United Airlines have flown straight into another PR disaster after giving away a $1,000 seat occupied by a kid to a standby passenger.
Shirley Yamauchi claims her son, Taizo, who weighs 25lbs, was forced to sit on her lap for the entire duration of their flight after a United Airlines stewardess told her the $1,000 seat – purchased three months ago – was given away to someone flying standby.
Yamauchi bought two airline tickets for a teachers conference in Boston, because children over the age of two are legally required to sit in their own seat. The round trip set her back $2,000.
And yet the Hawaiian teacher and her toddler were forced to spend the final leg of their 18-hour journey from Hawaii to Boston in varying degrees of discomfort.
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.
I had him in all these contorted sleeping positions. In the end, very sadly, he was standing up between my knees. What happened to my son was unsafe, uncomfortable and unfair.
She told KITV Island News that when the gentleman – a standby passenger who’d spent $75 on his plane fare – was directed to sit in her son’s seat, the flight attendant simply shrugged off her complaint, abruptly replying: “Flight’s full.”
The worried teacher added she was reluctant to retaliate to the injustice, after a documented incident of violence against Kentucky doctor, Mr Dao, have plagued United Airlines’ reputation.
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. 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’m scared. I’m worried. I’m travelling with an infant. I didn’t want to get hurt. I didn’t want either of us to get hurt.
According to a company spokesperson – who deserves a raise for all this overtime they’ve pulled in the past few months – the incident occurred after the young passenger’s boarding pass was scanned incorrectly.
The clerical error meant the UA systems didn’t register him as having boarded, so his seat was promptly given to a standby passenger.
The company 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.”