American Airlines,Airlines for America,Unaccompanied minor,Flight attendant

Kids On A Plane — What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

November 6, 2016
in Kids

It’s a story that Carrie Calzaretta’s 14-year-old son, Tyler, will probably tell his kids someday. This summer, the Calzarettas paid American Airlines an extra $300 for their son to fly round-trip as an unaccompanied minor in order to join a 10-day educational tour of Belize. When thunderstorms delayed his flight from Miami to Newark, the airline offered to re-book him for the next morning — but not to provide a hotel room for the night. According to Calzaretta, the airline had subcontracted its escort duties to another company and the two parties couldn’t agree on what to do about Tyler. Related: Frequently asked questions about resolving a consumer dispute or complaint “Each blamed the other,” says Calzaretta, a writer who lives in Brielle, N.J. “Ultimately, they threw him on a last-minute, late-night flight to avoid him having to sleep on the floor of the airport. “We had to pick him up in the wee hours and in a total panic.” American says that Tyler Calzaretta’s flight was delayed three hours, but he flew to Newark on the same flight he’d been booked on. “American cares deeply about our young passengers and is committed to providing a safe and pleasant travel experience for them,” says Ross Feinstein, an airline spokesman. Calzaretta remembers it differently. “It was horrific,” she says. The same word could be used to describe several recent high-profile incidents involving unaccompanied minors. An Oregon man was charged with sexual assault in June after a flight attendant said she saw him abusing a 13-year-old girl flying alone from Dallas to Portland, Ore., on American Airlines. In September, JetBlue Airways reportedly confused two 5-year-olds traveling from the Dominican Republic. As a result, a boy who was supposed to go to New York City ended up in Boston, and a boy traveling to Boston was sent to New York City. The airline industry says it is taking incidents like these seriously. “The safety and well-being of all our passengers — especially children — is and will remain our highest priority,” says Jean Medina, a spokeswoman for Airlines for America, an industry group. “Airline employees rely on their extensive customer service training to ensure that children traveling alone are well cared for and have the...

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