United Airlines has issued an apology after a flight attendant falsely accused a gay father of inappropriately touching his young son on a flight.
Henry Amador-Batten was travelling home to North Carolina with his son Saturday, when the plane’s captain told police that flight attendants had observed Amador-Batten with his hands “near the genitals” of a boy, a Raleigh-Durham International Airport police report shows.
When the plane landed, Amador-Batten was met by armed officers who laid out the accusations against him — right in front of his 5-year-old son.
“There was a complaint made in flight that your hand was seen too close to your son’s genitals,” police said, Amador-Batten told the Daily News.
“My first reaction was disbelief — I asked him to repeat it because I wasn’t sure what I was hearing,” he said.
Then, Amador-Batten recalled subtle, telltale signs from a crew member during the flight. He described two seat visits from a male flight attendant who gave him an “odd glance.”
“It was the kind of glance a lot of families who are minorities have probably picked up on and it felt like that,” Amador-Batten said.
Back at the gate, Amador-Batten said he feared his son might be taken away from him. He became angry, and filed a police complaint against the flight attendant who had reported him.
“We have one child in foster care whose adoption is not finalized yet, and these are the kinds of allegations that are far-reaching and long-lasting,” he said.
Amador-Batten explained that he and his son slept next to each other for most of the flight. He described the positions they were in. “Benjamin lays his head on the upper part of my shoulder and wraps his left arm around my arm, and my hand will naturally fall on his lap. He had his great grandmother’s blue blanket on him and my hand would have been on top of that blanket. That’s all anyone could possibly have seen,” he said.
A week later, United apologized. “Our customers should always be treated with utmost respect. We have followed up with the customers directly and we apologized for the situation,” an airline representative said in an emailed statement to ABC 11.
But the Amador-Batten family has no plans to ever fly United again.
“The only reason we flew United was because of the timing. But otherwise I would never have flown United based on what United has been doing.”
Amador-Batten’s husband, Joel Amador-Batten, who was not on the flight, took to Facebook to air his grievances.
“This is not something that anyone should have to worry about happening to them on a flight just because someone might not like the looks of them.”
The family’s attorney, Ken Padowitz, told the Daily News there “would absolutely be ramifications” and is seeking compensation for his client from the airline.
“The flying public is sick and tired of the conduct occurring to patrons that have bought a ticket to fly. If they don’t resolve the case with us soon we will file suit,” he said.
“We can’t go back in time and have United not have allowed this horrible thing to happen to this 5-year-old and his father. The only remedy available is to compensate them monetarily. Maybe then, and only then will United stop behaving in this manner toward their customers.”
Microaggressions — they’re everywhere.