Shirley Yamauchi said she lost feeling in her legs and left arm during the three hour-plus flight

By Aric Jenkins
July 5, 2017

United Airlines has issued an apology to a passenger who was forced to give up her 2-year-old son’s seat and hold him for more than three hours during the flight.

Shirley Yamauchi, a middle school teacher from Hawaii, told Hawaii News Now that she had purchased the tickets to a conference in Boston three months ago and had to pay for her son Taizo’s seat — valued at nearly $1,000 — because children over the age of two are required to have their own seat.

After a layover in Houston, Yamauchi and Tazio were seated and bound for Boston when a man with the same seat number as her son walked up.

“I told him that I bought both of these tickets and he tells me that he got the ticket on standby. Then he proceeds to sit in the center,” she told Hawaii News Now.

Yamauchi informed a flight attendant about the issue but she merely shrugged off the complaint, saying the flight was full before walking away, Yamauchi said.

“I had to move my son onto my lap,”Yamauchi said. “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.”

Yamauchi said that she wanted to speak up, but decided against it after recalling previous incidents such as aviation security’s violent confrontation with David Dao on a United flight back in April.

“I started remembering all those incidents with United on the news,” she explained. “The violence. Teeth getting knocked out. I’m Asian. I’m scared and I felt uncomfortable. I didn’t want those things to happen to me.”

A United spokesperson said that Taizo’s boarding pass was not scanned correctly, thus failing to add him to the system and releasing the seat to a standby passenger.

“We deeply apologize to Ms. Yamauchi and her son for this experience,” United said in a statement to Hawaii News Now. “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.”

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