I don’t often take to the internet to “complain”, but this experience was so awful it’s left me wondering if I should contact the media and let them do a story on this absolutely horrific experience my poor 11 year old son had flying on an American Airlines flight as an unaccompanied minor.
This is perhaps the worst and scary flight experience I’ve ever had in my life. The worst part is it didn’t happen to me, I wish it did. It happened to my 11 year old son Aidan who was flying the other day from Reagan International in D.C. to Rochester, NY as an unaccompanied minor.
At first everything was fine. A very nice woman came and told us she would come and get Aidan when it was time to board the plane. My kids have done this a few times before so they are use to the drill. She came to get him and Aidan and I said our goodbyes, hugged and cried a little bit to each other and he was on his way. Unfortunately because of divorce and job location I’m only able to see my kids once every few months.
So Aidan boarded the plane and I of course stayed right where I was to wait until I had confirmation that the plane “took off”. The flight was scheduled to depart at 3:12 pm. It was around 3:30 pm and I was starting to get a little concerned because no one had come up to me to give me any information at all. I finally got up and approached the counter. As I did the woman who had brought my son to the plane appeared and started talking to a co-worker. She did not see that I was standing next to her.
I proceeded to hear her say to the co-worker, “I accidentally brought that young boy to the wrong plane I must have had the wrong flight number, I realized it was the wrong plane because no one was on it so I brought him back and he’s sitting in one of the buses outside.”
I was completely STUNNED. My son was almost “accidentally” put on the wrong plane? Are you kidding me??
I will be honest upon hearing this I completely freaked out inside but was determined to remain calm. The attendant then proceeded to tell me that the flight attendant that was suppose to come get Aidan was now missing and they did not know where she was. My jaw was just on the ground, this almost seemed unreal that this was happening.
All of this made me extremely nervous and I wanted to either go to Aidan or have them bring him to me. My concern was this entire debacle was potentially making him very nervous and scared. Aidan is only 11 and this is the very first time he’s ever flown without his brother. Aidan also suffers from a mild form of Autism called Asbergers, so my concern was growing that he was doing ok.
I asked to see my son and they said I was not “allowed” to see him because of security issues. Trying to remain calm I could somewhat understand the security issue but I needed to see my son to make sure he was ok. I kept insisting they bring him to me but they continued to refuse.
I then realized I could call Aidan on his phone via Facetime to talk to him to see if he was ok. As I suspected he was very nervous. “Dad I’m scared he said, I don’t understand what is going on I want to see you.”
I told the attendants he was nervous and asking for me and they still refused to let me see my son.
I kept Aidan on the phone to calm him down. He finally did calm down and I continued to assure him everything was going to be ok. He was on the bus and I was told they were still “waiting” for this missing flight attendant.
As this entire mess was happening almost all over the American employees just disappeared. No one was communicating with me at all. Every time I needed to find out what was going on I had to go and hunt someone down to ask them to please give me an answer. The woman who originally brought Aidan out to the bus assured me she would come back and let me know what was going on and also promised to report back to me when the plane took off. She completely disappeared. I never saw her again after I overheard her say that she brought Aidan to the wrong plane. So now it’s around 4pm, still no one was coming to me with any information. And now Aidan is no longer answering his phone so my worry is growing.
I then went yet again to find an American employee. I approached a woman who was walking around to ask her if she knew what was going on. She told me she would try and find out. She walked up to a desk where 2 American employees were sitting. I could barely hear what she was saying but it appeared she was telling them I was looking for information. As if this awful situation couldn’t get any worse, the woman that she was talking to yells out, “Oh my God will you tell that guy to calm down about his son.” Again, complete shock. She then looked up to see my standing about 20 feet away from her and ducked her head down behind her computer in embarrassment. The woman who I spoke to came back to tell me that Aidan did indeed finally get on the plane and that the plane took off. Sadly I was so worried I wasn’t even sure they were telling me the truth.
I honestly remained extremely nervous until I finally heard from my ex wife who was picking Aidan up that Aidan did indeed get off the plane. I remained at Reagan airport until I had confirmation from my ex that Aidan got off the plane because this entire situation was so horrible that I needed to make sure Aidan was safe.
I am beyond shocked at this entire thing. I can’t believe that American operates this poorly especially when it comes to an 11 year old unaccompanied minor traveling alone. Shocked and very disappointed.
If you’re in a situation like me and need to fly your child as an unaccompanied minor, I would NOT use American Airlines.