Some have suggested that Continental already has the right policies and procedures in place, it was nothing more than an unfortunate mistake (a series of mistakes, actually) that caused my daughter to end up on the wrong flight, and there’s nothing more that Continental can do to make it right.
Well, I beg to differ, and to prove I’m right, here’s a list of ways to prevent this from happening again that my wife came up with off the top of her head (and these must be pretty obvious, given that she doesn’t work in the airline industry):
Things Continental could change at the corporate level besides “retraining”. When this number of employees messes up, you don’t just have a training problem; your corporate policies have made it too difficult for people to do the right thing or too easy to mess up.
- Do not board two planes at the same time out of the same gate, period. One of them has to wait until the other is fully loaded, manifest checked (because same gate makes it easy for adults to make mistakes too), and cabin doors are closed. This may increase plane delays, but it will be an honest increase. They are trying to make up for delays with this unsafe practice.
- Close off the wrong side of the Y in Y jetways when boarding, to avoid that which someone commenting mentioned happened to them about the sheer drop to the pavement (see unsafe practice!).
- Allow or even mandate that a child’s parent or escort take them all the way on to the plane where they are personally introduced to a flight attendant and buckled in. If Southwest mandates it, it must be possible.
- Require unaccompanied minors to preboard. No discretion should be allowed here. In addition to being safer, it gives the child time to settle, hear announcements, ask questions, have their seat assignment known and noticed by attendants, and means children won’t be paraded through full airplanes for all to see by attendants whose mind is already on the next task of getting everyone to sit down and shut up so they can take off on time.
- When an unaccompanied minor is assigned a flight, that flight should have a seat set and ready for them and part of the preflight check list should include someone who is flying on that flight who must check to see if that seat has that child in it. An unaccompanied minor should have a preassigned seat known to someone official in case of emergency, and this is an easy way to make sure the child gets on the plane.