Oops They Did It Again! United Takes Away Seat Of Revenue Passenger (2 Year Old Child) For A Standby Passenger


United just can’t seem to come to their senses judging by yet another seating incident involving a standby passenger who occupied a paid revenue seat that was purchased for a 2 year old toddler.

The mother traveling with her child had to carry the toddler on her lap during the entire flight from Houston to Boston.

In this incident the passenger appears to be a regular customer standing by for an earlier flight and not an employee, yet the incident was mismanaged by nearly everyone involved.

You can read more about it on NBC News (access here).

A Hawaii teacher says she was forced to hold her toddler son in her lap for a three-and-a-half hour flight because of a mix-up in United Airlines’ system.

“It was unsafe, uncomfortable and unfair,” Shirley Yamauchi told NBC News. “I couldn’t believe it was happening to me.”

Yamauchi said the seat she purchased for her 27-month old son was given to a standby passenger. Yamauchi said she purchased two tickets — almost $1,000 each — for a trip from Hawaii to Boston with a layover in Houston. …

The Kapolei Middle School teacher said a man who was a standby passenger approached her and said her son was in his seat. She said she notified a flight attendant about the confusion but, “She shrugged and said the flight is full.”

Yamauchi, 42, said she hastily had to place her son, who is 25 pounds and half her 5’2” frame, on her lap. She said the standby passenger was one of the last people to board the plane. The flight quickly departed after he sat down and no other flight attendants questioned her about her son, she said. …

Yamauchi said she did not try to alert another flight attendant due to recent problems on United aircrafts, such as the April incident where a doctor was forcibly removed from his seat.

Complete rubbish from United Airlines side but also mismanaged by the passenger herself as she didn’t escalate the situation. She should have simply told the flight attendant that she had purchased tickets for both passengers, show the boarding passes and let the standby passenger stand in the aisle.

What does United say about this?

When the flight landed, Yamauchi informed multiple United staff members about what happened. “I was told four different things from four agents,” she said. One told her that she should have said something when she was on board.

United contacted Yamauchi Tuesday and told her that her son’s ticket will be refunded and she will be sent a travel voucher.

United Airlines spokesman Jonathan Guerin said in a statement, “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 staff 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.”

The 2 year old as a passenger in his own right was refused his purchased seat and this is clearly a matter of involuntary denied boarding for which there is a cash compensation due, not a travel voucher.


Yes United refunded the ticket of the child (hopefully the entire ticket, not just a portion of it) but the fact that United Airlines shoves this off to some ground staff error is yet another situation where the airline fails to address the cause of the issue properly.

The issue here wasn’t just that the ground staff maybe (because there is no proof that this is what actually happened) didn’t scan one of the boarding passes and reassigned the seat to someone else. It’s obvious that a crew member simply didn’t care about resolving the matter and brushed it off without getting someone competent to deal with the situation.

Yet I still believe that the passenger should have caused a stink and not relented. Is this the situation now that passengers are intimidated by airlines to speak up?

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  • mishutkas

    Well, I guess knowing how united can handle passengers, woman might think it is better to make it to final destination at least, and not get stuck with police during stop over…

  • McCaron

    one new scandal every month with UA, one more reason to avoid UA

  • Flyboy

    She didn’t escalate the situation because she felt that as being asian, she didn’t want another ‘being dragged off the flight’ incident. She did notify the flight attendant who shrugged off the concern. So if she was to complain again, would she have been ‘ cause of concern’ to which the FA might come to her and said something like , “Look, I told you…..”. Not everyone wants to be the aggressive ugly passenger..

    • alwweb

      It has nothing to do with being Asian. Recently on a flight, the flight attendant said that the overhead compartment would not close with my bag in it and handed it to me. I knew that it did close because I had my bag in the same location on the same plane on the first half of my flight. Plus, I tested closing the compartment, and then re-opened it so others could load their bags. I simply took the bag and put it under my seat. When the gentleman sitting next to me started to tell the flight attendant that my bag did fit, I touched his arm and shook my head no and took the bag to place under the seat in front of me. I didn’t want him or me to get kicked off of the flight.
      The answer to Sebastian’s final question in his article is a definite “Yes. I am nervous about speaking up now with all of the recent problems, not just on United.”

    • Guess who?

      Think we’re all now “terrified” of challenging the all-powerful so and so’s on the airlines, and in the white house… (becuz he’s Prez, and we’re not…. especially if we happen to be a member of the press, or worse yet, an academic who reads books or who still uses paper.) That said, that an asian would be doubly worried, given recent events, even more plausible.

  • Siwusa

    Interesting story. Especially that United says the toddler was not checked in? How can that happen? Did maybe everybody think that guy was still a lap-child and did not need a boarding pass? Not sure if this is the full story. As always…

    • Dogmatick

      Full story or not, if child not checked in then how’s he on board ? Surely that is a massive security error.
      Also two year olds aren’t allowed to be lap infants, the limit is second birthday so that’s another safety/security breach.

      As a brown Muslim, if I have to fly US airlines I too sit there waiting to be abused and take it on the chin. I wouldn’t risk ever saying anything for fear of my itinerary being destroyed by yet another racist employee feeling he/she has a god given right to abuse fare paying customers.

      It along with so much more is the reason I utterly avoid travelling to the US anymore whereas previously I’d do 20+ business trips there a year

  • Danny

    I’m not a United fan at all. The mother could have handed the two boarding passes to the FA and not even having to say a word. The whole matter would have been a non-issue as the FA would have contacted the gate agent and corrected the matter. For sure the child’s boarding pass wasn’t scan properly upon entry.

  • axxan3

    United need to fire the employee that made the mistake and flight attendant that Shirley Yamauchi
    talk to about her child seat. It is time that it should be illegal to re sale seat with out the person that bought the seat agree to the sale. The money should go to who ever was the 1st buyer of the seat.
    The air line should be fined. If this became the rule of thumb it would end the air line double booking.

    • Len Gattsche

      Good write up.

  • Corbett Kroehler

    I concur with all of the comments. One other point: as this was blatantly illegal and unsafe on the part of the airline, she should submit a formal complaint with the FAA and USDOT Inspector General.

    On the bright side, at least there was no fuel leak in this case, which could have killed everyone. Because of this string of myopic insensitivity, I have instituted a personal boycott of United. Even if I were given free airfare for the rest of my life, I cherish my beating heart far too much to take the bait. UA is run like a third-world airline. This is a good time to remind ourselves of the brilliant Kimmel video after the police broke a passenger’s ribs:


    and, of course:


  • BenniHK

    Her surname looks like a Japanese. As you know Japs are so used to be keeping quiet for everything even when they were bullied, so maybe thats why.

    • as

      A lot of people in Hawai’i have Japanese surnames……racist moron

  • HiIslands

    As a 1K, million mile+ UA customer with an Asian spouse, this story really concerns me. I am beginning to wonder if UA staff target Asian customers because they are “easier” to deal with. I responded to a page in a UA departure gate requesting Chinese language assistance. When I offered help, the gate agent told me they needed to move some passenger’s seat assignments to keep them away from a prisoner that was being transported on the flight. The passengers were resisting. When I paged the passengers by name to the podium in Chinese, they told me, “This airline does not respect us.” When I explained the reason for the moves they readily agreed to move, but their perception of UA possibly disrespecting them might still persist. There was no language barrier with the Yamauchi case. But I have to wonder if UA staff subconsciously label Asian customers as “easy”.

  • Richard

    I flew United business class ORD-MCI last weekend after a 10 day, 5 ticket, 6 airline, 10 hop itinerary. United was by far the least desirable of the flights. The actual flight was the worst flight. The United staff passed out drinks and went forward to sit and chat loudly for the majority of the flight. The most interaction between the staff and the passengers was the staff redirecting passengers back to the seats during attempts to use the toilets.

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