United Airlines is in hot water once again after the airline took a seat from a 27-month-old boy and re-sold it to a standby customer, forcing the toddler to sit on his mother’s lap for the entire three-and-a-half hour flight.
The incident happened this week to Shirley Yamauchi at the end of an 18-hour flight from Hawaii to Boston with her young son in tow. Yamauchi said she was ready to board the final leg of the trip and had just scanned her son’s ticket when another man waiting to fly standby found he had the same seat number as the young boy.
As CNN reported, the airline gave the seat to the man even though Yamauchi had purchased the ticket ahead of time.
“The flight attendant came by, shrugs and says ‘flights full,'” Yamauchi said.
The woman tried to get help from the airline’s staff, but they directed her to a customer service line that told her they would have to cancel the rest of her flight if they gave a refund.
So Yamauchi was forced to endure the entire flight with her son on her lap, and eventually standing up between her knees. As CNN pointed out, the FAA strongly advises against having children sit on a passenger’s lap, which can be very dangerous if the plane encounters turbulence.
United Airlines is still reeling from the bad press of an April incident in which a doctor was dragged off a flight to Louisville, leaving the man bloodied and screaming. Video of the incident went viral, garnering hundreds of millions of views and sparking a strong backlash against the company including boycotts.
Then, in a message to the airline’s employees, CEO Oscar Munoz seemed to justify the man’s treatment. In the memo (printed in part by The Hollywood Gossip), Munoz called the man “disruptive and belligerent.”
“While I deeply regret this situation arose, I also emphatically stand behind all of you, and I want to commend you for continuing to go above and beyond to ensure we fly right,” Munoz wrote, adding, “As you will read, this situation was unfortunately compounded when one of the passengers we politely asked to deplane refused and it become necessary to contact Chicago Aviation Security Officers to help.”
The incident this week drew even more anger over the end result of the 2-year-old boy being bumped and forced to sit on his mother’s lap. As CNN noted, Shirley Yamauchi had paid $969 for the ticket that ultimately her son was not able to use. The man who took the boy’s seat paid just $75, the report noted.
[Featured Image by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]