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United Airlines is admitting an employee was wrong in forcing a Sacramento woman to place her baby's car seat facing forward during a flight.
Cassie Hutchins, 23, of Gold River, was flying back to Sacramento from Denver on Sunday with her eight-month-old daughter Mila.
"Rear-facing on the seat is what's recommended," said Hutchins, based off her car seat manufacturer's instructions.
FAA regulations say that a car seat must be installed in accordance with the manufacturers' instructions. Hutchins said she purchased two flights, as the FAA also recommends purchasing a separate ticket for children under the age of 2 and using a car seat.
As the flight was about to take off, Hutchins said the gate agent got on the flight, insisting Mila's car seat be forward-facing. Hutchins argued with the agent and the other flight attendants, but eventually complied because she felt she would be kicked off the flight.
Hutchins said she kept insisting the gate agent and flight attendants check the policy, but it wasn't until 20 minutes before landing, did they let Hutchins flip her daughter's car seat around. Hutchins said she wasn't able to put on the seatbelt properly with the car seat facing forward, and she was worried the entire flight.
"A lot of parents have gone through the same thing, specifically with United," Hutchins said. "A lot of people didn't know the danger of forward-facing, so now it's also started the conversation of why you shouldn't."
Skywest operates regional flights for United.
"I knew the rules. I knew what I was supposed to be doing," Hutchins said. "Even just with turbulence, her head's not strong enough. I was holding her head against the back of the seat for a good majority of the flight. As a first-time mom, you're paranoid about everything anyway. In a situation like that, everything that could possibly go wrong is in your mind."
United has refunded Mila's flight ticket, but Hutchins wants more than that.
"A lot of people are really concerned with the fact that an airline seemed to not know what safety measures should be," said Hutchins.
In a statement to ABC10, United Airlines acknowledges that its employee was mistaken in asking Hutchins to face Mila's car seat forward:
"At United, our customers’ safety is our top priority. We have been in touch with the customer and have apologized for her experience. We are continuing to review this with the SkyWest staff to learn more about what happened."
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