HOUSTON (CBSNewYork) — United Airlines has found itself at the center of another negative public relations nightmare.
Last week, the airline gave away a 3-year-old’s nearly $1,000 seat without warning. The child was forced to sit on his mother’s lap for the entirety of their three-hour flight from Houston to Boston after a five-hour layover in Houston from Hawaii.
Shirley Yamauchi and her son boarded the connecting flight in Houston and took their seats. Then, a standby customer came to their row with a ticket for the same seat as Yamauchi’s son, Taizo.
“The tickets were scanned without any incident,” Yamauchi said. “I didn’t see any difficulty or anything strange.”
When Yamauchi alerted the flight attendant of the mishap, she found little remorse.
“The flight attendant, when I let her know that these were my seats, she came back and told me that the flight is full, and she shrugged, and that was the end of it,” Yamauchi said.
The infamous video of a passenger being dragged of a United flight was in Yamauchi’s mind, so she didn’t put up much of a fight.
“I didn’t want [Taizo] hurt especially,” Yamauchi said. “I, of course, feared my personal safety with everything I’ve seen with United Airlines. I didn’t want to see anybody get hurt.”
United released a statement on the matter:
“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.”
The airline said it compensated Yamauchi for the incident.
“We deeply apologize to Ms. Yamauchi and her son for this experience,” the statement read. “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.”
Airlines require children over the age of two to be in their own seats, and not in an adult’s lap.