An Asian-origin teacher has decided to sue United Airlines as she was forced to hold her two- year-old son on her lap after the airlines gave away the toddler’s seat to a standby passenger, according to media reports.
Shirley Yamauchi, who is working in a Middle School of Hawaii, on Tuesday hoped her lawsuit would help protect other passengers from this type of treatment.
"United said they would change and I want to see that happen. I don't want anymore passengers possibly in danger," Shirley said.
According to Shirley, it was an over three-hour flight and she had to hold her two-year-old son on her lap. This happened during the final leg of an 18-hour flight from Hawaii to Boston.
When they boarded the flight after five hours layover in Houston on June 29, another passenger showed up, claiming the seat of the toddler as his.
Yamauchi complained to a flight attendant that she bought the seat three months ago, but the latter only shrugged and said the flight was full, then walked away.
She says she didn’t speak out a second time because she was afraid of retaliation from the airline after hearing about an April incident that left passenger Dr. David Dao bloodied and injured as he was dragged off a flight.
On her return trip back to Hawaii from a conference in Boston, she said the airline gave her free upgrades and perks, but she felt the gestures were not genuine.
"There was a representative waiting for us. We were escorted to their United lounge, but we explained we don’t have a membership with them, yet they asked us to utilise their lounge. The three of us were moved to business class after getting our tickets. He offered to carry my bag for me down to baggage claim. We both received a lei. A flower lei,” she said.
When asked for comment about the potential lawsuit, United said, "We reached out to Ms Yamauchi to apologise to her and her son, and we also refunded their tickets.”
United Airlines has been in hot water several times in recent months. In April, the airline came under fire after a doctor was violently dragged off a flight to make room for airline employees.