Apparently this over-the-top “protection” of their unaccompanied child passengers only extends to treating male passengers like potential pedophiles; and not to actually supervising the kids themselves. This is how United Airlines managed to “lose” a 10-year-old girl during a connection in Chicago – and then refused to do anything about it.
“We dropped our 10-year old Phoebe at the San Francisco airport on Saturday, June 30th for her first flight as an unaccompanied minor,” wrote father Perry Klebahn to United Airlines in a strongly worded letter of complaint. “She was traveling through Chicago to Traverse City, Michigan to summer camp for two weeks.”
“We waited for the call from camp that she arrived safely. That call did not come. Instead we received a frantic call from the camp that Phoebe was not on the flight, nor did the United person in Traverse City know why she was not on the flight.”
It turned out that 10-year-old Phoebe got “lost” during her connection in Chicago – and, according to her father, United Airlines didn’t care.
“She landed and no one came to get her,” Perry wrote. “The attendants were busy and could not help her she told us. She told them she had a flight to catch to camp and they told her to wait. She asked three times to use a phone to call us and they told her to wait. When she missed the flight she asked if someone had called camp to make sure they knew and they told her “yes—we will take care of it”. No one did. She was sad and scared and no one helped.”
This horrible story just goes to show that the real danger to unaccompanied minors on flights doesn’t come from male strangers who might be sitting next to them – but from airline staff who fail spectacularly in their role of supervising these young passengers.