United Airlines is reportedly facing a formal investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration after yet another incident of overbooking created more bad publicity and possibly unsafe conditions.
The June incident involved a mother named Shirley Yamauchi traveling on a United flight. She was forced to hold her 27-month-old son on her lap for more than three hours despite the fact that she had purchased a separate ticket for him.
According to Forbes.com, FAA officials will be working with United to conduct a formal investigation into the events in order to determine if the airline had violated any safety rules or regulations.
FAA regulations state that all passengers who have reached their second birthday onboard each plane must be assigned an approved seat or berth with a separate safety belt that can be properly secured during takeoff, the actual flight and landing.
In response to the backlash regarding the incident, United released a statement taking the blame for the error while issuing Yamauchi a refund for the price of her son’s ticket and a travel voucher.
“On a recent flight from Houston to Boston, we inaccurately scanned the boarding pass of Ms. Yamauchi’s son,” a United spokesperson said in a statement. “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.”
One of Yamauchi biggest complaints throughout the incident is that she did not feel comfortable putting up a fight with the flight attendant on duty due to recent incidents involving United flights, including the forced removal of passenger Dr. David Dao.’
Hopefully, the FAA investigation will force United to reevaluate the way it overbooks flights in order to avoid similar incidents in the future.