A passenger on a United Airlines flight last week says she was forced to hold her son in her lap after a standby passenger took the seat that was reserved for him.
Shirley Yamauchi told NBC News that on a flight from Houston to Boston, a standby passenger took her son’s seat and cabin crew did nothing to help.
After they boarded their flight, Yamauchi says a flight attendant came by to ensure that the 27-month-old passenger was in his seat. But right before takeoff, a standby passenger came on and told Yamauchi that her son was in his seat.
They informed a flight attendant about the mix-up, but Yamauchi told NBC News that “she shrugged and said the flight is full.” She then spent the entire 3.5-hour flight with her son on her lap.
Yamauchi said she informed four gate agents about the conditions on her flight after landing, but each one told her something different.
According to United guidelines, “once infants turn two years old, they are required to have a purchased ticket and occupy a seat.” Yamauchi said she paid $1,000 each for her and her son’s travel, while the man who boarded standby paid $75 for his ticket.
“On a recent flight from Houston to Boston, we inaccurately scanned the boarding pass of Ms. Yamauchi’s son,” a United spokesperson said in a statement. “As a result, her son’s seat appeared to be not checked in, and staff released his seat to another customer and Ms. Yamauchi held her son for the flight. We deeply apologize to Ms. Yamauchi and her son for this experience.”
After reaching out to customer service, Yamauchi received an email from United CEO Oscar Munoz, saying the airline would do better in the future. United said that it will refund the cost of Yamauchi’s son’s ticket and issue her a travel voucher.