United Airlines Faces Allegations of Mistreatment in Houston, Again

United Airlines hasn’t had an easy time lately — especially in Houston.

Shirley Yamauchi was traveling from Hawaii to Boston with her young son when she stopped in Bush Intercontinental Airport for a layover on June 29. When she got on her United Airlines flight to Boston, airline employees allegedly gave her two-year-old son’s seat to another passenger and made Yamauchi hold him for the duration of the flight — apparently violating airline rules.

Yamauchi is at least the third person in just a month to claim she was mistreated aboard a United Airlines flight in the Houston area.

In June, a disabled woman sued the airline after she was allegedly dropped and injured while aboard a plane at Bush Intercontinental Airport. Just days later, a professional violinist, who missed a violin rehearsal and suffered “possible damage” to her hand after she was bumped from a United Airlines flight in Houston, also lawyered up.

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The company has struggled to repair its image since an infamous incident in April, in which David Dao, a Kentucky doctor, was forcibly removed from a United Airlines flight in Chicago. A video of the incident, showing a bloodied Dao being dragged through an airplane aisle, went viral on social media.

Yamauchi told the Houston Chronicle that she’d paid $969 for her son’s ticket but that he was nonetheless bumped by another passenger. Photos she shared with the Chronicle show her son stuffed awkwardly — and definitely not securely — on top of her in an airline seat.

Federal Aviation Administration guidelines say parents “aren’t capable of holding a child securely” and recommend children travel in their own restrained child seats.

This seems like Child Safety 101. But in a statement, United Airlines said the safety mistake resulted when employees “inaccurately scanned the boarding pass of Ms. Yamauchi's son.”

“We deeply apologize to Ms. Yamauchi and her son for this experience,” the news release said. “We are providing compensation as a goodwill gesture.”


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