A woman is accusing American Airlines of forcing her to fly with her child seated in her lap, even though she purchased separate seats for both of her children.
Kelly Duvall was flying with her 18-month-old daughter and 3-year-old son from Phoenix to Chicago back in August, Forbes reports.
Duvall said she had purchased two aviation-approved car seats for each of children, as well as separate tickets.
Duvall, who searched American Airlines’ website on the protocol of bringing car seats aboard a flight, said she lugged the two recommended car seats, along with all of their luggage and her two children to the airport by herself.
However, once she got to the gate, Duvall said she was confronted with a “rude” agent who told her that she would have to check one of the car seats, as it was American Airlines’ policy.
“He simply said, ‘You can't bring two car seats.’” Duvall’s complaint says.
Though Duvall pointed out that nowhere on the website did it say two car seats were prohibited – and the FAA’s own website specifically states the safest place for a child is in an approved child restraint system and not sitting on a parents’ lap – the gate agent still forced her to check one of the seats.
Now, the airline and FAA are reportedly investigating the incident after Duvall filed written complaints with both the FAA and the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Duvall's claims range from being forced to check the car seats to being denied early family boarding for unknown reasons.
“I asked if I could board early for family boarding and he crossly told me, ‘We don't offer family boarding.’ When I mentioned I had read on the website that families can board early, he said ‘Only families that need extra time.’ I explained again that I was traveling alone with two small children and had two car seats that I needed to get onto the plane, in addition to all our luggage,” she writes.
After her request, she was denied early entry and erroneously told that two car seats are not allowed on the plane. FAA rules state no airline may "prohibit a child, if requested by the child's parent...., from occupying a child restraint system furnished by the child's parent... provided the child holds a ticket for an approved seat,” Forbes reports.
“I expressed how disappointed and frustrated I was that my children were not going to be safe on the flight, but he continued to be quite short and rude with me, as I was standing with both of my children, now feeling overwhelmed, saddened, scared, and frustrated. I also explained that nowhere on the American Airlines website had I seen anything about having to put a car seat in the window seat, or not being able to put more than one seat in a row, and he responded with a blank stare and said, ‘Well that's the rule,’" her complaint concluded.
Since her complaint, Duvall says American Airlines' customer service issued an apology, but have refused to confirm the airline’s policy on car seats.
Currently, the FAA is investigating another incident on a United Airlines flight regarding a child over two being forced to fly on his mother’s lap after the airline gave the child’s ticket away to a standby passenger.