Yet again, United Airlines is at the center of a controversy. This time it is for endangering an infant. On a recent flight, mom Cassie Hutchins says that a United gate agent made her place her daughter's car seat in an incorrect position. When flying from Denver to Sacramento, Hutchins claims the agent began questioning her about her eight month old daughter Mila, and how she would be flying. Hutchins says that the agent questions were unusual, including if she was bringing the car seat on the plane, and where their seats were on the plane. After showing her and Mila's tickets, Hutchins thought everything was fine, but soon, she would learn they were not.
Like any mom traveling with an infant, Cassie Hutchins did all of her research in advance of flying. She explains in a Facebook post, that she looked up the FAA regulations. The rules state clearly that if an infant is flying in an infant car seat, the car seat can be rear facing, as long as the airplane seat is forward facing. Since Mila is only around 18 pounds, Hutchins was doing the safest thing she could. No one on the flight crew said anything to Hutchins as she placed Mila rear facing and put her to sleep. Then suddenly, as the plane was gearing up to leave the gate, the same agent ran onto the plane.
After confronting the flight attendant about the infant on the plane, Cassie Hutchins says he came to her seat. Seeing Mila rear facing in her seat, the agent argued that the seat must be forward facing. Hutchins explained that she had done her research and cited the FAA regulations. But the agent was adamant that she was wrong, and that Mila must be forward facing. Anyone with an infant knows that infant car seats are not designed to face forward. The agent however, continued insisting that Hutchins had to turn Mila's seat around.
“They were telling me I need to forward-face her or the plane couldn’t move. They kept telling me I was wrong, but I did all of my research and I knew what she should’ve been doing. They tried to make me feel like it didn’t matter,” Hutchins tells PEOPLE.
Against her better judgment, Hutchins turned Mila's seat around. Then, the plane hit turbulence. Naturally, because she wasn't properly secured in her seat, the baby was being jostled around significantly. “I was concerned that if we hit something bigger it could’ve been an issue," Hutchins says.
Before the end of the flight, crew on the flight approached Hutchins, apologizing for putting Mila in danger and admitting that they were wrong about the policy. Hutchins was then allowed to face Mila properly for landing. Of course, she immediately set out to file an complaint with United, who is now investigating the incident. They have also refunded the price of Mila's ticket to Hutchins.