According to Hawaii News Now
, a teacher from Hawaii was forced to hold her toddler throughout the entirety of their three and a half hour flight even though she had purchased a ticket for him. The reason? United Airlines had given away his ticket to a standby passenger.
Shirley Yamauchi, 47, was on her way to a teacher conference in Boston, having purchased the plane tickets three months prior. Due to safety regulations, children over the age of two are required to sit in their own seat; Yamauchi naturally obliged, paying almost $2,000 to secure passage for herself and her son, Taizo.
The Kapolei Middle School teacher states that they had already boarded and were seated when a flight attendant asked if Taizo was in his seat. Yamauchi pointed to her son, ready and waiting for takeoff, but that didn’t stop the flight attendant from forcing the 27 month old out of the seat his mother had purchased to make way for a standby passenger claiming the seat was his.
“He and I, we had both our tickets scanned, we both went on board no problem,”
Yamauchi told KITV4
“I told him 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,” she told Hawaii News Now.
Yamauchi voiced her complaints to the flight attendant, but the United Airlines employee merely shrugged, mumbled something about the flight being full, and walked off.
“It was very shocking. I was confused. I told him, I bought both of these seats. The flight attendant came by, shrugs and says ‘flights full.'”
“I had to move my son onto my lap. 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,” 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.”
It wasn’t until five days later that United Airlines had finally responded to the incident. They have since apologized.
A United Airlines spokesperson claims that Taizo’s boarding pass had been inaccurately scanned, causing their system to believe that he had not been checked in. This prompted personnel to give his seat to another passenger who only paid $75 for a spot on the flight, according to KITV4
The company said, “We deeply apologize 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.”
Yamauchi is still nervous about flying with the company again after this grueling incident.
“I had bought both of these tickets way in advance. We did the two hour check-in time before boarding. I had my receipts. I had my boarding pass. Yet this happened,” Yamauchi said.