Traveling with a child is hard enough. But for a mother in Hawaii, United Airlines made the experience much, much worse. After she had packed all her toddler’s belongings and gotten the little one through security – without a hissy fit – she found out that United Airlines had sold her toddler’s seat to a standby passenger. This meant that Shirley Yamauchi was forced to hold her two-year-old son on her lap for the duration of the flight, which proved to be torturous for everyone on board.
Not only did Yamauchi pay for the seat for her baby boy, but she also wanted him to have the security and safety. Because she was planning to use the car seat and latch it in safely with the seatbelt, Yamauchi was happy to shell out the extra money for the boy’s seat. But when United realized they could get more money from the standby passenger, they booted the toddler and forced him onto mom’s lap.
Now Yamauchi is angry and is ready to fight. She’s suing United Airlines to make sure that they learn their lesson and don’t treat other parents with such disrespect.
“United said they would change, and I want to see that happen. I don’t want any more passengers possibly in danger.”
There’s a reason that using the car seat is considered much safer. Not only does lap sitting mean the baby could fall, but it also means the baby is not adequately secured in case of a sudden movement or turbulence.
Yamauchi hired attorney Michael Green to fight on her behalf. He said he is more than ready to take United Airlines down for their infraction.
“United deserves everything we can do to them,” Green said. “We’ll let the people decide what to do to people that are this greedy and put lives potentially in danger.”
Yamauchi has a lot of experience with children. Besides being a mother, she’s a beloved teacher at Kapolei Middle School. Because United gave away her son’s seat, she was forced to sit with Taizo, her son, for three-and-a-half hours on their flight from Houston to Boston.
Yamauchi mentioned the problem to her flight attendant but was ignored. For five days after the incident, United Airlines ignored her. They hoped her complaint would just go away. But because she was persistent, they eventually responded – five days later blaming the agents for inaccurately scanning Taizo’s boarding pass.
“It could’ve been resolved at that point, yet not a single flight attendant asked why he was on my lap the whole duration of the flight,” she said.
When she was ready to fly home to Hawaii from Boston, United Airlines tried to bribe her out of further complaints. They gave her an upgrade and perks, but she saw right through their disingenuous ploy.
“There was a representative waiting for us. We were escorted to their United lounge, but we explained we don’t have a membership with them, yet they asked us to utilize their lounge. The three of us were moved to business class after getting our tickets. He offered to carry my bag for me down to baggage claim. We both received a lei. A flower lei.”
United also refunded the purchase price of the tickets for Yamauchi and her son.
Do you think United needs to do more?
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