A mother was furious last week when United Airlines gave away her son’s seat to a standby passenger.
Shirley Yamauchi tells Inside Edition, she bought two tickets in March on United Airlines- one seat for her and the other for her son, Taizo, to fly from Hawaii to Boston. But, when Yamauchi went to board the second plane, (she had a stopover in Houston, Texas) a United Airlines flight attendant informed her that her son’s seat was being given away to a standby passenger and he’d have to sit in her lap for the entire three-and-a-half hour flight from Houston to Boston.
“I was surprised, shocked, worried and scared,” the distraught mom told Inside Edition. “She said the flight is full and then she walked away and a man hastily sat next to me. I moved my child’s legs and got them out of his way and before you knew it, we were taking off. It happened very quickly.”
Yamauchi’s son weighs about 25 pounds and being that she is only 5’2, it was very uncomfortable to sit with her son on her lap for the entire flight. She was unable to change his diaper and she says she was scared to make a fuss over it because she remembered what happened to Dr. David Dao earlier this year when he was beaten up on a United Airlines flight for refusing to give up his seat.
Yamauchi is a seventh-grade teacher who was on her way to a conference, and “being Asian-American, I was worried and scared for my safety.” “I saw the footage of Dr. Dao. I realized that he had his teeth knocked out… My family in Japan saw the footage,” she said.
United Airlines issued a statement on this matter saying, “On a recent flight from Houston to Boston, we inaccurately scanned the boarding pass of Ms. Yamauchi’s son. As a result, her son’s seat appeared to be not checked in, and we 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. We are refunding their tickets and providing compensation as a goodwill gesture. We are also working with our employees to prevent this from happening again.”
Despite their apologies, Yamauchi was not satisfied saying, “I am very disappointed. I am seeing a pattern of bullying of passengers.”