United Airlines apologises after giving away toddler's seat to standby passenger

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After waiting at Houston airport for five hours, they finally boarded their flight and sat in their seats. Pictured right, the woman's 17 month old son, Taizo.Social media post via Shirley Mina Yamauchi highlighting the United Airlines drama. The man who took the boy's seat paid just $75, the report noted.

Suddenly, Taizo's fun was cut short. And promptly took it.

Hawaii News Now reports (http://bit.ly/2uKx42O ) that Shirley Yamauchi says she paid nearly $1,000 each for two tickets because children over the age of 2 are required to have their own seat.

United Airlines is still recovering from a rash of bad press after video surfaced of a passenger being violently removed from one of its flights in April to accommodate airline employees who needed transportation.

"I told the flight attendant about our situation, but she shrugged and told me the flight was full", she told the Chronicle.

"I had to move my son onto my lap", Shirley told Hawaii News Now.

Yamauchi, who is 5-foot-2, told NBC News that her son is half her height and weighs 25 pounds. "I didn't feel safe or comfortable, but I really didn't have a choice". My left arm was smashed up against the wall. "I lost feeling in my legs and left arm", Yamauchi told Hawaii News Now.

Yamauchi said she bought two tickets because children 2 or older must have their own seat.

In the end, Taizo spent most of the flight on his feet.

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When asked why she didn't push the issue with flight staff, Yamauchi said she was afraid of retaliation due to previous incidents on United flights that resulted in violence. She then spent the entire 3.5-hour flight with her son on her lap.

"I'm scared", she recounted to KITV.

That was against the safety advice of the Federal Aviation Administration, which strongly urges a separate seat for children; but Yamauchi said she had no better options. As CNN noted, Shirley Yamauchi had paid $969 for the ticket that ultimately her son was not able to use.

When she didn't receive help from staff aboard Flight 2047, Yamauchi searched for help.

"On a recent flight from Houston to Boston, we inaccurately scanned the boarding pass of Ms. Yamauchi's son", United representatives said in a news release. "We are also working with our employees to prevent this from ever happening again".

United Airlines apologized for the incident, saying gate agents had incorrectly scanned Yamauchi's boarding pass, making it look like no one in that seat had checked in. It seems like a fairly simple process.

The incident is the latest in a series of snafus questioning the airline's industry's commitment to customer service and what many argue putting dollar signs before passenger needs.

But as they were getting seated and ready to fly, a man approached Yamauchi and told her he had the same seat number as her son. We did the two hour check-in time before boarding. The reason? United Airlines had given away his ticket to a standby passenger.

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