United Airlines detained me because they didn't like how I held my son, says dad

Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.

A trend that's been evident in recent years is cabin crew behaving like special agents, not customer service agents.

Somehow, airlines have pressed their staff into policing -- as planes have become smaller, seats have become tighter and nerves have become more frayed.

The latest incident involves -- yet again, sadly -- United Airlines.

Joel Amador-Batten described what happened on the DADsquared Facebook page -- a community for gay fathers and families: "Tonight my husband was detained after disembarking a United flight to RDU [Raleigh-Durham airport] 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 genitals.'"

Henry Amador-Batten was on his way back from Puerto Rico where, says his husband, he was "dealing with his father's quick decline and subsequent death."

Joel Amador-Batten accuses the United flight attendant of "just not liking the look" of his husband.

"After being made to feel like a criminal in front of other passengers as they exited the plane," he said, "my husband filed a report of his own mentioning that the male flight attendant that must have accused him had treated him oddly in flight, and was promptly sent on his way."

How could it have come to this?

"There was exploration in the part of the flight crew as to who my son and husband were to one another," said Joel Amador-Batten. "There was an assumption and then an accusation."

I contacted United for its view and will update, should I hear. The airline did offer this statement to the Durham Herald-Sun: "Our customers should always be treated with the utmost respect. We have followed up with the customer directly and we apologized for the situation."

Naturally, though, the Amador-Battens have consulted a lawyer, Kenneth Padowitz.

He told the Herald-Sun: "Based on the horrible situation that they placed him in front of their son and other people on the plane, we are going to vigorously pursue to be compensated by the airline for this horrible embarrassing treatment."

Padowitz said there was "zero evidence" for the accusations. He added: "To have your young child see you be stopped by the police and be questioned like you have done something wrong based on nothing would cause any traveler to be mortified."

This isn't the first time this week that gay fathers have complained about the treatment they've received from airlines.

Two Florida dads say they were denied family boarding by Southwest Airlines because they were told by a female gate agent that they weren't a proper family.

Airline staff don't have it easy. They're pressured by the sometimes unreasonable demands of their employers, just as they're pressured by the sometimes unreasonable demands of passengers.

Flight attendants have used their skills of observation to save kids. For example, the Alaska Airlines flight attendant who noticed a distressed teen on a flight. The teen, it transpired was a victim of human trafficking.

They do, though, sometimes seem to stray into areas that just aren't their business.

That can only lead to more strife. And there's enough on planes as it is.

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Airline horror stories
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Airline horror stories

United Bans Leggings
Two passengers were denied boarding because they were wearing leggings in March. According to United, the airline had a right to deny boarding based on dress code because the girls were using “buddy passes” and were, therefore, representing the airline when they fly, similar to employees.

Photo Credit: Getty 

David Dao
Definitely not an employee, David Dao was forcibly removed from a United flight in April after he refused to give up his seat on an "overbooked flight," resulting in a serious concussion, a broken nose, and two lost teeth. Video of the incident went viral, causing United to change their policy and get slapped with a lawsuit that was quickly settled.

Photo Credit: Youtube

Giant Rabbit Dies
United also faced another controversy when a giant rabbit being transported on one of its planes died in the cargo during a flight. According to The Sun newspaper, the animal, named Simon, was the son of the world’s largest rabbit -- a four-foot long continental rabbit called Darius --and was expected to have grown larger than his father.

“Something very strange has happened and I want to know what. I’ve sent rabbits all around the world and nothing like this has happened before," said owner Annette Edwards.

Photo Credit: Twitter 

Bride and Groom Booted From Flight 
A bride and groom traveling to Costa Rica for their wedding in April were escorted off a United Airlines flight after they noticed a man sleeping in their seats and decided to move up three rows as to not wake the passenger. However, it was an "Economy Plus" seat and although the passengers said they complied to return to the seats, a U.S. Marshal removed them.

Photo Credit: Getty 

Altercation Between American Airlines and Mother
American Airlines suspended a flight attendant while investigating a scuffle between him, a mom and two babies. In a viral video, a woman is seen hysterically crying while holding a toddler, with a male flight attending yanking away the stroller for her second child.g a scuffle between him, a mom and two babies. In a viral video, a woman is seen hysterically crying while holding a toddler, with a male flight attending yanking away the stroller for her second child.

Photo Credit: Youtube

Delta Removes Passenger After He Used the Bathroom
At the end of April, a man was removed from a Delta flight after he used the bathroom while the plane awaited takeoff on the tarmac. 

Photo Credit: Getty 

Delta Worker Threatens Passengers With Jail Time
Early May, a Southern California family said they were kicked off an overbooked Delta flight because they refused to give up a seat they had bought for their young son sitting in a car seat. They were asked to have their son sit on their lap for the duration of the flight. They refused, saying they paid for the seat, to which the airline staff threatened the family with jail time.

Photo Credit: Getty 

Spirit Airlines Riot
In May, Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport descended into total chaos after nine Spirit Airlines flights were canceled, leaving hundreds of passengers stranded and increasingly irate in the terminal. The cancellations were the result of a legal dispute between the budget airline and the Air Line Pilots Association International. 

 Courtesy of Jary Romero/Handout via REUTERS

Teen Trapped in Airport Alone Overnight
According to CBC News, a 15-year-old boy was "trapped" overnight in an airport alone when Air Canada rebooked him on another flight after he missed his original one. However, the flight was almost 24 hours later and the airline did not offer him any accommodation or vouchers for food. Because he is a minor, he could not get a hotel room, he says.

(Photo by Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Passenger Forced to Pee in a Cup
Also in May, a passenger claimed she was forced to pee in a cup aboard a United flight after flight attendants told her she wasn’t allowed to use the lavatory until the pilot had turned off the fasten seatbelt sign.

The woman, who had an overactive bladder, was told the flight attendant would be filing a report about the incident.

Photo Credit: Getty 


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