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)