Cassie Hutchins, a mom from Colourado, found herself in a very uncomfortable situation when a gate agent told her to sit her 8-month-old daughter in her car seat incorrectly by having her face forward. In a recent Facebook post, Cassie outlined exactly what happened before boarding her United flight at Denver International Airport.
"We flew back home today, and the second we got to the gate, the agent had issues," she wrote. "This man was staring at my daughter as I scanned both her and my tickets. He asked if she had her own seat since I had her in her car seat. I replied 'yes' because he saw me scan both."
Cassie explained that the questions didn't stop there and the situation was becoming tense.
"He asked her name, I said it. I showed him the ticket again and then started to walk away and then he asked me what seats we're sitting in," she explained. "I've NEVER been asked that and it obviously was starting to seem like United was trying to take away my daughter's seat and just have her sit on my lap. I showed him our [first class] tickets so he dropped it and let us go."
"You cannot put a rear-facing seat forward, it is not meant for facing forward."
Because Cassie's daughter weighed only 18 pounds, Cassie sat her baby rear-facing as soon as they found their seats. But unfortunately for the pair, that wasn't the last of their troubles.
As soon as the plane was about to leave, Cassie saw the same man at the gate tell the flight attendant that she has a car seat — and that's when all hell broke loose.
Then he walks over and tells me that now I can't have her rear-facing. I tell him that's ridiculous because their other flight let us, and this is what is recommended by FAA . . . yet, this man told me that we can't be on the flight without facing her forward. He then has another woman come on and berate me for trying to not face my daughter forward, WHICH IS SO UNSAFE. You cannot put a rear-facing seat forward, it is not meant for facing forward, putting my child in a dangerous position.
After a few minutes of arguing, the gate attendant allegedly told Cassie that the plane couldn't leave until her child was forward-facing — even though it isn't safe.
Eventually, Cassie complied, even though the car seat wasn't meant to be positioned that way. "So I face her forward, and I can't even get the belt through the slots on her car seat because it should be rear-facing, and it's facing the opposite way, so the belt wouldn't fit through it. "
Rightfully irritated, Cassie asked the flight attendants about the airline's car seat policy while they were in the air. And after looking into it, the flight attendant admitted that Cassie was actually right.
"After looking, she comes back and says that she is supposed to [be] rear-facing, but the gate agents have final say in how the baby sits."
According to Cassie, the flight attendants let the 8-month-old sit in a rear-facing position for landing and even tried to help the struggling mom rearrange her car seat. But for Cassie, the efforts were too little, too late.
"The flight attendants let me turn her around for landing, and they kept apologising and trying to help," she wrote. "But I'm PISSED . . . And how in the world is United letting their gate agents be unaware of safety precautions yet have the final say in how a baby sits? We hit a huge patch of turbulence in the beginning of the flight, and I had to hold her head back because her head would throw forward with a big bump."
In an update to her original post, Cassie said that United was looking into what happened and have launched a formal investigation. She also got her and her daughter's tickets refunded.