United Airlines detained this gay dad for having his hands “too close” to son’s genitals

We’re not sure why there’s a new airline drama rolling out on the hour, but this one is particularly grotesque.

United Airlines is now apologizing to a family after detaining a man for having his hand resting on his son’s lap as he slept.

Related: Gay dads say they were denied family boarding privileges by Southwest agent

Now, he and his husband are speaking out about the incident.

ADMIN JOEL HERE…Tonight my husband was detained after disembarking a United flight to RDU because a member of the…

Posted by DADsquared on Friday, May 19, 2017

Apparently Henry and his five-year-old Ben were on their way back to North Carolina when the incident occurred.

Joel shared his side of the story on his husband’s Facebook page, a community called Dadsquared started by Amadon-Batten as an online meeting place for gay dads.

Related: United Airlines allegedly made a disabled gay man abandon his mobility device, ruining his honeymoon

Over the weekend, he wrote:

“Two nights ago my husband was detained after disembarking a United flight to RDU 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.”

He says his husband was “made to feel like a criminal” in front of other passengers, and wound up being detained for an hour while United staff grilled him.

United has since issued an apology:

“Our customers should always be treated with the utmost respect. We have followed up with the customer directly and we apologized for the situation.”

“This is not how anyone deserves to be treated,” writes Amadon-Batten.

“This is not something that should have happened in front of my son. 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.”

Apparently, the incident has deeply upset their son.

Related: United Airlines’ very bad week gets dragged hard on Twitter

“Ben is obviously processing something, he’s not sleeping in his own bed, wants to be with his daddies much more than usual right now,” Amadon-Batten tells Scary Mommy. “He’s feeling very sensitive and in need of a lot of love right now.”

The couple plans on seeking damages from United.

“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,” their attorney says.

“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. That type of emotional distress and improper persecution of one of their customers based off zero evidence needs to be rectified.”

“My husband and I are parents,” Amandon-Batton says. “We are foster parents.”

“We are in the process of adopting our second son. We are mandatory reporters for any abuses that we might suspect are going on with children that we may come into contact with. This misguided man’s assumptions about my husband and the accusations that he made are completely unfounded.”

The name United gets more ironic every day.

Images from Facebook/DSquared

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  • Paco

    There really needs to be a national boycott of all airlines until they are put in their place.

  • rbernard

    This is just awful – time to boycott

  • SnakeyJ

    The dads need to relax a bit. The attendant made a judgement call based on what they saw. Luckily the parent is not abusing, but they very well could have been, then the attendant would have been called a hero. The father should have stayed CALM, then his son wouldn’t be so traumatized, and just worked with the authorities. They would have let him go with no charges, like they did, but it wouldn’t have been a big scene. I understand the parent being angry, but really, this was someone looking out for a child, who saw something that was suspicious (admit it, it was).

    • cabe

      I’m willing to bet that if the attendant presumed that this Dad was straight, there would have been no issue.

    • Navalator

      You are a closet homophobe trying to make a case on “what ifs”, the refuge of a mean-spirited hypocritical (probably evangelical or Mormon) moron. The only thing suspicious to “admit” to here is the motivation of the United idiot. Your judgemental tone clearly “very well” indicates your snobbish condescending bigotry.

      Your arrogant address handle says it all: SNAKE.

    • SnakeyJ

      @Navalator: Just like your assumptions about me are not based on any facts, so is your argument about the employees motivation. The only facts we know are that an man’s hand was lying close to a young child’s crotch. It’s disconcerting to me that you would see that and not be concerned.

  • David

    It sounds like they weren’t travelling as a couple. So all the attendant saw was a much older man, with a child who didn’t look to be biologically related, with his hand in the kid’s lap. I’m honestly not sure that the airline worker did anything wrong. There’s a decent chance that I would have done the same thing, and I’m sorry telling me that you’re a foster parent does not make me assume that you’re not a sexual predator.

    To be honest, the need to continue to make a thing out of this is a bit concerning for me. Like you’re two dudes, you know that there’s going to be more speed bumps in parenting for you than there are for straight people. If I ever got married and decided to foster kids, I’d probably not be all that surprised when straight people make weird assumptions. Feeling a need to present yourself as the victim when someone expresses concern about what you’re doing with your kid is literally page 1 in the sexual predator handbook.

    I’m not saying this guy is or isn’t one, obviously there’s way too much info that I don’t know. But I know that most people when they’re not predatory, if they have someone question their behaviour, they don’t immediately get defensive and strike back. They tend to think to themselves, “How do I make sure that I express affection in a way that nobody is going to take the wrong way, and in a manner that I know my son won’t take the wrong way?”

    • Paco

      Gay men have always been accused of being pedophiles by homophobes and that cloud of suspicion tends to linger when false accusations or assumptions are made. Incidents like this should be called out and confronted publicly.

    • Me2

      @ Paco, You’re assuming the flight attendant knew he was gay. I recall a story from a few months ago, where a straight man molested a young girl on a flight and everyone was up in arms that the flight attendants didn’t notice sooner. So I understand this flight attendants rush to aid. I also understand the dad feeling thoroughly humiliated, but there is no evidence that he was singled out just because he’s gay.

    • FnameLname

      Really? YOU know how MOST PEOPLE react in a situation where they are accused of touching their children inappropriately? Give me a break. You have no idea how embarrassed or traumatized these gentlemen were. You assume that they were not seen as a gay couple because you want to assume that things like this don’t happen to gay men, that discrimination is not a factor in most modern day situations but it is still so prevalent. The sad thing is that people like you continue to blame the victims and somehow you are able to sleep at night with your condescending attitude. Hope nothing bad happens to you because you have probably pushed away anyone that would have given a damn.

  • niles

    OK, then why did he have his hand in the kid’s lap while he slept? Maybe the attendant acted out of excessive caution, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. There are lots of predators out there, even among foster parents, gay and straight. They seem now to be intent on traumatizing the poor kid even more with their publicizing of this unfortunate event. One wonders what are their real motivations.

    • niles

      OH, and the guy with the weird beard looks super creepy.

    • FnameLname

      The child will not know about the litigation that goes on and you seem to think that the mans hand was fondling the child when in reality he probably was just holding his child momentarily. I’m sure he wasn’t massaging the kids lap through out the entire flight. Blaming the victim is so typical. How gross.

    • SnakeyJ

      @FnameLname: you’re making a lot of broad assumptions in your replies. The fact is someone saw an adult male’s hand close to a young boy’s crotch. I hope most people would find that suspicious. You don’t know how long the hand was there. You don’t know that the employee was motivated by anything except concern.

  • Chris

    This is a damned-if-you-do damned-if-you-don’t situation. ….. Sex trafficking of children, according to police and whole bunch of child-advocacy organizations, is a significant problem throughout the world. They have put the airlines under a lot of pressure to help stem the transportation of children for that purpose. I’d guess that the flight attendant was acting on that basis. Tragically, that individual made a huge mistake by misinterpreting a parent’s innocent actions; and, I must wonder how well trained airline personnel are to conduct a one-hour interview of anyone. Honestly, I’m not sure what the best course of action is.

  • kurt_t

    I’m willing to accept that what happened between this parent and the flight attendant was a misunderstanding, but I can’t find fault with the way the flight attendant handled the situation. If i saw an adult passenger with his hands near a child’s genitals, I would be concerned about that, and if the adult passenger appeared to be asleep, that would be, maybe not a red flag, but perhaps a yellow flag. Is the adult really asleep? Or is the adult feigning sleep as a way to initiate and excuse inappropriate touching?

  • Ditamo

    Better safe than sorry….

    I feel bad that this happened to the dad, but I also think that if you suspect something is wrong you should say something to authorities. Human trafficking is alive and well. The flight attendant did his job, independent of being right or wrong.

  • Danny595

    I think I’ll wait to hear both sides of the story. They certainly wasted no time in finding a lawyer to $ue for money. And their claims that the kid is so terribly damaged by this incident sounds like they are trying to inflate the value of the lawsuit. I’m not concluding that United is 100% in the right, but it does seem that they might be spinning the details on this story.

  • derek mcgillicuddy

    Many years ago, I was on an American flight from Albuquerque to Chicago and was seated next to a young lady of about 12 who was traveling alone. She saw that I was reading in French (I am a teacher of French, German & Spanish) and she chatted me up. It turns out she is a fan of Victor Hugo, and so we talked about him and his books for a while. Just before we landed, she asked for my address so we could become pen pals I assume. The stewardess saw this and very loudly denounced me in front of the cabin for trying to interfere with a child. Since I had been drinking on the flight, I didn’t defend myself for fear of being labeled a DRUNK child molesterer. A few years later, I was driving in my hometown and it was about 25o outside and I saw a young man walking down the street wearing only a pair of shorts. I wanted to stop and see if he needed help (before he froze), but was afraid of putting myself in a delicate situation so I did nothing I am ashamed to say. This is how our society works in the 21st century, so get used to it or do what I do: stay at home all the time to avoid contamination with its base values and parochial prejudices.

  • artguy1000

    I have to call bullshit on this story and the f-ed up comments posted. Can we have a little common sense here – what child molester goes to these lengths to “molest” a kid out in the open on a damn plane?? If this individual were a molester, he’d have to be one especially idiotic one!

    As a gay foster parent myself, I can’t tell you how much homophobic bullshit I have to put up with. The level of hysteria associated with men who care for children is ridiculous. Yes, there are molesters in the world and we need to be alert to them but let’s stop with the blatant, glaringly hateful homophobic assumptions. Men (and yes, gay men) are totally capable of being loving, appropriate, nurturing fathers who raise healthy, well adjusted kids. Stop villainizing men who sacrifice a lot and work hard to be good, responsible dads to kids who are in desperate need of them.

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