Continental Puts 10-Year-Old Child On The Wrong Plane

UPDATE: Continental Offers Free Flights, Frequent-Flyer Status To Misrouted Child’s Family

Sure, airlines misroute luggage all the time. But how about misrouting a ten-year-old girl to the wrong state?

Yesterday, Jonathan’s ten-year-old daughter boarded a plane from Boston to Cleveland to visit her grandparents. She flew as an unaccompanied minor, meaning that her family paid an extra fee for airline staff to keep an eye on her and make sure she was taken care of and ended up where she needed to be. They didn’t. She ended up on a plane bound for Newark, NJ.

The planes to Cleveland and Newark, both regional jets, used the same departure gate and were parked next to each other on the tarmac. Airline staff put the little girl on the wrong plane, and no one realized that anything was amiss until Jonathan’s in-laws in Ohio received a phone call telling them that they could pick up their granddaughter. In New Jersey.

Jonathan wrote about the situation and the immediate aftermath on his blog:

When the flight arrived in Newark, no one there noticed that my daughter had been put on the wrong flight and flown the wrong city, again despite the fact that her paperwork clearly spelled out both the flight number and destination. The Continental people in Newark called my in-laws’ phone number to tell them to come pick her up as if nothing was wrong, despite the fact that their address on the form was an Ohio address and their phone number had an Ohio area code. The people in Newark did not call my home or cell number to find out why no one was at the airport to pick up my daughter, despite the fact that they had both of those numbers on the same paperwork as my in-laws’ number.

We didn’t find out something was wrong until my father-in-law called me from the arrival gate in Cleveland to ask why my daughter wasn’t on the plane.

It took forty-five minutes from that point until the Continental people in Cleveland finally confirmed that she was in Newark. The only reason they were able to figure it out at all is because I told them that there had been a flight to Newark boarding at the same gate and the best possible explanation for her whereabouts was that the gate agent put her on the wrong flight (the alternatives were much worse!). God only knows how long it would have taken them to figure out where she was if I hadn’t noticed the Newark flight leaving from Boston and mentioned it to them.

The folks in Cleveland “graciously” offered to refund the unaccompanied minor fee. My father-in-law laughed when they made the offer, it was so outrageous. You can bet they’ll be refunding a lot more than that fee by the time I’m done with them.

I can see all of the parents reading this post shuddering right now. Jonathan has contacted the airline as well as the FAA, and hopes to hear back from them very, very soon.

Another airline screwup you just will NOT believe: Continental puts my unaccompanied minor daughter on the wrong plane! [Something better to do]
Frequently Asked Questions about Children Traveling Alone [Continental Airlines]

(Photo: quinnanya)

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. Daniel Milan says:

    Lost baggage insurance, lost child insurance?

  2. Shoelace says:

    Sue them hard.

    • sonneillon says:

      @Shoelace: In this case since there wasn’t much in the way of damage a lawsuit wouldn’t be the best course of action. In the end getting the full ticket price refunded might be the prudent course. Yeah they could get more with a lawsuit but after paying a lawyer and spending 2 year litigating a refund would have proved more useful.

      • Anonymous says:

        @sonneillon:

        Not much damage?!?!?!? Try criminal charges like endangering the welfare of a minor? Try civil charges such as the complete and utter terror of the parents & grandparents when the little girl did not get off the plane she was suppose to be on? This is a breach of the highest order and Continental should not only have to pay damages, but there should be firings over this and a mandatory complete revamp of their boarding system.

        • Liam Kinkaid says:

          @ShorashiEndeis: Continental dropped the ball, yes. However, the child was not in much danger. Airline travel is much, much safer than ground travel so, by your logic, the parents “endanger the welfare of a minor” to a much greater extent every time they transport the kid by car.

          As for “complete and utter terror”, are you serious? It doesn’t sound like the father is as overreactionary as you are, which is a good thing, IMO.

          How often does this sort of thing happen? It’s the first time I’ve heard of it, so I don’t think it’s very common at all. People should be retrained. Maybe someone should lose their job over it. I don’t think there needs to be a “complete revamp of their boarding system” that would no doubt be passed on to all the passengers.

          I did a search on Continental for flights from BOS-CLE and BOS-EWR. From what I can tell, she was supposed to be on CO2541 arriving at 11:44 in CLE, departing gate A9 at 9:55. She was on flight CO1225 arriving in EWR at 11:02, departing gate A9 at 9:45.

          Continental requires the parent to be with the child in the departing airport until the plane leaves. It seems that, in the confusion, the father sent the daughter on the wrong flight. I checked the seat map for the EWR flight and there are open seats, so she could have taken one of those. Why this wasn’t caught in the headcount, however, I don’t know.

          Mistakes were made all around, but to go flying off in a tizzy is asinine.

          • sixseeds says:

            @Liam Kinkaid: How is that possible if no one is allowed past security without a boarding pass?

            I flew once as an unaccompanied minor and even back then my parents were not allowed to see me to the gate.

            • Liam Kinkaid says:

              @sixseeds: From [www.continental.com] :

              You will receive a check-point pass which will permit you to pass through security with your child. It is then necessary for you to wait at the gate until the airplane departs. Please note that due to security restrictions at some airports you may not be permitted to enter the gate area. In such a case, your child will be escorted by a Continental representative.

              Checking Logan’s website ([massport.com]), unticketed persons are generally not allowed past security, but exceptions can be made by the airlines. Because Continental’s policy is to give a security pass to a parent, I assume that’s what happened in this situation.

            • bibliophibian says:

              @sixseeds: One adult is allowed to accompany the minor to the gate; the adult has to present ID and check in at the front to get a not-exactly-boarding pass. My son’s 14, almost 15, and I just sent him off on Saturday; even though he doesn’t technically meet the “unaccompanied minor” criteria (i.e., he doesn’t have to have the red packet around his neck, doesn’t have to be hand-carried to and from the boarding gates, no extra fee, etc) he’s still enough of a “minor” that I’m allowed to accompany him. (And enough of a minor to still want me to, heh.)

              He’s been flying on his own (or with flight attendant assistance) since he was about 8, and he’s a very level-headed, practical, capable, and LARGE young man (the ticket clerk assumed he was over 18 when I requested my pass), but I would STILL be a puddle on the floor if something like this had happened. Hell, he was delayed in Phoenix because of weather problems at his destination and I was a ball of nerves about it… and I’m pretty much the opposite of a “copter mom.” Something about them being at a distance with no one they know, and being at the mercy of the people who screwed it up in the first place, really brings out the panic in even the most laid-back of parents.

          • CumaeanSibyl says:

            @Liam Kinkaid: I don’t think “complete and utter terror” is really that much of an exaggeration for a parent who has just discovered that his/her child has disappeared — especially when it’s not “oh, she might be down the block playing with her friends,” but rather “she could be pretty much anywhere in the entire world right now.”

            • Liam Kinkaid says:

              @CumaeanSibyl: While I agree that they did have a right to be upset and scared, I think that “emotional distress” is an all too often touted knee-jerk response as a way to get your foot in the door in starting a lawsuit, as ShorashiEndeis would have the OP do.

              Don’t get me wrong, though. Continental screwed up. They should be kissing this guy’s ass and, at the very least, issue a public apology and refund the unaccompanied minor fees as well as the original fare.

              • Goodnightbabytron says:

                @Liam Kinkaid: This is clearly an issue where people with kids and people without kids are never going to understand each others’ point of view. It doesn’t make either class of people wrong.

                • Liam Kinkaid says:

                  @Goodnightbabytron: I suppose you’re right. I don’t have kids myself, so maybe I’m not in a position to make an assessment. The comment made above, however, reminded me of Chinese woman who missed her flight level hysterics.

                • CumaeanSibyl says:

                  @Goodnightbabytron: I don’t have kids, but I recall quite clearly wandering off to a neighbor’s house when I was a child without telling my parents, and my mother’s reaction. “Complete and utter terror” might not have described it, but she was plenty fucking scared.

                  Hell, if the airlines lost my cat I would be in hysterics. I probably wouldn’t sue if everything turned out all right, but she’s a cat, not a child.

        • Munchie says:

          @ShorashiEndeis: Wow the parent copters need to come in for a landing. A mistake was made, no one was hurt and everything turned out ok. For the inconvience and worry a small apeasment is justified. I would say any costs incurred to the family to correct the issue and a small amount on top for good will.

        • sonneillon says:

          @ShorashiEndeis: Fiscal damages. There was all kinds of endangerment that is true, but and this is where the civil courts are concerned, the only thing that the parents were cost was time. The kid may have a some issues later in life but physically was unharmed. Yes there should be firings, yes there should be a revamp of their boarding system, but in civil courts it’s about what you can prove as damage, even punitive this would probably not be worth going to real court over and small claims would be the better choice.

          I’m not saying that this is excusable I’m just saying that there isn’t much money in it.

  3. Wombatish says:

    This is just… mistakes do happen, but this one is a doozy. And yeah. Just refunding the fee? Wow. I bet they expect him to pay for the ticket from NJ to Ohio, assuming they even gave that poor, scared little girl one!

    • Nick1693 says:

      @Wombatish: If anything, they’ll charge them for not using the ticket to Ohio and charge them for the ticket to New Jersey.

      • snowburnt says:

        @Nick1693: not to mention transfer fees and name change fees and baggage fees…I wonder if the girl had a drink on the plane, that’ll be a few more fees. Also they’ll have to change the return ticket from Ohio to a return ticket from new jersey…that’s a fee. not to mention the additional baggage she’s probably carrying now “Daddy put me in the hands of a company that can’t be bothered to save a 10 year olds life for a fee”

    • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

      @Wombatish: “I bet they expect him to pay for the ticket from NJ to Ohio”

      I don’t know if this is still the case, but the airlines used to be legally responsible for paying the transit costs of misplaced or delayed minors, even up to say there was a layover somewhere that got held up due to weather — the airline used to have to pay to ensure that child was safely cared for overnight, etc.

      (Way, way, way back in the day, my mom was 17 and on a two-legged flight where the second leg got canceled, and the airline actually had to charter a van to send her and three other teenaged minors on to their destination the next state over. Everyone else on the flight was just SOL. But that was in like the late 60s.)

  4. blueneon says:

    That was my biggest worry anytime my daughter made the trip to/from Colorado and TN by herself.

  5. CoarseLive says:

    Why in Christ’s name does anyone fly with Delta, United or Continental? Seriously?

    • snowburnt says:

      @CoarseLive: Why does anyone fly any more? She really should have just walked, she would have gotten there faster and she would have saved herself from childhood obesity, am I right?

    • bilge says:

      @CoarseLive: Probably because the flight goe where they want it to at a reasonable pricce. Why do people ask stupid questions on Consumerist?

    • Spinfusor says:

      @CoarseLive: I’d swap out Continental for U.S. Airways above (I’ve always had good service with Continental).

      From looking at Continental’s timetable ([www.continental.com]), I’m almost certain that his daughter was flying an ExpressJet (branded Continental Express) flight from A9. I don’t know whether the gate employees were from EJ or Continental (only EJ was leaving from A9), and not that it makes the situation any better, but it explains the crappy flight crew (not noticing one extra / one missing from the manifest).

    • Radi0logy says:

      @CoarseLive: As stupid as this post is, I have to honestly ask, what is wrong with Delta? I see them rarely, if ever, on consumerist, and have had nothing but good experiences with them ( the 16 hours home from China really can’t be blamed on them :P )

      • dimndgal1 says:

        @Radi0logy:
        I have a whole bushel of bad Delta stories – ranging from general bad service, tales of routing through ATL (shudder), three emergency landings (and how rescheduling each became MY responsibility) and baggage ending up in HLN (Helena) and not (HNL) Honolulu. It was hell when I lived in two different cities that were serviced only by Delta or a Delta code-share.

        That said, my step-dad is now a super-duper Triple Gold Star Delta frequent flier and in his 15 years of flying with them has only had good luck. All this makes me think that some people just have bad karma with some airlines, while others don’t. For instance, I have only had a few minor issues with Northwest and all were resolved well in my favor. Now that the two are one, though, I am nervous how my odds will play out.

      • PennyMartian says:

        @Radi0logy: As I sat in ATL on the third day, realizing I was never going to be put on a flight to the Virgin Islands because I’d made the horrible mistake of buying a stand-by ticket and was now trapped in ATL, losing all of the money I’d spent for the resort in St. John., I thought, ‘This is what’s wrong with Delta.’

        • Radi0logy says:

          @PennyMartian: Wait, let me get this straight – You’re a cheapskate, and you gambled on a ticket that EVERYONE knows is chancy. Your gamble failed, and you blame it on Delta? Nice.

    • subtlefrog says:

      @CoarseLive: Because the kid was going to Cleveland, and Continental has a hub there, so it’s one of the few airlines with direct flights to Cleveland from a lot of places. Because of the hub, they are also often cheaper into / out of Cleveland.

      That would be my guess, anyway.

  6. DaWezl says:

    Not to excuse the overall mistake, but in this day and age, I’m not surprised the NJ crew didn’t note the Ohio area code. Newark routinely gets passengers from all over the tri-state area b/c it’s easier to get to than LGA or JFK. There are probably 15-20 area codes that they regularly see. Additionally, bc of unlimited calling plans, many people don’t bother to change their cell number if they move.

    • Ben Miner says:

      @DaWezl: I thought the same thing. I rarely pay any attention the area code on phone numbers anymore.

    • RandomHookup says:

      @DaWezl: I recently called someone in Kazakhstan who had kept her Boston-area phone number.

    • TheWillow says:

      @willthetech: Well, just you and “chakrabs” but I guess my parents never loved me when they paid to send me to summer camp and let me get picked up by total strangers at the airport.

    • henwy says:

      @DaWezl:

      WHy would they pay attention? Cell phones can have any area code and people travel around with them, often for extended periods. Hell, I had a NJ area code on my phone while in chicago for 6 years.

      • DaWezl says:

        @henwy: From the article above:

        “The Continental people in Newark called my in-laws’ phone number to tell them to come pick her up as if nothing was wrong, despite the fact that their address on the form was an Ohio address and their phone number had an Ohio area code. “

        My point is exactly the same as yours–that there’s no reason at all why an Ohio area code would be a red flag.

  7. raincoaster says:

    Sooooo, DID they charge them for the flight from Newark?

  8. Shoelace says:

    Just thought of something: That 10 year old girl must have figured out while en route to Newark that she was on the wrong plane, either through the announcement or conversation with a stewardess or other passengers. The flight staff would then check it out and realize the girl was put on the wrong plane. At that point Continental should have been notified and prompt calls made to her father and her mom’s family in Ohio.

    Also, whichever airline employee was supposed to keep an eye on the girl on the flight to Ohio should have noticed the absence of girl, inquired and found out she was checked in, the result being a few more calls within Continental followed by a prompt call to the father.

    I can’t believe that at least one of these scenarios didn’t occur, yet it sounds like they didn’t.

    • snowburnt says:

      @Shoelace: yeah, damn 10 year old’s not knowing that she wasn’t going east enough.

    • pop top says:

      @Shoelace: Why should a 10-year old just magically know they were on the wrong flight? She was probably told by her parents to listen to the airline’s employees and they were the ones who put her on the plane. She was also most likely scared because she was alone and in an unfamiliar place.

      But yeah, it was probably was her fault she got on the wrong plane. Stupid kid!

      • floraposte says:

        @squinko: And even if she did know the difference, she’s not really going to be able to overpower the adults. I had this vision of the kid saying, “Lady, I don’t think this is the right plane,” and the grownups patting her on the head and telling her essentially to STFU.

        • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

          @floraposte: When I was 10, I was terrified of strange adults. I would have been curled up in my corner seat trying very hard not to have any strangers notice me and — God forbid — ATTEMPT TO SPEAK TO ME. Even if I *had* noticed, I would have been way too scared to bring it up to a flight attendant.

          (Which would, granted, be an excellent indicator I shouldn’t have flown alone when I was 10, but then I never had family circumstances that required it, so I’m not gonna judge.)

          • oneandone says:

            @Eyebrows McGee (now with more baby!): I’m a shy person, and was extremely shy as a child. My family’s spread out over several countries, so I got used to flying (on my own) but always mildly terrified someone would talk to me. I still remember a very frightening security lady or flight attendant who demanded to see my passport when I was waiting at a gate. Caught me totally off guard, and I was convinced they were going to throw me in jail.

            In retrospect, my parents were kind of crazy sending me all over without an escort – or even a cellphone. On the other hand, everything was absolutely fine and maybe it helped me get a little less socially awkward.

            • EYESONLY says:

              @oneandone: So much of this depends on knowing your kid’s personality, I think… I flew unaccompanied internationally (L.A.-Asia) once or twice a year as a kid and always absolutely LOVED it, especially when there were layovers. :)

          • floraposte says:

            @Eyebrows McGee (now with more baby!): Whereas I was a smartass know-it-all. I traveled parentless with my brother once when I was 8 and he was 12, and it was definitely my job to negotiate the airport and verify the itinerary.

            Not saying that she had to be like that, of course, just envisioning the possibility of a young Daria Morgendorfer staring in weary disbelief as the adults pack her off to Newark.

        • mcnerd85 says:

          @floraposte: “Miss lisp Lady, I think I am on the wrong flight.” “I am a man little missy, and if you don’t calm the fuck down I am going to have that large TSA man detain you with extreme prejudice, right after he takes me for a game of ‘find the zipper’ in the bathroom.”

    • Kavatar says:

      @Shoelace: I disagree with saying the girl should have realized she was on the wrong flight, but what you said in your second paragraph should have happened. What’s the point of having a separate fee for an unaccompanied minor if the flight crew isn’t going to at least make sure the minor is on their flight?

      • Shoelace says:

        @Kavatar: I wasn’t at all trying to put responsibility on the girl. I’m sorry if I wasn’t clear. My point was that the girl, sometime in the air, would likely have heard the pilot announce that they were on flight to Newark (not Ohio). She also could have chatted with another passenger and found out that the plane was going to Newark. If either or both occurred I figured she would probably – though not definitely – check with a flight attendant, who would find out the girl was on the wrong plane, and the father should have been notified before the plane even landed.

        • MikeM_inMD says:

          @Shoelace: Not all kids are that perceptive, talkative, or assertive. My 13-year-old can get so wrapped up in a book, she wouldn’t even notice the pilot’s announcement. And at 10, my son wouldn’t have done much talking with a stranger. Each kid is different.

    • jswilson64 says:

      @Shoelace: The whole point of flying UM is that the kid doesn’t HAVE to notice they’re on the wrong flight. The airline is supposed to have ADULTS looking after the MINOR. The airline in this case had people who didn’t do their job.

      Top it off with how some airlines REQUIRE the UM fee, even for some teens who are a lot more mature with the whole traveling process than many adults, and I have not sympathy for the airline whatsoever. They promised a service, didn’t deliver, and then didn’t seem to care.

    • oneandone says:

      @Shoelace: Also, whichever airline employee was supposed to keep an eye on the girl on the flight to Ohio should have noticed the absence of girl, inquired and found out she was checked in,

      I would have hoped this would happen, but I always thought that the unaccompanied minor gets handed off from one staff member to another – someone walks her through the airport, puts her on a plane, and then someone on the plane takes care of her until they land, and she’s handed off again. So without having a constant escort, she’s taken care of during each segment, but it’s not obvious that she’s in the wrong place.

      Or is the fee the family paid supposed to get her someone who stays with her the whole time?

    • dimndgal1 says:

      @Shoelace:
      My step-sister and I flew UM tons when we were younger to visit our respective “other” parent. I was very outspoken and both times I had issues problems come up, I was able to confront the inept employee and resolve the problems. By the time I hit 10, my folks stopped paying the mandatory fee and just let me go — I guess back then there were no mandatory age requirements like there are now.

      My sister, on the other hand, was very meek, didn’t like to cause anyone trouble, and hated confrontation, so she never complained or questioned what was happening. As such, she almost ended up in the Bahamas because of a gate mix-up (supposed to be going to Vegas), and was forgotten in a connecting city and no one noticed until she finally called her dad collect to say “I’m hungry and have been here awhile”. We ended up having to find a family friend to accompany her on her trips because the UM wasn’t reliable and she couldn’t be left alone.

      I was always a skeptic and never trusted that the adults knew what was going on (still don’t), so I knew to watch for things while my sister was too meek and quiet to want to stir the pot. And, in the end, it should never be up to a child to recognize and correct a problem… that’s the point of paying extra fees and the point of these employees having these jobs.

  9. MakinSense...ForOnce_GitEmSteveDave says:

    This sounds a little fishy to me. From what I have seen in the documentary “Unaccompanied Minors” [en.wikipedia.org] , whenever someone is an unaccompanied minor, and their flight gets diverted, or they are stuck in the airport over a holiday, only hilarity and hijinxs ensue. Of course, in the end, everyone learns an important lesson about themselves and everything ends up working out better than if the mix up didn’t occur.

    So why didn’t this happen here?

  10. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    The good news is, at least her luggage arrived in the right place.

    “Sorry, your kid’s in Uganda, but we’ll have her back in two or three weeks.”

  11. chakrabs says:

    You know what, maybe they could have just been good parents and actually accompany their child!

    • egoebelbecker says:

      @chakrabs:

      That’s pretty lame.

      Many kids fly unaccompanied, especially on what should be a routine and short flight from Boston to Cleveland. That’s why there is an “accompanied minor” service that is supposed to guarantee that the child is supervised for the entire flight, properly shepherded on and off the (correct) plane and only released to authorized adults. The Continental staff in Boston and Newark screwed this up in a huge way.

      • GitEmHomerJay! says:

        @egoebelbecker: I don’t feel good about it but I have to sorta agree with chakrabs. With the state of the airlines today, most people don’t trust them with their luggage much less their children. Everybody knows that the airlines are collapsing from within. Why would you think this is a good idea?

        That being said, Continental STILL screwed the pooch badly here and owes them WAY more than a fee refund.

        • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

          @GitEmHomerJay!: I personally would be terrified to put my child on a flight alone, but I’m a giant worry-wart. (And he’s 24 days old.) But in divorced families with shared custody, it’s extremely common, and it would often be impractical or impossible for one parent to ALWAYS fly with the child in a shared custody arrangement where the child is flying cross-country 12 times a year.

          And THAT being said, you can’t protect a child from everything, and you can’t accompany them everywhere. A friend of mine had her son start kindergarten this year. He takes the bus. 4 p.m. comes, the bus arrives, she’s waiting at the stop, and THE SCHOOL HAS LOST HER CHILD AND HE IS NOT ON THE SCHOOL BUS. The bus driver did not think this was important and refused to radio in, and it took seriously an hour to reach anyone at the district who could help her locate her child (who had been put on the wrong bus by an apparently illiterate aide, since the little kids all have their bus routes pinned to them at the beginning of the year).

          This is in a situation that deals EXCLUSIVELY with children and that has MULTIPLE checks to make sure children aren’t misdirected, including “attendance rosters” for the bus. And he still got lost and they still had basically no way of finding him once he was misdirected.

          I mean, really, unless you’re going to handcuff yourself to their wrist for the next 18 years, your minor is going to be unaccompanied a LOT, and not necessarily in the hands of the brightest-watt bulbs.

          • GitEmHomerJay! says:

            @Eyebrows McGee (now with more baby!): You’re right.
            But I still wouldn’t have done it. :)

          • bibliophibian says:

            @Eyebrows McGee (now with more baby!): But in divorced families with shared custody, it’s extremely common, and it would often be impractical or impossible for one parent to ALWAYS fly with the child in a shared custody arrangement where the child is flying cross-country 12 times a year.

            Bingo. Well, except for the 12 times a year part. But I make up for that by having overseas flights involved instead.

            My ex-husband has lived in another state or another country for all but about the first eighteen months of my almost-15-year-old’s life. If my son had not been able to fly UM, he would probably only have seen his dad two or three times in his entire life. I wouldn’t let him fly UM until he was about 8, and even then it was terrifying, but it was less scary than the other travel arrangements his dad wanted to make (i.e., driving from Alabama to the furthest western tip of Texas to pick the child up then turning around and driving back without stopping to sleep).

          • subtlefrog says:

            @Eyebrows McGee (now with more baby!): You wouldn’t put your 24 day old baby on a plane unaccompanied?

            Re. school losing the kid – more common than you think. A friend’s officer husband grabbed a kid from a local elementary for the day, as an exercise. No one at the school noticed he was gone.

            They put their kids into private school.
            (apologies for the slightly OT comment)

      • puka_pai says:

        @egoebelbecker:

        That’s why there is an “accompanied minor” service that is supposed to guarantee that the child is supervised for the entire flight, properly shepherded on and off the (correct) plane and only released to authorized adults.

        My son used to fly from Honolulu to Dallas to visit my parents in the summer. We never had anything terrible happen, but I always worried anyway. Having the FA meet us at the gate and get to know my son a little before flight time was very reassuring.

        As was knowing that at the other end they took the release procedure VERY seriously. Once, my dad got delayed by traffic and so he dropped off my mom while he went to park the car. Mom left her purse in the car (with all ID) and they absolutely wouldn’t release my son to her in spite of his telling them, “That’s my grandma!” We laughed about it then but now it doesn’t seem quite so funny.

    • coren says:

      @chakrabs: Maybe you could have been a good commenter and not blamed the OP

    • pop top says:

      @chakrabs: Hell yeah! Only bad parents send their kids off by themselves to have fun in another state with family members. Only bad parents pay extra money so the airline will assign someone to take care of their child and make sure they get where they need to go.

      Only bad parents use babysitters and nannies. Why not take care of the kid yourself? Jerks.

    • BennyMigrationWitness_GitEmSteveDave says:

      @chakrabs: I mean, yeah, there can’t be any good reason why they wouldn’t fly with their child, i.e. medical, having a jerk for a boss, grandparents paying for the ticket, not enough money for the whole family to enjoy a vacation, so they had a staycation while the child went away, etc…

      They must have been “bad” parents and were sending their kid to Taiwan to smuggle heroin, but lied to Consumerist!

    • JessicaJessica says:

      @chakrabs:

      Wish we could all be as rich as you to be able to miss work and buy multiple airline tickets!! Wait, were you offering?!

    • LostTurntable says:

      @chakrabs: You’re joking right? This is the airline’s fault, I can’t believe anyone is trying to assign blame anywhere else.

    • marike says:

      @chakrabs:

      Good parents put their kid solo on Greyhound!

    • Anonymous says:

      @chakrabs: I spent many summer vacations traveling from Portland, OR to Sacremento, CA as an unaccompanied minor. I’ve flown as a minor to Florida and to London, both with layovers. The flight to Florida was a layover in Denver and the flight to London was a layover in Seattle. My parents weren’t irresponsible for sending me alone, they couldn’t fly with me. Never once did the airline put me or my sisters on the wrong flight. As I continue to read, why the hell are people still flying airlines that aren’t Southwest? You know, the big joke was that they were South Worst, but today, in my mid 20s, I won’t fly any other airline if I’m flying domestic. The one time anything happened to me was on a layover in British Columbia when I was 17. Somehow my sister and I wondered into a restricted area and couldn’t figure out how the hell to get out of it. Finally some airport employees asked us what we were doing and we pretty much told them we were lost. They helped, but the airline we had flown in on, AirFrance, was no help at all as to where our freaking baggage claim was. Obviously, people just need to stop flying crappy airlines and switch to Southwest. They never lost me or any of my other family members.

    • the_wiggle says:

      must be nice to live in your perfect little world where anyone can get time off work anytime & has plenty of $$ for airline tix.

  12. takes_so_little says:

    Refund the fee? Holy fuck. Unbelievable. This is a situation where you go Pop Chips-style overboard with goodwill, IMMEDIATELY. That’s somebody’s kid, you can expect them to be extremely upset. Refund the fee? Lower than where whale shit goes. If the voting for worst company in America was today, I’d vote continental. That’s just stunning.

    You made a mistake, a BAD one, now take responsibility. Or, don’t, and get sued. I’m not one for litigation, but I hope this family sues Continental into bankruptcy.

    • Johnny83 says:

      @takes_so_little: May not take much these days.

    • MisterE says:

      @takes_so_little:
      I’m willing to bet the airline lobbyist have bought enough votes so the airlines are completely void of any responsibility for their actions.

    • EBBlond says:

      @takes_so_little: “I hope this family sues Continental into bankruptcy. “

      To succeed in a lawsuit for alrge figures, you need to show damages. Where is the actual harm? Not inconvenience; actual harm? The airlines aren’t “sued into bankruptcy” when passengers are killed in accidents. Here, you’ve got a child who got lost for a few hours and who probably thought of it as a big adventure. Most kids aren’t terrified by the experience at that age, and she probably just has some good stories to tell her friends now. I agree that the airline needs to make some serious goodwill adjustments on their billing, i.e., coupons for a free flight anywhere for the whole family, but this isn’t a major disaster that requires major compensation.

  13. Cool story bro says:

    Isn’t this where the kid’s supposed to check into some expensive hotel with Daddy’s credit card and thwart some hapless thieves? Story failed to deliver.

  14. OneTrickPony says:

    It took me a while to figure out how this could have even happened, because I’ve flown my kids as unaccompanied minors many times, and the parent not only must accompany them to the gate, but must remain at the gate until the flight has left the ground. So on a direct flight, normally the parent would be there to make sure they were getting on the right plane. But if you’ve got two puddle-hoppers boarding off the same gate using stairs rather than a jetway, it’s apparently possible.

    Add me to those whose mind is boggled by the number of safety checks that must have been blown for someone not to notice this screw-up before the customer brought it to their attention.

    In the realm of also vaguely scary, some airlines (Southwest and United IIRC) allow 12-yos to fly as adults.

    • econobiker says:

      @OneTrickPony: I had to figure this out too. I guess the idea is now to watch the child actually get on the right plane through its door.

      • Quill2006 says:

        @econobiker: As you often have to take one of those awful airline buses to a small plane rather than hopping on right at the gate, watching the child get on the plane from the gate is often impossible.

        All the small airplanes I’ve flown in the US have been parked far from the gate I’ve waited at.

        • OMG! Con Seannery! says:

          @Quill2006: Mine have either been a jetway, a door and some stairs, or, in Salt Lake City, a long hallway and several jets with stairs outside. I remember the first time using the stairs. As a little kid, I thought it was weird as hell to be lower than the plane…

    • Eric Dennis says:

      @OneTrickPony: I may be wrong but in my experience at MANY U.S. airports if you don’t have a ticket you CANNOT enter the gate areas. Wouldn’t that make it impossible for the parent to ensure the child was sent off properly?

  15. AldisCabango says:

    Once again its parents putting the responsibility of caring for their children on others.

    • Bathmat says:

      @AldisCabango: So what you’re saying is: if someone is unfortunate enough to mate with you, producing a child, neither one of you will ever leave the house together. The child will never have a babysitter, friend, or relative take care of him/her. You will never let your child walk to anywhere unattended. You will never let your child go to a public school, since “others” include teachers and principals.

      Yeah, good luck with that.

    • Kid Awesome says:

      @AldisCabango:
      Well there isn’t anything they can do about that. Due to FAA rules you aren’t allowed in the terminals unless you are a paid passenger. By FEDERAL law they aren’t allowed to escorte their kid to the proper plane.

    • TheRealAbsurdist says:

      @AldisCabango: No, this is parents paying a fee, i.e. HIRING the airline, to monitor their kid while she’s flying, a service the airline freely makes available for a fee. I don’t have kids and get tired of parents foisting their responsibility off on others, but your statement is simply colossally stupid.

      @FoxHoundADAM: There are exceptions for cases such as this, escorting handicapped or special needs passengers, etc… The parents could have gotten a pass to accompany their kid to the gate. Regardless, Continental had the responsibility and dropped the ball completely.

    • DrGirlfriend says:

      @AldisCabango: The airline is offering the service, it’s not like parents are dumping kids willy-nilly onto airplanes. If this is too much for them to handle maybe they shouldn’t offer it.

  16. Ally Hill says:

    The “unaccompanied minors” thing that airlines do is a joke. First of all, paying the fee and letting the airport staff handle your kids isn’t optional. Any airline I’ve ever flown with as a kid required children under a certain age(Delta’s is 15, if I recall correctly) to be listed as an unaccompanied minor.

    Secondly, the staff in charge of your kid doesn’t know what the heck’s going on. I flew alone and with my younger sister a few times a year between the ages of 10-15, and most of the time we weren’t helped by anyone. When we did have “assistance” from staff, I was usually the one to tell them the flight number, destination, and even the boarding gate. All they did was follow me over there.

    I usually just walked off without them so I could take off the stupid piece of paper with all my information that we had to have pinned to our shirts.

    • pop top says:

      @Ally Hill: Here’s Delta’s unaccompanied minor policy: “Unaccompanied service is required for all children 5-14 years old when not traveling in the same compartment with an adult at least 18 years old or the child’s parent/legal guardian.” ([www.delta.com])

      Northwest: “Any child age 5 through 14 traveling without an adult 18 years of age or older must participate in the Unaccompanied Minor Program.” ([www.nwa.com])

      JetBlue: “An unaccompanied minor is a child between the ages of 5 and under 14 years traveling alone.” ([help.jetblue.com]))

      And if we’re going with anecdotal evidence, I flew with family a lot when I was young, on multiple airlines (Delta, NWA, SWA, Jet Blue are the first ones that come to mind) and I was never listed as an unaccompanied minor.

  17. willthetech says:

    I agree with “chakrabs”, i see some bad parenting here also, but i guess is just me that thinks that there are too many sickos out there to let any of my kids flight by themselves and have the airline be responsible for them.

    • takes_so_little says:

      @willthetech: Even if you’re right, the airline DID, in a very real and legal way, assume responsibility. They’re completely liable.

    • brettbee says:

      @willthetech: Yes, it’s just you. Stop watching Nancy Grace. Is keeping your kids locked up safe in the basement really better for them?

    • pop top says:

      @willthetech: Where is the bad parenting? Is it the part where they trusted a company to do the simple job of putting a kid on the right flight, which they do hundreds of times a day? Or are you just getting your panties in a bunch because the kid was sent on a trip alone to see her grandparents for summer vacation?

      Next on Dateline, roving bands of child molesters with frequent flier miles!

    • EBBlond says:

      @willthetech: I’m afraid I can’t see where the “bad parenting” is in this case. Despite the fear-mongering of uneducated people, the reality is that “stranger danger” is a vastly overrated and overestimated risk to children. In fact, a recent state study here in Washington State found that 93% of offenses against children involved family, friends, and close acquaintances. That means that only about 7% were strangers, and one could probably build a good argument for leaving children with strangers instead of relatives or neighbors, as they’d be safer. Where are the statistics on children being molested, raped, kidnapped, or attacked while flying unaccompanied on airlines? An airplane is crowded with adults, including trained staff, all of whom are in a position to see what’s going on around them. A child is going to be safer there than playing alone on his own street. Remember — the reason that child abductions and attacks on children by strangers make the headlines is because they’re so rare. If they were anywhere near as commonplace as some folks think, they’d be on the back pages of the papers.

    • Anonymous says:

      @willthetech:

      Do you have a son named Adam by any chance? My boyfriends mother is just like you, she lives her life in constant fear that her children will be hurt. The irony of it, is the only one hurting her kids is her. My boyfriend is 25, and she treats him like he is 6! He lost countless opportunities for amazing experiences as a child, because of his mothers narrow mindedness. It really was just selfish on her part.

      Parents who begrudge their children wonderful experiences, because it gives them a false sense of security are selfish, plan and simple.

  18. SonicMan says:

    How can this happen. There had to be some kind of security mishap. I can not even get on a plane without having my ticket scanned before boarding. If The ticket was scanned, she should not of even gotten on the wrong plane.

    • Coles_Law says:

      @SonicMan: The scan happens at the gate. In this case, two planes were boarding at the same gate-I’m assuming it split after the gate(e.g., 24A and 24B). It’s pretty common with smaller planes and certain airports.

    • Tim says:

      @SonicMan: Maybe it has something to do with the fact that an employee was (supposedly) accompanying her. Like, Continental didn’t think they had to verify anything, because their employees know everything.

  19. HiPwr says:

    It’s less than three hours from Newark to Atlantic City. Why couldn’t the ten-year-old head on over and hit the roullette wheels while she was waiting for this to all be sorted out?

    When life hands you lemons . . .

  20. Tim says:

    It goes without saying how alarming this is, given the fact that this was a 10-year-old girl.

    But it also alarms me that a passenger so easily boarded a different plane than she had a ticket for. So easy in fact, that she didn’t know she was doing it! Just think … how easy is it to board a plane you aren’t ticketed for?

    • magstheaxe says:

      @TCama: This was about ten years ago, but a sales rep at my workplace accidently boarded the wrong plane when she was flying to Minnesota to see her then-boyfriend.

      She flew from Louisville to Cincinnati, and was distracted by a cell phone conversation she was having with a client. She walked up to the boarding area, handed her ticket to the agent, and boarded a plane for Atlantic City. She didn’t realize what had happened until after the plane took off and the pilot announced their ETA over the loudspeaker.

      She freely admits that it was largely her fault, but the airline stated emphatically that the agent at the boarding area should have caught her ticket and directed her to the right flight. Once they landed in Atlantic City, they put her on a plane to Minneapolis (no charge) without incident.

      Of course, this occured prior to all the post-9/11 security measures, so one would think such a thing would be _less_ likely to happen now.

    • econobiker says:

      @TCama: Somewhere in this there is a way to get a cheaper flight to the wrong place…

  21. Courteous_Gentleman says:

    KEVIN!

  22. vastrightwing says:

    I’m shocked they didn’t charge the parents $800 – $1000 to book a last minute flight to the correct destination!

  23. Pasketti says:

    Jonathan Kamens is a net.personality of some note.

    He’s listed a few of the windmills he’s tilted at on his homepage. Most of them are things that most of us probably would have let slide.

    But this one is a something that really is a major screwup. I predict much lulz.

    I also predict that the term “taking this very seriously” will be uttered by someone from Continental and/or the FAA.

  24. bilge says:

    Isn’t one parent allowed to go past security with a minor who’s traveling alone?

    • econobiker says:

      @bilge: You need to re-read it. The parent was with the child to the gate- it is supposed that boardings split two ways beyond the scan of the ticket.

  25. aph3x says:

    I’ve let my 3 kids (9, 9 and 12) fly between Reno and Las Vegas (45 minute flight – whoop) as unaccompanied minors many times. They’ve always flown on Southwest and the Southwest people have never let them out of their sight. They were put at the very front of the plane and constantly asked if everything was OK during the flight. Upon landing the employees were great about making sure everything went smoothly.

    Thats the minimum I expect from an airline when doing the unaccompanied minor thing.

    • yevarechecha says:

      @aph3x: This is what I saw this weekend as well. There was a little boy about 7-8 years old flying unaccompanied on my Northwest flight. He had a little bag with snacks and an activity book, and largely entertained himself at the gate watching planes take off and people-watching, but there was a flight attendant with him and she never went more than a few feet away from him. At one point she was talking with other crew members and he walked over and told her he wanted to go look at the Arrivals/Departures monitors, and she stopped her conversation and took him over to see the screens. She boarded with him even before the first-class passengers and brought him off at the end and out of the security area to his parents. I don’t know how enthused she was by the baby-sitting job, but she was very watchful and attentive.

      I would be comfortable sending my child with such a flight attendant, but it sounds like she may be the exception and not the rule.

    • Barbara Campbell says:

      The way it should be>aph3x:

  26. SacraBos says:

    Okay, I thought those unaccompanied minors had these large name-tag like things around their necks that showed the destination airport code in large letters, the same code you find on luggage. That should have been a big clue to the greeting flight attendant (who the gate agent should have personally handed off to) and the staff in NJ on arrival.

    Due to that, don’t let an unaccompanied minor fly to Fresno Air Terminal (FAT) or they might get a complex.

    • Damocles57 says:

      @SacraBos:
      The problem with a big sign identifying an unaccompanied minor is that everyone now knows they are unaccompanied. It’s sad to think a sign like that would make a person a target.

      Years ago when I flew United in their quality days, I watched a UM get a “special” pair of wings to put on her shirt and the check-in person marked her ticket with some code.

      As we were on the same flight, I saw at each point the staff notice the special wings and the ticket code and they were actually very attentive before, during and after the flight. The girl was hand delivered to an adult after landing.

      And, if memory serves, the airlines didn’t charge extra for this service. I still remember United’s Champagne Flights where all adults were offered free champagne, meals with your choice of hot entrees, and pleasant experiences at the airport and on the plane.

      Those were the days….

  27. Anonymous says:

    I had this happen to me years ago (think 1970’s) It was worse back then because no one had cellphones and my grandparents were at the airport. Interestingly enough it was also from Boston.

    I am honestly still remember it like it was yesterday and it bubbles up everytime i have to fly. It was me and younger brother. My mom and dad were flying to Europe and just before their flight left my mom put us on a flight to florida. Back then they barely looked at your ticket so while yes we were on a plane to Florida this one was going to Orlando not West Palm. The stewards figured it out mid flight and took us to the Crown Room (or whatever it was called for good old Eastern Airline) tried calling every number they had- that no one was at home to answer, fed us ginger ale and peanuts and finally just put us on the next flight to WPB. My grandparents did put up a stink by way of snail mail but eventually everyone but me let it die.

  28. pot_roast says:

    I can only speak for AirTran’s Unaccompanied Minor forms, but they’re quite detailed. The reservation is noted with the escort on departure person, the escort on arrival person, valid contact numbers for both, and they must present photo ID at all points. The envelope itself has the same contact information, and it must match what’s in the reservation. The envelope also has flight numbers, city pairs, and it has to be signed off by the gate agent who will personally accompany the child down to the aircraft and into the seat and introduce the child to the flight attendants. The lead F/A will also sign the envelope after re-verifying all of that information. The child also gets an unaccompanied minor wristband, and an AirTran employee will escort the child to & from the gate if a connection is required.

    Continental dropped the ball on this one. At least they should refund the fee and cough up a couple free round trip tickets.

  29. Bertmanintx says:

    Look at the extra freq flyer miles she’s getting…

  30. gafpromise says:

    I always loved the story about a father who was sending his daughter as an Unaccompanied Minor to Japan. Sorry I don’t remember all the details. There was a problem with booking the ticket, which involved both American and Japanese airlines. So the American airline charged an Unaccompanied Minor fee and then tried to pay the Japanese airline their portion. Problem was, the Japanese airline’s computer system wasn’t set up to accept such a fee, because they didn’t charge that fee. They figured it was only common sense and basic decency to see that a minor was looked after and it wasn’t their policy to charge a fee for such a thing.

  31. The_Souljourner says:

    I can’t believe anyone is saying this has anything to do with bad parenting. The airline has this service specifically advertised as a safe way to let kids fly without their parents. He PAID them for this service. They failed utterly, in ways that should have been impossible in this day and age. Continental should be crawling on their knees begging forgiveness, not just offering to refund the damn fee.

    It’s not like he dropped her off at the curb and said “good luck”. He did absolutely everything right that he should have, and they still managed to botch the job.

    It sounds like there are at least 3 major failings in procedure here -

    1.) You should never allow two planes to board on one gate, without making sure the right people are getting on the right plane.
    2.) You should always check that the number of people that are supposed to be on the plane, are *actually* on the plane.
    3.) You should always double check that any unaccompanied minor is ON THE RIGHT FLIGHT.

  32. mikeycav says:

    My father worked for Delta for 40 years. He tells a great story during the 60’s that an Italian pair of siblings got stuck at O’Hare due to weather. They spoke no English and he was the supervisor on call and happened to speak Italian. He housed the pair in my family’s house for the night then got them on their final destination the next day.

    Are these Continental employees robots? How can they not have some situational awareness or COMPASSION seeing a 10-year old alone on a plane? This goes beyond poor service, but into the realm of negligence human existence!

  33. axiomatic says:

    I have combat this easily before. Have the child take down the name and employee number of everyone they talk too. When something goes wrong you not only sue the airline, but the employee as well. Never had to do this because the trick is that if the employee KNOWS that the kid just took down all their info, the employee seems to WANT to do EVERYTHING by the book because they know the kid is recording the names of everyone involved.

    Continental should be bending over backwards to make this family happy right now.

  34. Skaperen says:

    So did they drive all the way to Newark to pick her up?

  35. Meathamper says:

    This is eerily like Home Alone… well, one of them, anyway.

  36. mikemil828 says:

    Pretty much par for the course in my experience. One time my older sister and I were flying to Boston with a stop in Dallas Ft. Worth, unaccompanied. Anyway after we arrived in Dallas, we were led by the oh so helpful American Airlines employee to a cart so we could be driven over to the gate to Boston (which for some reason was on the other side of the airport), told us to wait there for someone to come by to drive us there, then promptly went off to get lunch, 30 minutes later no one showed up, with 45 minutes before our next flight left, we decided to screw it and walked there. There we were, a 11 and 13 year old loaded down with carry-on luggage having to walk across the 3rd largest airport in the world because American Airlines simply didn’t care. Luckily we managed to make it to our flight in time, however we never flew unattended after that.

  37. mcnerd85 says:

    That poor baby! They better have gave her a free whatever-the-fuck you want shopping spree in all the damn airport stores. Even worse though it’s Newark…by the time she gets home she’ll probably know how to cook rock and murder someone with a toothbrush shank.

  38. dotyoureyes says:

    One note: The FAA is the wrong place to send your complaint — they only care about safety and policies that pertain to actual operation of aircraft.

    The correct federal complaint form comes from the Department of Transportation:

    [airconsumer.ost.dot.gov]

  39. Skater009 says:

    airlines just do not care anymore , you cannot trust them.

  40. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    Amazing. Two flights got their passenger counts wrong and still took off.

  41. chrissv says:

    Chances are there is some clause in the phonebook-size terms and conditions which indemnifies the airlines from all harm etc. etc. if/when something like this happens, and you agree to hold them harmless etc. etc. etc.

  42. Ronin-Democrat says:

    Please don’t blame the parents.
    The airline provides a service -unaccompanied minor- and the parent took advantage of it instead of paying for a total of four tickets to, from, to, from cleveland which may just have been to cost of the horse camp this parent is sending his daughter to -and a visit to grandparents to boot-.
    So he seems like a well meaning on top of things parent.

    Is he suppossed to stay at the horse camp too????

  43. Petra says:

    I can remember this nearly happening to me when I was little…I was about nine or ten, and traveling from Missouri to Washington with my little sister. My parents paid to have someone escort us to the gate when we made a changeover…she left us by the gate and told us the plane would be there soon. Ten minutes before takeoff, the plane still wasn’t there and we were the only ones sitting by the gate. I even asked the woman at the counter and she said that according to her chart, this gate was the one we were meant to be at (when I asked where the plane was, she shrugged and said she didn’t know…boy that was helpful!). Turns out, they changed the gate for departure from what was on our tickets and it wasn’t until someone on the intercom called our names for last boarding call that we ran across the airport and barely made it. They didn’t have an explanation for why neither woman I spoke with seemed to know there had been a change in gates.

    But this was over ten years ago…I would think in this day and age that there would be no way someone could get on a different flight than the one on their ticket…I mean, they check each ticket WITH identification now…or at least they pretend to!

  44. amuro98 says:

    I’m still confused why they had 2 different flights boarding out of the same gate?

    What were they thinking? Are airports really that crowded?

    And aren’t unaccompanied minors supposed to be personally accompanied onto the plane and officially turned over to the flight staff? There weren’t enough details given, but it sounds like all sorts of lawsuit-grade FAIL occurred here.

    I remember one time I was flying back to San Jose, CA. The idiots at the airport thought it’d be a neat idea to have my flight boarding right next to another flight, with a similar number AND the same departure time to San Jose Costa Rica. Brilliant!

    They made numerous announcements on the plane in both English and Spanish that said “we are going to California – not Costa Rica, are you sure you are on the right plane?” Sure enough, every time they made an announcement, 3 or 4 people got off the plane.

    I still don’t know how they even ended up on the wrong plane because the 2 flights had separate gates and gang planks. To get on the wrong flight, you had to hand your ticket to be scanned to the person at the gate, and yet it let them through even though it was the wrong flight.

  45. Anonymous says:

    I really don’t agree with young children flying unaccompanied. My ex lives on the other side of the country and he wants me to fly my 8 year old daughter unaccompanied to visit him. I may end up going to court to stop this but I wish there was a precedent against it. I couldn’t live with myself if something happened and I can’t imagine an 8 year old entertaining themselves on a long flight. I’ve never seen any airlines staff pay any atention to unaccompanied minors. Parents: just don’t do it.

  46. CalebApplesauce says:

    Was this guy so busy that he couldn’t walk his daughter to the gate?

    Yeah–the gate itself. You can request to escort your child to the actual departure gate just like in the days before 9/11. Had he done that, this entire nonsense could have been avoided.

  47. dequeued says:

    Oh wow, same thing happened to me!

    When I was 14, I went to space camp, and when I was flying back, my parents were expecting to pick me up in LaGuardia.
    But that flight was delayed, and the staff asked me if I would be like a flight to Newark, or if I would like to wait five hours for a flight to LGA.
    So of course I agreed to the flight to Newark, assuming that my parents would be informed.
    When I got to Newark, the airline crew whisked me out the exit gate into the waiting area, where there were a few news stands, and some homeless people sleeping.

    Luckily I had some change and found a payphone and remembered my mom’s cell phone number.
    But when they finally picked me up two hours later, they told me no one had informed them of where I was, and that the airline staff at LGA blamed them and threatened to call security if they didn’t stop asking questions.

  48. Anonymous says:

    I work as a airline duty manager for an airline that will remain unnamed, but if that situation where to happen on my shift, id offer full refund for everything and then some (and the airline wouldn’t fire me for it because its PR off there asses for few hundred bucks)

    Bottom line though i’ve been in the industry for 4 years and i’ve seen it happen with a full grown adult looking after himself (only the once)

  49. deadspork says:

    If you think that anyone, anywhere, at any time is going to care as much about your minor child as you do, you are sorely and sadly mistaken. I wouldn’t put my CAT on a plane to be tended to by the airline let alone a child. Seriously.

    Not saying it’s his fault, they offer the service and he should be able to trust them to follow through and not LOSE his 10-year-old daughter. I’m just glad she ended up safe and wasn’t abducted or something in transit.

  50. Barbara Campbell says:

    There are VERY clear guidelines as to procedure with UMs. There is always a paper trail.

    As a parent, I’m livid, as a Flight attendant I’m embarrassed & ashamed for ALL who dropped this very BIG ball and then let it keep rolling.

  51. sharkzfanz says:

    We hear so many stories about airlines now adays this one was truly scary.

  52. Anonymous says:

    allegent air left my son (10) in Chicago. He was on a flight from denver to central Il. and transfered through Chicago. We also paid the extra fee. The worst was when they found him, I asked if he was hungry and he said yes. I asked the person on the other end to get him some food since he had to wait 5 hours for the next flight and they didn’t even get him a drink.

  53. Jonathan Kamens says:

    It’s astounding how many people express an opinion without first bothering to make sure they know what the hell they’re talking about.

    I did, in fact, escort my daughter all the way to the correct gate. I handed her and her paperwork off to the gate agent and watched the gate agent take her down the ramp and put her onto a plane.

    It was the wrong plane. If you can suggest some way how I might have known that, I’m all ears.

    Some have said that I should have taken her onto the plane and checked myself that it was the right one. First of all, that was never offered to me as an option by the airline. Second, even if it had been, I’m not sure I would have seen it as necessary, since it never would have occurred to me in a million years that two flights would be boarded at the same time from the same gate, let alone that a gate agent would be so stupid as to put my child on the wrong plane and then the flight crew would be so stupid as to not check her paperwork or notice that she wasn’t listed on the manifest. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to live my entire life assuming that everyone around me is a moron and I have to do absolutely everything myself or it’s going to go wrong.

    And, by the way, one of the points of allowing our daughter to fly unattended was because she is old enough to have that small amount of independence and responsibility, and I don’t think that message would have been conveyed particularly well if I had treated her like a child half her age by walking her onto the plane myself. My wife wrote a great piece on this idea which you can read on my blog should you care to do so.

    For those who say that my daughter should have noticed she was on the wrong plane, you’re right. I wish she had, and you can be sure that both she and we have learned that the next time we have to let one of our children fly unaccompanied, that’s one of the things we will make SURE they know. But again, it never would have occurred to me in a million years that this would be an issue, and it in no way absolves the airline of responsibility for what they did, and the whole point of charging an unaccompanied minor fee is that they are making you pay them extra in exchange for promising to TAKE CARE OF YOUR CHILD, not send her to the wrong friggin’ city. Not to mention that there’s a damn good chance that if she had noticed she was on the wrong plane and spoken up about it, the flight crew would have told her to sit down and shut up.