Just a few months after settling with David Dao, the passenger who was violently dragged off a flight in April, United Airlines has unsurprisingly managed to mess up again — albeit nonviolently, at least.
After purchasing a ticket for her 27-month old son from Hawaii to Boston, Shirley Yamauchi was stunned to discover that United had sold her son’s ticket to a standby passenger not long after they boarded.
Yamauchi told local new station KITV that she bought her and her son roundtrip tickets between Boston and Hawaii; with connections, their flight was about 18-hours. Shortly after they had their tickets scanned and boarded the leg between Houston and Boston, a man boarded whose ticketed seat number was the same as her son’s.
Remembering Dao’s bloodied face (who could forget?), Yamauchi didn’t want to “cause a scene.” Neither did the crew, apparently, since Yamauchi sought assistance but was swiftly rebuffed. “I was confused. I told him, I bought both of these seats,” Yamauchi told KITV. “The flight attendant came by, shrugs and says ‘flight’s full.’”
Literally fearing that she might get hurt if she protested, Yamauchi traveled with her son on her lap despite paying for a ticket and in contradiction to FAA guidelines that advise against flying with toddlers on laps. She paid $969 for her son’s ticket.
When she arrived at the connecting airport, Yamauchi was informed by a United hotline employee that if she wanted a refund, United would have to cancel her return ticket to Hawaii.
United’s spokesperson issued a statement in response to Yamauchi’s travel nightmare:
“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.”
How many apologies does United have to issue before actually committing to prioritizing customers? Or even simply prioritizing services people have paid for? As with many flying dilemmas, it seems like United’s employees aren’t even clear on what those services are.
“It’s worrisome. Everyone who has helped me so far has contradicted each other,” Yamauchi concluded. “United has made errors that make national headlines. yet, it continues.”
We may never see the end of it.