son had to share her seat for three-and-a-half hours on a United Airlines flight to make room for another passenger.
Shirley Yamauchi, a teacher from Hawaii, splashed out $1,000 (£770) on a seat for her son, but claims a stewardess told her to give up her seat – despite any child over two being required to have their own.
Yamauchi was travelling with her son to a teacher’s conference in Boston, when the incident occurred.
She later claimed that the last minute passenger admitted that he only paid $75 for the ticket.
Credit: Shirley Yamauchi
Yamauchi told KITV Island News: “I told him [the new passenger] 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 centre.”
The teacher claims that when she alerted the issue to a flight attendant they shrugged, said the flight was full, and walked away.
“I had to move my son onto my lap,” she continued. “He’s 25 pounds. He’s half my height. I was very uncomfortable. My hand, my left arm was smashed up against the wall. I lost feeling in my legs and left arm.”
The flight was the last leg of the 18-hour journey from Hawaii, but the teacher said she didn’t dare speak up after the airline’s previous scandals.
In April, the airline hit the headlines after Doctor David Dao was physically removed from the flight after it had been ‘overbooked’.
Force was used when he refused to move, despite claims he was selected at random. The two parties have now reached an agreement.
She said: “I started remembering all 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,’ she said.
“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.”
Credit: Shirley Yamachui
Yamauchi said her son was left uncomfortable on her lap and even spent some of the journey stood in between her legs.
The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) strongly advises against this, stating that you cannot safely hold someone in times of unexpected turbulence.
When Yamauchi complained to customer services, she was told that she was not entitled to an immediate refund, otherwise it would affect her journey home.
She told KITV Island News: “It’s worrisome. Everyone who has helped me so far has contradicted each other. With their suggestions, this needs to stop. United have made errors that make national headlines, yet, it continues.”
Credit: Facebook/Shirley Yamachui
Five days after the flight, the airline issued an apology, reports the Daily Mail.
A spokesperson for United Airlines said: “We deeply apologise 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.”