Someday I'm going to send my son off on an airplane as an unaccompanied minor. I'm not planning on it next week, but he has friends living in other states who have asked him to visit. And I'm starting to wrap my head around the idea that this is a perfectly safe way for kids to travel.
So it really does not bolster my confidence when I read a story like this one: An airline LOST a 10-year-old girl. And the kicker? The airline employees acted like they couldn't care less. Writer Bob Sutton tells this harrowing tale on his blog -- and it just might make you think twice about letting your child fly as an unaccompanied minor, at least with this airline.
Annie and Perry Klegahn tried to send their daughter Phoebe from San Francisco to Grand Rapids via United Airlines. Because the assigned escort just never showed up to help Phoebe with her transfer at Chicago, she missed her connection to Grand Rapids. Phoebe kept asking United employees for help and none of them helped her. She kept asking to use a phone and they kept telling her to wait.
Hours later the camp Phoebe was going to noticed that she did not arrive, so they called Annie and Perry. The parents tried to call the airline and totally got the run-around, from the call center in India to getting put on hold -- no one would help them!
Finally they reached an employee at the Chicago airport, but she said she wouldn't help them because her shift was over. Perry asked her if she was a parent. She said, "Yes." Annie says:
He then asked her if she was missing her child for 45 minutes what would she do? She kindly told him she understood and would do her best to help. Fifteen minutes later she found Phoebe in Chicago and found someone to let us talk to her and be sure she was okay.
OMG, 15 minutes of this woman's life, and she only helped because Perry appealed to her as a PARENT. Anyway, there are more horrifying details to the story (lost luggage, PR shenanigans) and the Kleghans finally ended up writing a letter to the CEO of United.
But it really makes you wonder if you can really trust anyone with your child's safety. If the adults who work for the company won't help her, you're screwed. We're all screwed! Why wouldn't you help a lost child? Honestly. I think if I let my son fly alone, I'd send him with a cellphone, but that's not the point. This airline seriously let a family down -- and that airline is made up of several individuals who each suffer from "Not My Jobism" and wouldn't do the humane, decent thing. I think all of us parents want a better for our kids.
Have you ever let your kid fly as an unaccompanied minor?
Image via Sh4rp_i/Flickr