Mother Claims 13 Year Old Unaccompanied Minor Was Lost By Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines has found itself in hot water after a parent claimed the airline ‘lost’ their child during a layover in San Fransisco. The child was, at the time, in the custody of the airline as part of their unaccompanied minors program, according to SFGate.

Alaska Airlines
Alaska Airlines has said they had the situation under control the whole time. Photo: Tomás Del Coro via Wikimedia

What are the details?

Alaska Airlines was placed in charge of a 13-year old teenager who was traveling from Raleigh, N.C. via San Fransisco to Spokane, Washington earlier this week. Her parents paid a $75 fee to the airline as part of their unaccompanied minor service, where the airline takes the child from gate to gate and ensures they arrive at their destination (and to another guardian) safe and sound.

However, things went awry in San Fransisco when the daughter was found crying by herself in the airport. An unnamed man found the teenager alone and distressed, and allowed her to use his cellphone to call her parents at home.

Her parents, upon receiving the call that she was alone and didn’t know what to do, were furious. They requested that the helpful man take her to the Alaska Airlines desk and ask the airline to get in touch with them.

Alaska Airlines airport welcome sign
Alaska Airlines promises to take care of your child from departure to arrival. Photo: Alaska Airlines.

According to the parents, the airline then admitted that they lost the child during the layover period. This is obviously a direct contradiction to the airline’s policy on their website, which states:

“Once you’ve handed your child over to our care, he or she will remain under supervision at all times. We provide each child traveling alone with a unique piece of identification which they must wear at all times while in our care.”

They go on to suggest that, at 13 years of age, the minor service is optional and a child can travel alone.

What does the airline have to say about the incident?

Alaska Airlines has been very quick to scramble and respond to the media enquires about the event.

“Our investigation, which includes specific records that tracked the movement of our young guest, indicates employees did meet her when her flight arrived and escorted her to our Service Center at San Francisco International Airport,” Alaska Airlines told WTVD.

Alaska Airlines has said that they had the child under their care the entire time. Photo: Alaska Airlines

“While we had tabs on our young guest the entire time, we understand that she may have felt unsupervised in the crowded area and for that, we are deeply sorry. We also think we could have done a better job communicating with her.”

Since issuing this statement, the airline has refunded the fee to the parents who are still chasing additional compensation. Whilst we believe that the program does work and that the child was not in any danger, you do have to wonder that if the airline was keeping ‘tabs’ on the child then why did staff not interact with her as she sat alone crying? Why did it take the effort of a good samaritan to resolve the situation?

What do you think? Should the airline refund the entire ticket? Let us know in the comments.