Cassandra Hutchins, a mom from Golden River, CA, was flying back home this weekend from Denver with her 8-month-old daughter Mila when she was told to make the unsafe change. Originally, Mila's mom installed the seat in a rear-facing position—just like she does in the car. But she was then asked by a gate agent to turn the seat around so the baby would be facing forward.
According to the American Automobile Association, children under 2 years old should ride in car seats in the rear-facing position for safety purposes. In an interview with Good Morning America, Cassandra explained she decided to do the same on the plane ride because she felt it would be safer.
"I've researched everything heavily, so I knew that if I had her forward facing, just like in a car, any bump, anything—her neck isn't strong enough for that yet," she said. "I feel like I was being intimidated to put my daughter in danger."
The Federal Aviation Administration recommends children under 40 pounds should sit in child-safety seats that are approved by the administration. Parents should also install the seats as instructed by the manufacturer.
Cassandra said Mila's seat was approved by the FAA and was the proper size for her daughter’s age and weight. When the plane hit turbulence during the ride, she had to hold Mila’s head back herself to prevent any injury.
The airline admitted the employee was wrong to ask Cassandra to make the change to her car seat and is investigating the situation.
"At United, our customers’ safety is our top priority. We have been in touch with the customer and have apologized for her experience," the company said in a statement.
Cassandra added that she hopes the company learns from the incident.
"I think that every organization needs to take accountability, to know what their policies are and make sure everybody is aware."