Flying can be stressful even for the most seasoned travelers. So, imagine what it must be like for a teenager who is traveling solo.
Airlines have protocols in place to make sure that unaccompanied minors have smooth and safe trips, but sometimes things do not go according to plan. Recently, United Airlines came under fire when a 14-year-old was placed on the wrong flight.
According to the teen's mother, Brenda Berg, she paid for the airline to accompany her son, Anton, during a layover at Newark Liberty International Airport. But instead of boarding a Scandinavian Airline plane, Anton found himself on a flight that was making its way to Düsseldorf Airport in Germany.
According to the airline, Anton was escorted by a representative and that he was in the right terminal. However, it seems like the mix-up occurred when Anton boarded a Eurowings flight that was at the same gate that the SAS aircraft was supposed to be. Lucky for the young boy, the plane was able to return to the gate so he could disembark.
Following the incident, United Airlines released a statement apologizing to the teen's family, and reminding customers that safety is a top priority for the company.
"The safety and well-being of all of our customers is our top priority, and we have been in contact with the young man’s family to confirm his safety and to apologize for this issue," read the statement.
The airline confirmed that they have refunded the $150 unaccompanied minor fee, and have been in touch with Anton's family in case they had further concerns.
United's apology comes after Brenda took to twitter to complain about the company's lackluster customer service. The mom complained that despite the gravity of the situation, United was not helpful.
"Someone contact me!," Brenda tweeted. "Please let us know you have this under control."
We paid @united a fee to have you watch him. This has been going on for 20 minutes and NO ONE has called us!!!— Brenda Berg (@BrendaBerg) June 30, 2019
Brenda also revealed that Anton was heckled by other passengers on the plane, then left alone for five hours before an agent came to his rescue. After the long wait, Anton was rebooked on an evening flight to the correct destination. Still, the teen had an additional seven hours of travel time.
"They are booking him through Copenhagen," Brenda wrote. "He will have 7 hours of additional travel. Still NO one has called from @united. I finally got through to a rep after 52 minutes and i am back on hold."
They are booking him through Copenhagen. He will have 7hours of additinal travel. Still NO one has called from @united. I finally got through to a rep after 52 minutes and i am back on hold. Warning to everyone. Never trust @United with your children.— Brenda Berg (@BrendaBerg) June 30, 2019
The next day, Brenda returned to Twitter to share an update about her son's journey. Thankfully, Anton did make it safely to Sweden, where he is "enjoying special summertime with family."
Brenda is now warning everyone to "never trust" United with children.
This is one of many customer service-related incidents involving United Airlines over the last few years. In 2017, a video of a doctor being forcibly removed from an overbooked United flight went viral, forcing the public to question the company's policies. The airline also found itself in hot water for mishandling a number of pets, including sending another dog to the wrong destination.