Thursday 23 November 2017

United Airlines apologises to dad after detaining him for 'touching' son's lap

'This is not how anyone deserves to be treated' - Henry Amador-Batten - right - with Ben and Joel
'This is not how anyone deserves to be treated' - Henry Amador-Batten - right - with Ben and Joel

Natalie Paris

United Airlines is facing fresh criticism for mis-treating customers after cabin crew accused a father of touching his son inappropriately during a flight.

Henry Amador-Batten was travelling with his 5-year-old son son Ben back to North Carolina, in the US, from Puerto Rico on May 19, where Henry had been dealing with the death of his father.

When the pair went to get off the United Airlines flight at Raleigh-Durham International Airport, they were stopped by authorities following a complaint by a crew member about the way Amador-Batten had laid his arm across the boy's lap.

The incident made Amador-Batten fear that his son might be taken away from him.

Joel Amador-Batten, Henry's partner, wrote on a Facebook page for gay fathers, DADsquared: “My husband was detained after disembarking because a member of the flight crew made an accusation that my husband's hand/arm laying across my sleeping son's lap was too close to the 'child's genitalia'."

He said Henry was detained for almost an hour due to the “misguided” accusation, and made to feel “like a criminal” in front of other passengers.

“This is not how anyone deserves to be treated,” he continued on Facebook. “This is not something that should have happened in front of my son. This is not something that anyone should have to worry about happening to them on a flight just because someone might not like the looks of them.”

Ben had fallen asleep on Amador-Batten’s shoulder during the flight and he had later put his hand on the boy’s lap to comfort him.

Henry Amador-Batten told Telegraph Travel: "I honestly believed that they would/could at any point take my son away for questioning or worse. Being questioned made me feel, targeted, shamed, isolated, vulnerable and helpless.

"I was also extremely fearful and and still am that these allegations could affect our pending second child's adoption."

The couple are currently in the process of adopting their second son and Joel said they have the responsibility themselves for reporting any abuses they suspect are going on with children they come into contact with.

The airline apologised for the incident when the story went public.

"Our customers should always be treated with the utmost respect," United spokesman Jonathan Guerin said in an email that was published by the News & Observer.

"We have followed up with the customer directly and we apologised for the situation."

United has been contacted by Telegraph Travel for comment. Amador-Batten is reportedly considered pursuing legal action over the incident.

United’s publicity engine has only just recovered from putting out the fire that followed the decision to drag one of their passengers off a flight that was overbooked, last month.

Mr Dao, a 69-year-old Vietnamese-American doctor, was injured when Chicago police removed him from his seat and then dragged him from the plane to make space for four crew members on the flight from O'Hare International Airport to Louisville, Kentucky.

Dr Dao and the airline have since reached a settlement for an undisclosed sum.

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