Another airline screwup you just will NOT believe: Continental puts my unaccompanied minor daughter on the wrong plane!

I took my ten-year-old daughter to Boston Logan Airport this morning to put her on a Continental flight to Cleveland, where my in-laws live, as an unaccompanied minor.  The gate agent took all the paperwork and escorted my daughter down the jetway, and then proceeded to put her on the wrong airplane. There were two flights on the tarmac being boarded through the same gate, and the gate agent put her on the flight to Newark rather than the flight to Cleveland.

No one on the Cleveland flight crew noticed that my daughter, who was listed as an unaccompanied minor on the manifest, wasn’t on the plane.  No one on the Newark flight crew noticed that they had an extra passenger not listed on the manifest, or that an unexpected unaccompanied minor had been boarded, or that the paperwork accompanying my daughter spelled out in big, clear letters that she was supposed to be going to a different city.

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.

But this isn’t about the money.  It’s mind-boggling how many people must have failed to do their jobs properly for this to be able to happen.  Furthermore, surely numerous FAA regulations must been violated, e.g., surely flight crews are required to positively verify that the number of passengers on the manifest matches the number of passengers on the plane.  And this has all sorts of implications for airport security — if someone can buy a ticket for a regional jet flight, go down the jetway to the tarmac, and then sneak behind a pillar and hide rather than boarding the plane, and no one on the flight crew notices that a passenger has disappeared, then doesn’t that person now have essentially free rein over the entire airport tarmac?

I’ve been told that my daughter was put on a flight out of Newark scheduled to land in Cleveland in less than an hour.  We’ll see if they got it right this time.

Print Friendly

Tags: , , ,

150 Responses to “Another airline screwup you just will NOT believe: Continental puts my unaccompanied minor daughter on the wrong plane!”

  1. YAZ says:

    WAO, this is very wrongful and Im with you folk that the Continental Crew did a very BIG Mistake, HOWEVER I still dont get how PARENTS still allow their CHILDREN of ages 12yrs and younger to FLY alone without one of the parents being there,,, I understand the circumstances call for one or the two parents to do it, and is a big responsability for any airline or business that wants to be responsible for your child of that age…. they do charge lots of money for that service as well,,,, call me crazy but being a MOTHER of TWO Boys I dont ever send them on a PLANE or a BUS (unless is a school trip and Im a volunteer) ALONE…..

  2. [...] employees. The child’s grandparents were waiting to pick her up in Cleveland. But M… ended up in Newark, [...]

  3. Cara says:

    To add to my angst is what happened with your daughter – my daughter is leaving on Saturday from MA to KY via OH. Prayers for her safe flight and arrival are appreciated.

  4. Flo says:

    Besides the childs safety… and the worries if the parents, already discussed widely here: I think everyone with children would be furious…

    => there is a real safety issue here. How can a flight leave without all passengers on board (but take their luggage)? Even in times of suicide attacks this is? should be basic operational procedure???

  5. John555 says:

    Express Jet failed on so many different levels by sending this child to the wrong city. The most important thing here is that the child was never in any danger. The parents paid for an UM ticket and the child was never unoccupanied. I’m not saying what the airline did wasn’t wrong. Believe me I am a parent and I would be VERY UPSET that my shild was delayed getting to me- but I would also respect the fact that my child was safe the entire time. It is not as if the child was wondering around the terminal alone. Again, ExpressJet dropped the ball- no excuses– but thankfully the kid was never in any danger.

  6. Earl says:

    Lawrence Kelner, CEO of Continental Airlies is reported to have had his compensation “slashed” to around 5 million per year for 2009. Perhaps if he were to pay from his own pocket everytime the airline under his direction screwed up service would improve?

    As a long-time flyer, I know that airlines have dramatically reduced service on flights in an effort to sustain EBIT. Unfortunately, cutting salaries and increasing hours for flight attendants, gate agents and pilots results in this type of failure more frequently. I hold executive management responsible for putting in place conditions that not only allow but promote work-arounds to meet deadlines. And we all know the only way to get to managements attention is with money. My guess is that $75 isn’t going to grab their attention.

    Put the screws to them!

  7. jik says:

    Please give an update to let us know how your daughter is! She might have been frightened when no one arrived to pick her up.

    Thaks for asking. She’s just fine. This incident affected us much more than it affected her.

  8. [...] issue of unaccompanied minors has come into the news lately, courtesy of Jonathan Kamens. Kamens put his daughter M… on a flight to Cleveland out of Boston on Sunday to visit her [...]

  9. rosa says:

    Please give an update to let us know how your daughter is! She might have been frightened when no one arrived to pick her up.

  10. jik says:

    but I am sure that whatever the amount, it is insufficient when considering the immeasurable worth of our children.

    The fee has nothing to do with the “worth” of our children. The fee has to do (or, at least, it should) with the specific services performed for the unaccompanied minor over and above the services that would be performed for any other passenger.

    When an unaccompanied minor my daughter’s age, i.e., a minor who does not require constant supervision, flies, the extra services performed for that child when things are done properly don’t take more than a few minutes — fill out some extra paperwork, escort the child onto and off of the flight, talk to him/her for a couple of minutes about what will happen on the flight, check on him/her a few times during the flight, and check IDs when handing off the child to the people picking him/or up at the destination.

    When it’s done properly, an unaccompanied minor is in no more danger than a child with a babysitter in his/her own home, so it’s irrational to say that the fee for putting an unaccompanied minor on a flight should be anything more than what would would pay a babysitter.

    There was a time when none of the airlines charged an additional fee for unaccompanied minors, and they all invested more effort and did a better job of looking after them. With this service, as with so many others, the airlines have added fees while decreasing the actual service performed.

    Welcome to the “service economy.” Not!

  11. andy says:

    hmm….. apparently you guys had a better time flying when you were younger than i did. my parents let me start flying solo when i was 12!!!! I’m 28 now.no stewardess/airline companion for me…. you’d think they’d at least ask if i was ok or something but nope.

    to the parent:
    i feel your concern, but maybe depending on how old your children are they could start flying by themselves…

  12. heath says:

    I am afraid I have to both agree and disagree with the post by Rob. I agree completely with his opinion that if a company offers a service and charges a fee for it they should be financially responsible for their inability to fulfill their end of the contract. I am not sure what the additional fee is for the unaccompanied minor status for a passenger, but I am sure that whatever the amount, it is insufficient when considering the immeasurable worth of our children. I have seen posts that suggest the fee was $75, or that was the amount that was offered to one of the parents who chose to put their 10 year old daughter on a plane alone. Why would anyone pay $75 and hope to recieve a service that exceeded the value of their payment? To accompany my own child to their destination would never be considered a waste of money, their value exponentially exceeds the price of any ticket!

  13. Rob says:

    Anybody implying it is the parents’ fault for not flying with their children are a bunch of ignoramuses. Why would parents fly with a child if they weren’t going to be going on the trip with them? It’s a waste of money. Children fly unaccompanied all of the time.

    If a company offers a service, why aren’t they liable for the mistake when the service goes awry? Why is it the victim’s fault?

    Ugh….

  14. Dave G, Los Angeles says:

    They did somthing almost as bad to my two sons several years ago. The boy’s(10 and 12) flight arrived late from LA to Chicago missing the connection to Cleveland. Continental had the audacity to put them on standby for a full flight….twice in a row! The third and last flight for that day was also full and they again insisted on putting them on standby telling me they had no other option. I was told if they missed that flight, I would have to arrange for their overnight stay and supervision in Chicago at my expense and that they could not assist me. I made it clear that that was not acceptable and they still insisted. No one from the airline even bothered to call me and I only found out when my son and his mother both called me after five hours and having been denied boarding on the second flight. I was repeatedly lied to by staff and only after threatening to call everyone from the FAA to local news to the Chicago PD did they bother to get them seats on the last flight. Two children unaccompanied and unsupervised in an airport fo 9 hours and all Continental would do was refund the unacompanied minor fee. Never fly Continental!!!

  15. John says:

    I know where you’re coming from.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nHf3CNFB3PY

  16. Mary says:

    This happened with my 13 yr old AUTISTIC son just this past spring with UNITED.
    He was bound for Chicago from Knoxville, TN. Same thing: two planes at the same gate. He was put on a plane headed for D.C!

    United apologized… I sent letters… was told by higher ups that people were disciplined and that it wouldn’t happen again. Blah, blah, blah. I hope they follow through. We don’t want that nightmare to happen to any other families.
    I was horrified this morning to hear that it’s happened yet again. I am so sorry!

    This is not only trauma for the children and parents involved… but you’re right, this is also a HUGE security issue.

  17. Jilly says:

    My son was lost by an airline in an airport in Ft. Myers, Florida a year and a half ago, it was horribly upsetting. The airline just apologized!

  18. Rachel says:

    I just read this story and it really hit home for me because I’m a mom and my in-laws are constantly suggesting I send my sons on an airplane by themselves to visit them (in Europe!). My boys are 6 & 4.

    When I was 15 years old, I traveled alone for the first time from Newark to Miami to visit a family friend. On the return trip home, the friend dropped me off at the airport and left. Just as I got to the gate, I discovered they had overbooked the flight and I was not allowed on. I was told by a very insensitive airline employee that I would have to wait 5 hours for the next flight. I was in tears, and no one seemed to care that I was a minor, sitting alone in the airport all that time. Meanwhile my mother was frantic in Newark. That happened when I was 15…I can’t imagine how scary it would be for an 8 or 10 year old (the 2 girls Continental put on wrong flights).

    While I’m in no way blaming parents for allowing their children to fly alone, I think (based on my previous experience) that airlines aren’t going to give your child the care and attention they deserve. I hope this story has given parents something to think about.

  19. [...] Continental reportedly could not figure out where the girl was for nearly an hour, according to a blog entry by the girl’s father. Later it was reported that the airline offered to refund the fare and fly her back to Boston in [...]

  20. JJ says:

    I used to fly alone all the time as a child. I’m 33 years old now, but I remember a kind flight attendant always being by my side and checking on me constantly and even waiting for my relatives to pick me up. I never got lost once and I traveled frequently. Times sure have changed.

  21. Morgan says:

    That really stinks, and goes to show just how bad things have got. Hope you daughter is able to forget this mess.

    As a child, I flew Continental every summer from the age of 7-14 as an UAM from Cleveland to El Paso to visit my family and friends left behind when we moved to Ohio. I didn’t ever experience a single ‘hiccup.’ My memory is a bit hazy, but there was paperwork and ticket checking at every step from the moment I got to the gate to the moment I got off.

    I was younger, I usually got to sit in the cockpit with the other while we waited for the plane to finish boarding. Bumped up to first class when a seat was available, which for a kid who wanted to stare out the window he could of cared less about. I also got free junk, plastic wings and neat tours of the airport and behind the scenes goings-ons during long layovers in Houston. Can you imagine the airline, crew or TSA allowing that at all today… it’s all gone down hill, and it aint coming back.

  22. Kevin says:

    Continental’s string of errors is outrageous, and the complete lack of empathy from a handful of folks here is appalling. Not that that’s anything new.

    You seem to have everything well in hand and are pretty rational about the ordeal. Glad that events didn’t get worse than they did. (And nice to recognize a former Athena person in the news, just not for this reason.) Best of luck to all.

  23. Amy says:

    The same thing came close to happening to my brother and I almost 25 years ago. While flying from Shreveport, Louisiana, to Wichita, Kansas, we changed planes in Dallas/Ft. Worth. As unaccompanied minors, we were taken by a flight attendant to the next gate. She also had two other children to drop off. I asked what gate our flight was to leave from so I would know where we were going. As we passed that gate and dropped off the other two children, I thought maybe she just read the wrong ticket. However, a flight attendant from that gate came running after us a few minutes later yelling that she had the wrong kids! We almost ended up in Orange County! Suffice it to say that my parents decided I was adept enough to handle traveling without the airlines’ help after that!

    I wish the airline would have given you more than your $75 back. You surely deserved it. Hope your daughter coped with the whole situation well!

  24. Neal says:

    Sorry K.B. didn’t mean the City of Houston or the folks of houston. Just meant continental with home base houston. An airline can do better.

  25. Hope says:

    To add further comment: Any airline employee past or present should be ashamed to have any type of respond other than O.M.G – I am so sorry. If they didn’t they either don’t have children which for us is a blessing or they are so self consumed with their own agenda that they should not be doing anything pertaining to Customers/safety/ customer service….They should be picking up trash (not to insult the trash people) however- at least they (ME Says) have over stayed their welcome and benefits and salaries to move on. Get a different job. I/we are tired of the excuses that they airlines have everytime they make a mistake.

  26. Hope says:

    un-fricken believable!!! I am still anxious about this story and they were not even my kids. The airlines will never be successful with the lack of training, poor personal and lack of compassion they have towards paying customers. In this case it really is not about the money and THANKFULLY the child is ok. If the ending came out differently this story would have been on every new’s station, every news paper and this would just be the beginning of something that should never happen to begin with. Someone was just so lazy that they did not take the extra time to make sure that child was on the correct flight, probably because they just did not care. I am so sorry for the child and her family. I am glad she is safe and back home with her family and not some crazy person. (the airlines) I wish the family a great a safe summer. My advise- drive or take a train. The airlines can’t get it together for a fun and safe adventure.

  27. K.B. says:

    neal says:
    June 16, 2009 at 10:08 am
    “Houston we got this one wrong.”

    Um…exactly how neal? I don’t think it has anything to do with a city. I have an insurance policy with a company in Boston who screwed thousands of Houstonians and got away with it because of Barney Frank. Now, is the city of Boston and it’s residents responsible for that? NO.

    So if you want to take responsibility for it, be my guest, but leave the city out of it.

  28. Laura says:

    I fully understand your anger with them and the concept it’s not about money but of gross negligence, laziness, and just being STUPID.

    I didn’t put my kid on a plane and have him sent to a wrong city. My 6 week old son at the time went in to the ER for RSV. Now RSV in a healthy adult or an older child—it’s a pain in the ass, lingering cold. But in a 6 week old baby? It can be fatal. Yet the desensitized ER staff thought “meh not a preemie, so what”. 18 hours of no vitals, no doctor, me guiding the respiratory therapy, and making sure he could friggen breathe and be hydrated was my experience with what I call the laziest, noncaring staff on Earth.

    I think people in their given industry, when it comes to safety of people—and we all know how customer service jobs can take it’s toll on you—makes them become lazy, uncaring, and thinking that throwin you a bone like a refund (they did it to me with the final ER/hospital bill payoff) is enough to shut us up. But like you, I demanded a meeting, in person with key staff including the ER director and CEO because this is more about safety and ensurance of change.

    But alas, more money was thrown and I have to risk a repeat experience god forbid the next time he goes to the ER with breathing problems (which are chronic due to the RSV temp. damaging his lungs). They just don’t get it. On top of it all I received a response letter with erroneous tales of our experience, which just confirms to me that they rather save their own ass then admit they made a mistake. Lovely.

    They’ll never get it. I think many years of large lawsuits and underfunding/rewarding the employees caused them to give two shits about us. They just rather wait until something disasterous happens and start the money throwing cycle all over again.

    I’m glad she is safe and she came back home. Amazing how the safety of our children makes us turn to holy terrors with the pen and how effective a blog or a letter can be in some ways.

  29. Kelly says:

    In my comment earlier, I meant to comment on the ignorance of Mr. Kamens when he made the remarks insinuating all commenters from Houston were Continental employees. So I second what Travis said. The vast majority of Houstonians do not work for Continental or any other airline. I understand Mr. Kamens’ frustration with all the posters questioning his judgment, especially when a good number of them seem quite ignorant themselves. However, let’s not be a hypocrite. Mr. Kamens, your ass is hanging out on that one.

  30. Dave Hayden says:

    What an incredible story!! You’d think that when boarding two planes from one gate, that the door agent would double check EVERYONE’S boarding pass to make sure they were getting on the right plane. I could understand one of these mistakes happening – we’re all human. But so many people made mistakes here that it’s just scary. Indeed EVERYONE from the airline involved in your daughter’s custody messed up.

    It seems that the airline is provided “unaccompanied minor safety theater” rather than any real safety.

    Thank goodness you realized that there was that other plane boarding at the same time.

  31. Me says:

    Boarding two planes from the same gate at the same time is a common occurence. It is usually due to delays or mainteneance issues, as operations won’t place two aircraft with concurrent departures at the same gate unless they need to. There are no rules against it.

    The gate agent screwed up by taking your daughter to the wrong plane. The flight attendant that signed for your daughter screwed up by not checking the destination city listed on the paperwork. Flight attendants for both flights screwed up by not matching the actual passenger count to the passenger count on the paperwork given to the flight crew by the gate agent and rectifying the discrepancy. Basically, every check put into place to prevent this type of problem failed.

    I’m a former airline employee…if you have any questions about the way things should have been done, feel free to contact me.

  32. HG says:

    That’s a pretty important “human error”! I would agree mistakes happen BUT this is a child they misplaced – that’s unexceptable in my eyes! Human error is going to cause another 9/11 and that’s just not exceptable either! WAKE UP PEOPLE!

  33. Darrell Spice says:

    It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that when there’s a flood of anonymous comments from Houston, … that these people are Continental employees who don’t want to see their company trashed in public.

    While that might be a valid reason, a more probably one is the front-page article on the Houston Chronicle’s web site – It includes a link to your blog.
    http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/front/6480156.html

  34. Travis says:

    Oh yeah, I too am from Houston but do not work for the airline, not sure if you took Geography, but Houston is the 4th largest city in the U.S. so GP is one of almost 5 million people living in the city. And your story was posted on chron.com a houston newspaper.

  35. jik says:

    However; we are all humans, and no matter how much technology is involved human error will always be a part of the transport industry.
    I have worked for 20+ years in the industry, and I have come to understand that delays, misroutes and almost anything you can think of happen daily.

    It’s exactly this “this is just how it is and there’s nothing we can do about it” attitude that I’m fighting to change. This is not just how it is. Things can be improved. I do not believe in fatalism.

  36. GP says:

    I live in Houston and am not employed by CO. For you to assume that just because a commenter who lives in Houston is an employee of the company is just plain stupid. Yes, CO. is headquartered here, but really that doesn’t mean that anyone that posts from a Houston IP address is a CO. worker.

    Maybe, you’re getting a lot of Houston hits because the local paper has posted a link to your blog from their website story.

    Yes, you should be compensated in some way for the ordeal that your daughter was put through. It’s an ordeal that I could never imagine any child going through alone. Glad to hear she is fine and that she made it to her final destination safely.

  37. Ted says:

    Later this month, I’ll be sending my daughter from Austin to DC for a visit with her grandfather. I’m thankful that she’s not scheduled to fly on Continental or any of their “contract carriers.”

    While it’s certainly not your job to clean up the problem of a ridiculously inattentive airline or a more systemic problem in air travel generally, those of us who use airlines to allow our children to spend time with loved ones living far away are in your debt.

  38. K. B. says:

    Wow. I don’t know how I would have reacted to that situation. I was in Cancun with my 9 year old son and they wanted us to put him on a plane by himself to send him back to Houston where we live since there was a 3 day backup and we couldn’t get out of Mexico. I called my folks and told them about it and asked if they could be there to pick him up at IAH. After awhile, I decided I was not going to do that and instead we slept on the floor of the Airport for two days until we got a flight back. I just didn’t trust anyone at all to watch over him that I didn’t know…I don’t care who they worked for…there could have been some freak on the plane waiting to do something wierd. I don’t even think it was Continental, I can’t remember, but it didn’t matter. I just felt too uneasy about the whole thing. I was visiting my brother in Boston once and we were at Logan Airport and as I got on the plane (just past the miltary guys with the AK-47′s, jeez) there was a lady having the same problem…not wanting to put her kid on the plane because hse got bumped. My brother worked at Logan putting himself through college there and said the whole sitiation with the airlines and Logan airport itself is so screwed up that he didn’t even feel safe getting on a plane there anyway. He said it was always nice getting back to Houston Airport and not seeing people with machine guns.

    Anyway, I’m glad your situation turned out good. Sounds to me like someone dropped the ball and it’s not a company wide breakdown. But that very feeling you had when she was lost, that panic, is something I decided I didn’t want him to face, much less myself or anyone else had I made the decision for him to fly alone. No way. It was worth sleeping on the floor for for three days….he was with me.

    By the way, I don’t work for, or know anyone who works for Continental. My brother is the only one I knew who did as a reservationist back in 2002 at Logan, and that was only a year. He did say that working at Logan was pure hell, though. The place is a zoo, and I hope I never have to go there agian.

  39. Alex says:

    For the love of god people, what is wrong with you. There isn’t a single thing wrong with leaving a kid at the gate and assuming that after paying a $75 fee they will get to their destination safely. When I was younger I flew alone as a minor at least twice, and not because I had terrible parents. I know if I were sent to the wrong destination, my parents, hell, even I, would be furious and demand a refund on the minor fee, and a free upgrade for the flight back. He is completely right in requesting that he be fully compensated.

  40. Well, first let me just say that I DO NOT currently live in Houston, TX. I live in Lodi, CA. HOWEVER, I grew up in Houston. I do not work for Continental Airlines, or any airline for that matter…..but I do like to fly! :)
    With that out of the way let me start my post.

    I would have been terrified if my son had been put on the wrong plane. Just wanted to let that be known. I am not too sure what it would take for them to make it right with me as far as compensation or whatever. I don’t know that I could put a “price tag” or whatever you want to call it on my son’s life. I am not at all siding with anyone, but what I do know is that I DO KNOW that this would have FREAKED ME OUT!

    I fly Southwest…..more than any reason because when SW lands in Houston, it lands at Hobby which is 10 mintues from my momma’s house….and not 45 minutes – CONT lands at Intercontinental Airport, so it’s longer for me to see my mom after I land and that is just torture!

    So with all of this said let me say that this man has every right to vent you guys…….IF YOU ARE A PARENT, PUT YOURSELF IN HIS SHOES AND KNOW THAT YOU KNOW THAT YOU WOULD BE AS UPSET (SOME OF YOU MORE) AND WOULD HAVE FREAKED OUT A LITTLE. IF YOU AREN’T A PARENT…..THEN HUSH….YOU DON’T KNOW THAT FEELING UNTIL YOU HAVE BEEN THERE.

    Kristy

  41. John says:

    I understand your dilemma; I would be upset if they misrouted my dog! So you are right to be upset.
    However; we are all humans, and no matter how much technology is involved human error will always be a part of the transport industry.
    I have worked for 20+ years in the industry, and I have come to understand that delays, misroutes and almost anything you can think of happen daily. The real question is: were you or your daughter harmed permanently by this?

  42. Lester McGovern says:

    They should charge you for the extra flight. She got to see beautiful NYC and New Jersey at no charge to you.

  43. Kelly says:

    I love rantings. I, too, am from Houston and don’t work for an airline. Though I fly frequently for work and usually with Continental, since Houston is a hub. I have to laugh when reading the mostly idiotic chastizing from people who can’t spell, use big words that are clearly above their vocabulary since they are misused, and don’t seem to have really read or understood what actually took place. The father did not abandon his daughter. He took her to the gate. He paid the airline to escort his daughter safely to her destination, which includes staying with her until she is met by the people (and no one else) who are listed on her paperwork. If you want to call this babysitting, fine. Airlines have paid staff to do this, and also, by the way, escort VIPs, groups that need a little help, etc. It is their job and one that they are paid for. If they are not capable of providing this service, the airline should not offer it, and certainly not charge for it. Though dear Daddy’s responses to some of the more moronic comments make him a somewhat unsympathetic character, I have to empathize with his frustration. I agree that offering to refund only the unaccompanied minor fee is too little and a bit insulting. The airline should offer a free domestic round-trip ticket. I am sure when all is said and done, they will. I think demanding more would seem greedy. So many people missed the point about the manifests. Because people change seats all the time, and a person’s gender and age are not listed, if there is an extra passenger on the flight, the airline would have a hard time knowing who it is. In this case, an innocent 10-year-old girl. However, it could have been a drug runner, a plane hijacker, or any other miscreant. It is imperative that the flight attendants match the manifest to the number of the passengers on the plane and, if there is a discrepancy, they must not take off until the matter is resolved.

  44. Unbelievable says:

    It is beyond comprehension to me that they make you remove your shoes at the security checkpoint, randomly check your baggage, won’t allow you to bring bottles of shampoo, toothpaste, etc. – all for our “safety” and “security” and yet this poor child was placed on the wrong flight and NOBODY noticed. To all the people saying “no harm done” and “mistakes happen” – are you really saying that if it was your daughter you’d just wave it off and forgive and forget? Really??? And regarding whether she should’ve had parental supervision – she was escorted by her father to the gate where he personally handed her over to an employee of the airline who was contractually obligated to ensure she made it on the correct flight. While on the plane she should’ve been monitored and checked on as an unaccompanied minor. When she arrived at her destination she should’ve been accompanied off the plane and delivered straight into her grandparents’ care. Period. It’s not like she was dropped off at the entrance to the airport and left to fend for herself.

    I’m sorry for your family you had to go through that. I would’ve been scared out of my mind.

  45. Houston resident says:

    You are getting so many posts from Houston b/c this is front page news on our city’s only newspaper, The Chronicle. It is front page on-line and there is a link to your blog. http://www.chron.com. Have fun with this one. Usually when ppl say it is not about the money, it generally is ALL about the money… Glad your daughter is ok, she is the most important thing here.

  46. neal says:

    OMG – glad this was not my child. And to all those that don’t get it? Does not matter what the father actions are. Continental got it all wrong!! Any comments or concern for the fathers action should be turned around back to the airline.
    Hope the family for this child come out with no ill effecfs from this failure of doing the right thing. I’m am a parent from Houston. Houston we got this one wrong.

  47. Steff says:

    I think this is a very sad example of people not being able to put themselves in your shoes. Accidents can, do and will happen. It’s a natural part of life. However, people also have to take responsibility when they cause an accident. Continental employees responsible for those two flights made errors in judgement when they chose to overlook your child. With all the security measures in place to combat terrorism, taking a simple count of the passengers on the plane is not something they should get wrong. All it takes is one person to be overlooked and the consequences can be devastating. It is a slap in the face to not just you, but to all who patronize Continental Airlines to offer to refund the $75 fee. They thought they were fooling with an idiot, which I assume you are not. You paid your money for a service and you did not receive satisfactory results. Not encouraging extensive legal action, but Continental needs to take responsibility for this.

  48. Scott says:

    I am sorry for the anxiety your family experienced and it is clear to me there are a number of irresponsible parents who are completely uninformed on this issue who have posted on this. The UM fee is charged by the airline to assume the responsibility of getting your child from A to B safely and with care. CO clearly had multiple points of failure upon accepting your child for transport. You have every right to be angry. I hope your daughter will not terrified to fly again and will forget the bad experience and relish the time with her grandparents.

  49. Jeffrey says:

    JIK says: ‘The commenters whom I’m referring to as Continental employees are all posting from Houston, Texas, which just happens to be where Continental’s corporate headquarters is located, and which is one of Houston’s largest employers.’
    – – - – - – -
    The reason you have a ton of commenters from Houston is because the Houston Chronicle has a link to your blog and this story happens to be on the front page. Guess what? I live in Houston….and I know this is going to sound crazy, BUT like 99.9% of Houstonians, I do not work for Continental. In fact, I typically fly Southwest because they fly out of Houston’s smaller airport. Oh, and Continental is not exactly what drives the Houston job market….ever heard of the oil/gas/energy industry?

    At any rate, the airline should just refund the ticket give your family some round trip vouchers and call it a day.

Leave a Reply