American Airlines allegedly sent a 12-year-old unaccompanied boy to the wrong state after a telephone reservations agent booked a ticket for Columbus, Ohio rather than Columbus, Georgia where the boy was meant to be flying to.
The boy’s father, Daniel Patton, went to pick his son up from the airport on June 7 after he had spent some time visiting his mother in Dallas but when he got to the airport he realized his son was nowhere to be seen.
After phoning American Airlines, Patton says staff in Ohio located his son and put him back on a plane to Dallas where he could connect on another flight to Georgia. After a five-hour layover in Dallas, the 12-year-old boy got on a flight to the correct city and made it home nearly 12 hours late.
Patton believes the mistake only happened because he had to call AA’s reservation center to book the ticket rather than making the booking online because it was a so-called ‘unaccompanied minor’ service.
“What is frustrating is that I looked up the correct flights already but it doesn’t allow parents to purchase tickets themselves or I would have booked the flight online,” Patton told Insider.
Instead, he sought reassurances from the agent that the ticket had been booked for Colombus, Georgia rather than its namesake in Ohio. The agent reportedly confirmed the ticket had been booked correctly.
For an additional fee, American Airlines offers its ‘unaccompanied minor’ or ‘UM’ service for children under the age of 18 who are flying without a parent or guardian. Along with the $250 ticket, Patton says he also paid AA an additional $150 for the UM service.
“Mistakes happen but when they drop the ball it’s a big deal especially when you already take the agency and liability away from parents when making the booking,” Patton said. Perhaps unsurprisingly, he has vowed not to use AA in the future.
In July, American Airlines made headlines when it allegedly ‘lost’ a 12-year-old unaccompanied girl at Miami International Airport when flight attendants waved her off an arriving escort without a chaperone.
Unaccompanied minors are meant to be escorted from the plane to their parent or guardian but for some reason the flight attendants forgot a UM was onboard. UM’s wear a large lanyard around their neck to make them easily identifiable.
After that incident, a spokesperson for American Airlines said the carrier “cares deeply about our young passengers and is committed to providing a safe and pleasant travel experience for them.”
After Patton’s ordeal, the airline sent an apology by email and refunded the cost of the trip. AA has not publicly commented on the incident.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.