CBS screenshot
CBS screenshot

It seems as if the airline-drama saga is not over yet. This time a Hawaii mom is furious after a United Airlines mix-up forced her to hold her 2-year-old son on her lap for a three-hour flight, despite having bought him his required ticket for almost $1,000.


According to Shirley Yamauchi, the incident unfolded last week after United reportedly sold her son’s seat to a standby passenger the two were on the last leg of their 18-hour trip from Honolulu to Boston, where Yamauchi, a teacher, was going to attend an education conference.

“He and I, we had both our tickets scanned, we both went on board no problem,” Yamauchi told KITV. 


Then a man who was flying standby approached Yamauchi to show that her son was sitting in his seat, 24A, the seat that Yamauchi had reserved for the 2-year-old.

“It was very shocking. I was confused. I told him, I bought both of these seats. The flight attendant came by, shrugs and says, ‘Flight’s full,’” Yamauchi said.

Yamauchi declined to kick up a fuss, apparently recalling all too well how the situation with Dr. David Dao ended up, with him bring violently dragged off his flight, bleeding.

“I’m scared. I’m worried. I’m traveling with an infant. I didn’t want to get hurt. I didn’t want either of us to get hurt,” she said.


“I started remembering all those incidents with United on the news,” the mother said to Hawaii News Now. “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.”

And so Yamauchi resorted to sit with her son in her lap for three-and-a-half hours. Her son ended up sleeping in contorted positions, even at one point standing between her knees, which doesn’t seem very safe.


KITV notes that Federal Aviation Administration guidelines strongly advise against having children sit in someone’s lap, saying that “your arms aren’t capable of holding your child securely, especially during unexpected turbulence.”

“What happened to my son was unsafe, uncomfortable and unfair,” Yamauchi said.

“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 told Hawaii News Now.


United has sent out a statement, saying, “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.”

Yamauchi, however, is not impressed with the response she has gotten.

“I saw them zap both tickets. There was no issue, no problem. They let us through. It just doesn’t add up. It’s very weird,” she said, according to USA Today.


Of the offered compensation, she added, “It doesn’t seem right or enough for pain and discomfort.”

News Editor at The Root, animation nerd, soca junkie, yogi

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