Unaccompanied Minor Ends Up in Wrong State After Airline Switches Flight

By Jade A. Williams

Dec 22, 2011 1:11am

What was supposed to be a normal flight to visit her grandparents for the holidays turned into a confusing mix-up for nine-year-old Chloe Boyce.

The girl’s itinerary was originally supposed to send her from Nashville, Tenn. to LaGuardia Airport airport in New York, making a stop in Baltimore, Maryland along the way. Due to a fog condition, a two hour connection in Columbus, Ohio was added to the flight. This is where confusion set in for Chloe.

“Chloe often flies by herself to see her grandparents in Connecticut, or her dad in Rhode Island. We always use Southwest,” says Chloe’s mother, Elena Kerr.

“Whenever she flies alone, we go up to a ticket agent, and the ticket agent goes over the rules with her,” Kerr said. “We always go over how many stops there will be.”

Chloe knew that this time, two stops were to be made, with the second one being her destination in New York. When Chloe arrived at the new third stop in Baltimore she got off the plane.

Kerr received a call from her sister who was supposed to pick up Chloe at the airport.

“Where is Chloe?” her sister asked. “I went into panic mode.”

She called the airline, and after 30 minutes of waiting she finally got a hold of someone. She was told that she was sent e-mails with the new details of her daughter’s flight.

“I never received a call or e-mail to say what happened to my daughter,” Kerr says.

The airline outlined their policy in this situation, stating that although it is atypical, they attempted to inform the girl’s parents of her new itinerary.

“Our unaccompanied minor policy does not include the contacting of guardians when a flight is delayed or rerouted but we typically do our best to keep guardians notified when a disruption in scheduled service occurs,” the airline said. “Unfortunately, we did not connect with the parents of the customer traveling in this situation. We are in the process of conducting our own internal investigation to identify why the additional outreach was not made. We apologize for any concern that the flight disruption may have caused.”

Chloe ended up spending an extra three hours in Baltimore. It wasn’t completely terrible for her, though. Kerr says that once alerted to the situation, a pilot in Baltimore took Chloe off the plane and worked to make her feel at ease.

“He made her feel comfortable, and bought her Chili’s for dinner,” Kerr says.

Kerr says she is debating on whether or not to let her daughter fly Southwest again.

“Southwest was very apologetic,” she says, adding that has never had a problem with the airline in the past. Still, she says “no one has been able to tell me why I wasn’t called.”

“We realize families place their trust in us when we transport loved ones of all ages and we take that trust very serious,” the airline said. ” Of course, our younger customers are extremely precious and we want to do everything in our power to make sure they are comfortable and safe when traveling.

“Again, we were focused on getting the passenger to her final destination as soon as we could safely do so. We realize the situation was delicate and we’ve issued the family a refund for the ticket and an additional voucher as a gesture of goodwill. Hopefully their next flight experience will be more positive, including clear skies and an on time arrival,” Southwest said in a statement to ABC News.

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