Mom of Twins Says a Flight Attendant ‘Belittled And Harassed’ Her Over Her Kids’ Seats

It’s no secret that flying with young children can often be challenging. Juggling bags, disrobing in the TSA line while making sure your children don’t run away, carrying squirming, little bodies. By the time you get on the actual airplane, you’re likely sweating and just praying that your children don’t cause a scene onboard.

One Oregon woman recently flew by herself with not one, but two children under the age of 2. Sadly, a flight attendant made an already stressful situation even worse. So much so that this mom sued American Airlines and won.

Hamilton was traveling with her twin daughters from Oregon to Florida.
In February 2023, lawyer Erika Hamilton, traveled from Portland, Oregon, to Tallahassee, Florida. She was accompanied by her 18-month-old twin daughters. The three had a layover in Dallas, USA Today reports. In her complaint, Hamilton wrote that she purchased two tickets: one for herself and one for her other daughter. She planned for her second child to sit in her lap, based on American Airlines’ policy.

The policy states that children under the age of 2, “must either travel in a safety seat approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) or be able to sit upright in their seat without assistance and have their seatbelt securely fastened during taxi, takeoff, landing and whenever the ‘fasten seatbelt’ sign is on.” Children under 2 can also fly for free if they are sitting in another passenger’s lap. Hamilton says both of her children were able to sit upright in a seat at the time of the flight.

The flight attendant kept telling Hamilton she’d never seen someone travel alone with two children.
But apparently, the flight attendant on Hamilton’s flight was unaware of the rules. In an email to USA Today, Hamilton claimed she was “belittled and harassed” as a result. “When I was doing something that is absolutely allowed and that is already just really hard — flying alone with two kids under the age of two.”

In her complaint, Hamilton says that the first round of the trip was fine. But during the layover, a confrontation ensued. Once Hamilton and her girls boarded the plane, a flight attendant “approached me to question whether my seating configuration was safe for my children.” But it didn’t end there.

“The flight attendant came back and started really digging into me about my kids, asking when they were born,” Hamilton told The Street. “She seemed really confused because they had the same birthday and seemed to think that I didn’t know the age of my kids because I kept saying they had the same birthday. Twins were a difficult concept, apparently, and she just kind of really dug in about what was I doing as a single mother traveling with two kids. She said I’ve never seen this before and all of my years being a flight attendant, I’ve never seen a mother travel alone with two infants before and just really started digging into this idea that I shouldn’t be there with two kids.”

The flight attendant told Hamilton it was against the rules for children to fly without a car seat. Hamilton tried to pull up the rules to show the attendant that was not the case. The flight attendant said the airline had an unwritten rule that forbade it.

When Hamilton asked for a refund, American Airlines offered her a $75 voucher.
A passenger behind Hamilton offered to hold one of the girls, which Hamilton felt was her only option at that point. “By doing so, American Airlines placed the safety of my child at risk, given it is much safer for my child to be seated in her seat, with the safety belt fastened, then to be a lap child in the care of a stranger,” she wrote in the complaint.

Midway through the flight, the attendant came back and apologized, telling her she had misunderstood the rule. Afterward, Hamilton reached out to American Airlines for a refund. They only offered her a $75 voucher. She decided to take her complaint to small claims court. She filed a lawsuit in April for “breach of contract” and “negligent infliction of emotional distress.” She was seeking $3,500 in damages.

Hamilton won.
After winning her case, Hamilton said, “I took the case to court because I think a big problem with corporate America is that there is very little remedy for the ‘little guy’ when a corporation essentially steals from you … What happened here was that American Airlines sold me a ticket, and then refused to let me use that ticket because they did not know or understand the terms and conditions of their own contract.”

Hamilton also noted that instead of just refunding her flight, American Airlines “chose to take this all the way through a trial, after hiring a private attorney, and doing so must have cost them in the tens of thousands of dollars.”

Witnesses said the attendant’s claims were categorically false.
American Airlines filed a Motion for Summary of Judgment, claiming that Hamilton could not “meet each of the substantive elements of her claims,” according to an excerpt published by The Street.

The airline also said crew members could deny people the right to fly “for any reason” which would not put them in breach of contract. Hamilton had two other passengers testify that the flight attendants claims were “categorically false.” Thankfully, the judge sided with Hamilton.