United is apologizing publicly to gay dads and their son, and this time the airline looks homophobic in its customer service.
The apology, the fathers tell The Advocate, isn’t fixing the damage done by United’s accusation against the couple. “Those statements are generically manufactured and only in place to protect United,” said Henry Amador-Batten.
A flight attendant spotted Amador-Batten holding his sleeping 5-year-old son on the plane and reported him to authorities. The United crew member accused him of placing his hand and arm “too close to the child’s genitals.”
When it came time to leave the flight, Amador-Batten was detained and questioned for over an hour. Amador-Batten and his husband, Joel, adopted their son and are foster parents to another boy, making any report a serious risk to finalizing adoption of their second son.
“As soon as the news broke we emailed the case workers involved so that they'd hear it from us first,” said Amador-Batten.
Amador-Batten hasn’t kept quiet about the incident, although he says United asked him to.
“We got a call the day after the accusation,” recalls Amador-Batten, who said the representative asked “if we wouldn’t mind keeping this low key. She even mentioned all the bad press they'd been having and that she liked her job and wanted to keep it. That was literally a part our our ‘apology call.’”
Instead the couple has appeared in local news and spoken to CNN, which is expected to air an interview with him on Monday. United issued a statement to CNN.
"In this instance, the crew believed it was appropriate to ask authorities to meet the plane and interview the customer," the statement to CNN read. "After speaking with the customer, authorities determined that no further action was necessary. Our customers should always be treated with the utmost respect and we have followed up with our customer to apologize for the misunderstanding."
Amador-Batten and his family were on their way back to North Carolina after a trip to Puerto Rico to see his father, who was ill and then died.
Watch the Herald-Sun’s moving interview with the couple, who describes how their family has been deeply affected by the erroneous accusation:
In this video from CNN, Amador-Batten demonstrates how he and his son were sitting on the plane.