United takes 2-year-old’s seat away, forcing him onto mother’s lap for three hour flight

BOSTON, MA (NBC News) — United Airlines is apologizing for giving a 2-year-old boy’s seat away to a standby passenger.

Pictures show the boy sitting in his mother’s lap on a United flight from Houston to Boston last week.

The mother was forced to hold her son for the three-and-a-half hour flight.

Shirley Yamauchi says she bought a ticket for her 2-year-old son months ago.

United’s website says once infants turn 2-years-old they are required to have a purchased ticket and occupy a seat.

But Yamauchi says a standby passenger came on board and told her that her son was in his seat.

When she complained to a flight attendant, she says the woman shrugged and said the flight was full.

United says gate agents inaccurately scanned the boy’s boarding pass showing he was “not” on the flight, so staff released his seat to another passenger.

“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,” said Yamauchi.

United has released a statement saying “We deeply apologize to Ms. Yamauchi and her son for this experience. We are refunding her son’s ticket and providing a travel voucher. We are also working with our gate staff to prevent this from happening again.”

Yamauchi says the incident makes her nervous about flying united again.

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