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United Airlines Gives 2-Year-Old's Seat Away to Standby Passenger

United Airlines requires children over the age of 2 to have their own tickets and occupy their own seats, but that didn’t stop the airline from allowing a 27-month-old child from sitting in his mother’s lap after they accidentally oversold his spot. ( More...

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ToddBaldwin3 22
"...explaining that Taizo’s ticket was incorrectly scanned at the gate." How do you incorrectly scan a ticket?
monalisa75 10
Big BS if I may say. Incorrectly scanned, yeah right. Tell me how they didn't get the alert or aware or even suspicious to noticed, a mother and a minor travelling together (HIGH chance they're under 1 confirmation#), mom showed up and the kid's not? What???? Investigation needs to be done (and maybe to check who's this standby pax, was he related to the agent, etc).
Ruger9X19 2
The tickets were probably stacked and only the top was scanned, I've seen that happen before.
Gene Poon 5
NOT an excuse. Couldn't the gate agent see that there were TWO people? A two-year old toddler generally does not look like a lap infant.

[This comment has been downvoted. Show anyway.]

David Barnes -3
My guess: computer glitch due to the boarding pass being creased/wrinkled/stained coupled with the gate agent not noticing the different "error' beep when it didn't read correctly.
an agent or f/a running the bp scanner would,(especially with a child in a stroller as this little person was per the video on the news),ask the mother for the childs age and a second boarding pass because of the childs size,and also because a stroller has to be checked at the gate anyway..they do not fit in the overhead and on a full flight they are not accepted to hang in the front coat closet either..this had nothing to do with a wrinkled or stained bp as the story says the child was not even checked in.. as a paid passenger the mother would have been immediately directed to the agent at the gate desk to fix the problem, before standby passengers were called..(the mother had already boarded when the standby came on to take the seat...)definitely and error but it was not the bp reader,it was the agent or f/a running it who should have taken care of the problem immediately...
David Barnes 4
Mary: Thanks for your comments.

I strongly believe both mother and child were checked in. I come to this conclusion for two reasons. First, they both boarded their HNL-IAH flight, which would have required check-in. Second, the mother has stated in interviews that the gate agent "zapped" (to use her term) two boarding passes. In order to have two boarding passes, two must have been checked in.

(See her comments in

I personally have had a boarding pass that the bar-code reader rejected (the reader gives a different tone), but if the agent is distracted or not paying attention, they may not have stopped the mother when her son's boarding pass was mis-read by the computer.

Additionally, because they traveled HNL-IAH first, there would have been a gate check tag already issued for the stroller for that flight. The agent could have seen that and not had to affix a new one.

The computer would then, later, when clearing standbys, have reported the child's boarding pass as not having been boarded (semantics between that and checked-in, perhaps not captured reliably by the news media) allowing it to be freed for the standby passenger.
Victor Engel 14
On a positive note, United is providing yet more fodder for my comedian friends.
Ruger9X19 13
Whelp, United screwed the pooch on this one. On most of the other incidents I gave them the benefit of the doubt. They own this screw up, I hope there are some fines levied over this, risking the passengers safety is unacceptable.
paul trubits 13
If United wants to be considered a well run airline, they will have to get rid of their many weak links.
matt jensen 14
Starting with their CEO
D Edwards 6
And all stewards/stewardesses that are not fairly intelligent.
Dee Lowry 1
Correction for you D. Edwards. Cabin crews have not been referred to as Stewaredessess or Stewards for some time. That in its self says, your are not a frequent flyer or you are just uneducated.
joncon25 0
My last flight on UAL's Polaris Business Class from Frankfurt to Dulles proves you are correct. They ran out of the fruit plate for breakfast, so I asked the steward for just a roll with my coffee. Yes, he brought me a dinner roll from the previous dinner. I'm surprised that I did not get a Danish with my dinner. Also, what "unintelligent designer" decided to reverse the seats in every other row, and design the lie flat beds so that the passenger next to you has to either climb over you or wake you to get out?
Dee Lowry 1
The aircraft is not "The Ritz". Can't get anthing you want. Passengers asked for "Low Fares"...Well you got it. Although due to the low fares...sevice and amenities are basically non existed. Be greatfull you got a roll. You can order a special meal, you know.
joncon25 1
Dee, if you read my first sentence,rather to jump to a conclusion that I wanted "low fares", it was Business Class! Further, I did not want a meal. United has a snack bar for Business Class, so why was I not offered an alternative. Customer Service is an oxymoron, especially on United. I have been flying commercial airlines for over 60 years and have watched it decline.
Dee Lowry 1
I totally understaand. Unfortunately, degregulation and mergers have basically destroyed the service of flight! Not to mention the demands of some passengers. It's horrible. And I'm glad I got out when I did! I watched it decline, as well.Not proud of it anymore. I was proud when I flew fron 1972- 2002. But saw it coming. Thanx for your feedback.
96flstc 18
How safe is it for a 27 month old child to be unrestrained on takeoff, during periods of turbulence and landings? Where are the FAA eunuchs? Evidently the culture of stupid is alive and well at UAL as common sense training hasn’t been fully deployed among its CSR's and
cabin crews.
Simple, tell the stand by sorry, and let the child have the seat that the mom purchased.
joel wiley 10
It's perfectly safe - as long a nothing happens, and that is the point.
UA erred, according to David Barnes violated 14 CFR, and beyond refunding the fare, FAA sanctions seem to be in order.
David Barnes 14
Considering Federal Law requires all children past their second birthday to have their own seat and occupy it during flight, this was not only unsafe but also illegal.

See 14 CFR 121.311:

No person may operate an airplane unless there are available during the takeoff, en route flight, and landing...An approved seat or berth for each person on board the airplane who has reached his second birthday...


a child may..Be held by an adult who is occupying an approved seat or berth, provided the child has not reached his or her second birthday and the child does not occupy or use any restraining device
John Hodge 3
Will the FAA do anything about this? And if so, what? Since it's been so well documented by passengers, the media, and confirmed by United the FAA would have no issue providing proof.
john..the faa has control over the safety issues and the mechanical issues of an aircraft and its operators and or far as control over how they handle the issuance of tickets and the boarding process,it is supposed to be standardized,and the safety issues of those boarding are the main concern of faa rules, which includes the age at which a child must have their own seat..these faa rules also designate who may sit in an exit row,and the handling of passengers with disabilities,oxygen,electic scooters and wheelchairs and the like,and also accommodation of service animals..usually the agent at the ticket counter, or the boarding agent,as a matter of company policy , will ask the age of a toddler in a stroller or what have you to verify if the child needs a seat or has a boarding pass..children over 2 do not fly free ,and the only thing the faa can do in this instance is fine united for allowing this 27 month old to be a "lap child"...
I think they can do more than fine the airline. They can take a certificate action against the Captain and F.O. for violation of the FAR. Executive Order 2150.3B gives the FAA detailed protocols, and for good measure when they are contemplating an enforcement action, they often throw in a violation of FAR 91.13, Careless and Reckless Operation, as they would argue that a violation of 121.311 endangered or potentially endangered the life of the child. The sanction is given in Table B (B1m(2) for the airline = Maximum civil penalty. Against the certificated crew (cabin and flight deck crew) B2d(1)Flight Ops/Pre-flight (e) failure to insure seat and belt available for each passenger: 30-60 day certificate suspension.
Thomas Reed 6
A 30-60 day certificate suspension would give United ample opportunity to conduct some much-needed serious employee training in not only situations that are not safe or legal.
I think that would be best, ple act quickly when they start losing money!!! Clean house of those stupid employees that can't get it right.
joel wiley 2
Something that has the effect of exceeding the cost of doing business
I know, it certainly wouldn't happen in today's corporate world...
Scott Boyd 0
Shut the airline down for 2 months? Are you kidding? Yes, there was a mistake made. If the mother would have notified a F/A they could have resolved it. Not saying anything about it until you get to your destination is ridiculous. It wasn't her fault but she should have given the airline a chance to correct it. They certainly would have. Waiting until they get to BOS and then letting them know a mistake was made in IAH is not the way to handle it. And don't say you were afraid someone would beat you up. No reasonable person would buy that.
David Barnes 1
From the article: "Yamuachi says she tried to inform a flight attendant about Taizo’s seat, but the woman claimed she couldn’t do anything about it, seeing as the flight was full."

She didn't wait until arrival in BOS and did, as you suggested, notify a flight attendant. It remained unresolved. They certainly did NOT correct it.
Pleewilk 2
The CA and FO are too busy with pre-flight ops. This is a Customer Service issue that should have been handled by the gate agent and/or Inflight Crew. The Flight Crew probably had no idea this was going on.
Gary Bain 6
Exactly. Having been an airline pilot I know that the cockpit crew do not get involved in boarding issues unless it is to have a person who is too drunk or belligerent to fly removed from the airplane. Usually done at the request of the lead FA. I only had to do that twice but that was in more "civilized" times. United needs to start a massive training program about customer service and, more importantly, training about how to think, reason and come to some kind of intelligent conclusion. Apparently there are a lot of non-thinking people at UAL the vast majority being the people at the gate including supervisory personnel. There is absolutely no excuse for this kind of thing.
William Kelly 2
It is a big problem with the gate staffing I think. Most of the time they do there job right but this one needs to be looked into real far and used as a training issue. The non-thinking people would be the supervisors and mid-management. Some heads should roll on this one. A flight attended really is at the end of this problem and should not be the one to fix the problem but should not over look it.
That's one huge sentence...
Well, it's part of United's new "Forced Reaccommodation Policy"
I saw that United stated the child was not checked in! I'm guessing this wasn't a flight from the island, so how does a child get a 2nd ticket without being checked in?
Dee Lowry 4
That situation is totally against FAA Rules. That child should have had a seat! After United 232, the Association of Flight Attendants fought and won to have children over 2yrs old be placed in a seat and buckled up! Too many children died that day because there wasn't an FAA rule to have them secured in a seat. Doesn't take much for a child or a full grown adult to fly thru the cabin. If a passenger releases their seatbelt prior to blocking at the gate...getting up to grab their luggage...and if the Cockpit Crew has to tap the are not only endangering yourself but your fellow passangers. Doesn't take much.Not to mention...when the Crew says to shut down all computers, phones, name it. That device will fly out of your hand in a Seattle second and possibly kill or wound a passenger or Crew Member. Common Sense people. Retired 30yr Flight Crew Member.
Lately there are some strange news involving United Airlines... Sad, because United is (was) a good company.
to begin with, a child over 2 years of age is required to have a seat.they are not a lap child or infant..even if this 27 month old was small as some are,it is the gate agent or flight attendants responsiblity as the person working the boarding pass scanner, to verify or ask the parent because a "lap child" or an older child cannot be seated in certain areas of the aircraft..this is totally united airlines fault, and its a shame the woman did not speak up sooner so the agent working the flight at the desk could verify a paid for seat and a boarding pass that had been issued..what the heck is wrong with that company!!!??I worked for a major carrier (not united) for a lot of years,and I never heard of or saw issues like these with united arising..continental had a decent reputation before united(who did not)took them over..that is the sad part of mergers..
Highflyer1950 7
Evidently, the kid had to have a boarding pass, scanned or not. If it was mis-scanned then present the boarding pass to the f/a and say fix it because I am not leaving my 27 month old kid behind here in Houston when I paid for him to get to Boston.....period.
pilotjag 7
Agreed 100%. I understand why she didn't say anything because after what happened to the doctor that got dragged off, she was afraid that she might have a similar fate if she instigated something
AWAAlum 3
Not knowing exactly how the "scan" process works, I don't understand how the airline could scan a boarding pass, and then turn around and say that pax didn't show. The mere fact there's a boarding pass scanned indicates there's a pax boarding. Doesn't it?
David Barnes 3
This is true, but computers aren't perfect. I've had the barcode fail to read and the agent have to scan again. An inattentive or distracted agent might not notice the different "error" tone. Just like your groceries don't always scan 100% of the time, so too with the barcodes at the gate.

I've also been on many flights where the agents come down and get on the PA and ask "Is Mr. George Washington on the plane? If so, please ring your call button." If they get the ding, they know they had a missed boarding pass and/or computer error. No ding, no person.

But the takeaway is that the agent should have verified if the seat was REALLY empty before reassigning the seat to the standby.
Dee Lowry 3
In this protocal...whould to advise the Caption and tell him/her that we have a situation on board...and I would go out to the gate a ratify the situation. It's against FAA regulations and it has to corrected. End of story. The 27 month old+ had a seat
The blame goes to the gate agents and hate to say it bit the Cabin Crew faild, as well. The 27mo old legally should have had the seat.
William Kelly 3
What person would take a seat and not ask a question why the mother had to hold her child? Did the child not have his boarding pass showing the seat assignment? Couldn't the flight attendant check the manifest and see that a child and not an infant was or was not on the flight? Why was a gate supervisor not called to check into this mistake before taking off? I think this is a big error and United needs to train their staff about service and the fact you had a flight leave the ground without the correct head count. I would think the FAA and TSA would want to review this incident.
Dee Lowry 1
It's the FAA
TSA has nothing to do with it.
The failure is the Gate Agents...from the get go.yes The manifest should have shown that the seat was occupied. Obivious it was overlooked.
Wingrat 3
This incident among all the others indicatesUnited simply doesn't give a damn about their passengers. Whoever is responsible doesn't need their job any more. The customer was so intimated she was afraid to speak out because of United 's reputation as tyrant Airlines Number One.That CEO needs to go. There is NO excuse for this to happen. Personally I will never fly on United. The best,thing that idiot airline could dd would be to give the woman the son and family and unlimited, unconditional unrestricted,lifetime flying pass good for any flight ,anywhere,anytime no questions asked
Dee Lowry 2
Phil- I totally understand what you are saying. It's not about's about safety.
And it should have never happened. See, I'm "Old School" when UNITED was the #1 Airline.
In my humble opinion...merging with Continental was the demise of the Airline I was very proud of.
Thomas Clark 5
This is a story about a airline and it's employee's that don't give a $hit!!!
Wingrat 0
United just keeps the hits rolling! Vote with your wallet and avoid United! It's obvious they don't give a damn about the normal flyer...the Coach seat why should we care about them??
patrick baker 5
this is a predictable outcome of a culture of "i don't care to give service to another human being". The culture comes from the top of the company, and platitudes from the boss are inadequate. No empathy, no consideration, no "if I were in their shoes", robotic and unkind robotic at that.
John Fahey 2
I think I am really glad that I don't have to have any contact with United Airlines. Would much rather spend my travel dollars with Alaska Airlines, Jet Blue, Southwest, or Amtrak.
She should do all she can to get everything from United that she is owed and deserved to get. Once that is over never fly United again. Personally I think she deserves major discounts or free travel for life from United.
Gene Poon 2
What's next?

NOW what will Oscar Munoz say?

"This place is all screwed up...I quit?"?

It certainly seems to be out of control.
Sidney Smith 4
How is Munoz keeping his job through this? The hits just keep on coming. Must have a titanium employment contract. I bet he wishes he was back at CSX.
James Simms 1
Morale @ CSX (Crash, Smash, Xplode) is in the crappers since Hunter Harrison took over & started slashing jobs left & right; closing Facilities, & moving folks who just moved w/in the last year or so. Depose Harrison & he may be welcomed back w/open arms
And, in a strange move ... the new CEO of Amtrak was just announced about two weeks ago. Yup ... Richard Anderson, previously Chairman and CEO of Delta! Revolving doors for the rick white guys much?
Sherman Pyle 2
I know one thing, United has just went to the top of my s*** list, never buy a ticket from United.
John Miller 2
My solution was to stop flying United!
joel wiley 2
Question: If there had not been several UA knock-down drug-out incidents that went viral, would this be newsworthy in and of itself?
Ruger9X19 12
Yes, they willfully violated safety and security regulations to sell an extra seat. I believe that level of negligence is newsworthy.

That said the previous incidents can't be completely discounted either in this, as they were attributed by the passenger being as a reason she was intimidated thus preventing the issue from being resolved before departure. When your passengers aren't willing to bring up safety issues for fear of retribution you know you have a major PR and customer relation issue.
monalisa75 5
The mom was seriously afraid and believed she would be targeted (racially on top of that) just as the Viet Doc vs may said pish posh on it,,,but remember she's travelling with a toddler. Any type of confrontation is to be avoided for the better. I understand and sided with her, her fear was legit. And that's why more investigation needs to be done, on WHY and HOW the gate agt allowed this to happen, was there any form of collaboration, etc. I think she's indeed picked on due to her child was small, n that's how the pax got the child's assigned seat, instead of other people's.
It goes to a pattern of behaviour on the part of the airline. That's when something becomes newsworthy (meaning it gets splashed all over the front pages). But it's still a basic, and critical, failure to follow the basic rules and should be adjudicated at that level regardless of newsworthiness.
Milt Reel 1
Perhaps this is the result of the latest merger.
I am thinking this is the story that never ends! it has been popping up daily with more and more comments!
Doreen Moisey 1
Should have put them in business class and used their heads about mother travelling alone with child???
Someone's head needs to roll here
Gary Bain 2
Business class was probably already full of airline standby passengers!
Geoff Arkley 0
Incorrectly scanned? Really?

Think I'll take a big screen TV up to the checkout and hope it "Incorrectly Scans" as a roll of Scotch Tape.
n9341c 0
OK HOOOOOOLD on a minute everyone. I'm hitting the BULLSHIT button on this story. Please question the facts on this before you go any further.
Richard Loven -7
For all the Law Experts that know about the 24 month Lap Law. It is hard to tell if a kid is 27 mo or 18 mo. You aren't going to ask for a birth certificate.
The whole thing sounds a little fishy anyway. A boy that looks like a girl, a shy defenseless minority that is afraid of getting beat up, getting displaced by a $100 dollar Ticket holder, etc. Anyway she got a long round trip for nothing. I hope she doesn't suffer from too much Post Traumatic Stress and the kid doesn't have any life long problems. Actually he will never remember any of this.
joel wiley 3
Fishy? Well there is a lot happening these days that can be placed into that category, eh?


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