United Airlines has apologized once again after a distraught mom says the airline gave up her toddler's seat on a recent flight, forcing her to endure the three-and-a-half-hour trip with the child on her lap.
Shirley Yamauchi bought two tickets in March on United Airlines — one seat for her, and the other for her son, Taizo — when they flew from Hawaii to Boston last week.
The mother and son had a stopover in Houston, Texas, when a United flight attendant informed the passenger 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."
She said her son weighs about 25 pounds and is up to her waist. The positioning made sleeping and changing his diaper incredibly difficult.
Yamauchi, a seventh grade teacher who was on her way to a conference, says she was too scared to make a fuss because she remembered the now-infamous video earlier this year when Dr. David Dao was beaten up on a United flight when he refused to give up his seat.
She said that she was nervous to speak up.
“Being Asian-American, I was worried and scared for my safety," Yamauchi said. "I saw the footage of Dr. Dao. I realized that he had his teeth knocked out... My family in Japan saw the footage.
"On a recent flight from Houston to Boston, we inaccurately scanned the boarding pass of Ms. Yamauchi's son," United said in a statement. "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."
Yamauchi, however, was not satisfied.
"I am very disappointed," she said. "I am seeing a pattern of bullying of passengers."
She and her son are flying back home Thursday. She says they each have their own seat.