Shirley Yamauchi paid $1,000 for her 27 month old son's United flight from Houston to Boston, in part because the kid is half her size and in part because it's illegal to fly with kids on your lap once they turn two.
But United gave her son's seat away to a standby passenger — allegedly because the gate agent incorrectly scanned the kid's boarding pass and he was thus registered as a no-show — and when the guy showed up to sit in the kid's seat, the flight attendant shrugged and told them that the flight was full.
The woman spent three hours with her 25-pound toddler on her lap, afraid to complain because of all the recent incidents in which United crew and security beat, brutalized, and even hospitalized passengers who got in the way of overbooked flights.
United has apologized.
"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.
Yamauchi said she wanted to speak up, but was afraid of retaliation.
"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.
United Airlines apologizes after giving away toddler's seat
[Ashley Nagaoka/Hawaii News Now]
United Gives Away Toddler's Paid Seat, Forces Mom To Hold Son On Lap For 3 Hours [Mary Beth Quirk/Consumerist]
(Image: Shirley Yamauchi)