In this litigious society, American Airlines should end its unaccompanied minor program. It is not worth the hassle.
Mother Claims American Airlines Placed Her Unaccompanied Minor Boys In “Jail” And Deprived Them Of Food And Water After Flight Cancellation
The latest lawsuit comes from a mother of two in Florida, who claims that American Airlines kept her children, aged 10 and 12, in a “cold, jail-cell-like room overnight without food, water, blankets, or pillows.”
AA’s unaccompanied minor program costs $150 each way per child, with additional siblings included at no extra cost. The service includes:
- Early boarding to allow extra time to get settled and meet the flight attendants
- Kids-only lounges in our hub cities for flight connections
- Complimentary Kids’ Kits from Quaker with snacks and activities (for ages 5 – 10, in hub cities)
- An airport escort to help your child to the gate for flight connections
- Escorting the child to the authorized adult picking them up when they land
That’s a lot of benefits for $150 and when things go sideways, it creates a lot of drama, especially when connecting itineraries are involved.
In this case, the boys’ flight to Syracuse (SYR) was canceled and they remained stuck at Charlotte (CLT), their connecting city, overnight. They were rebooked the next day…at 5:00 pm…and their mother was told the boys would be placed in a “nice room for unaccompanied minors where there were beds and their own bathroom.”
But apparently they received no food or drinks that night (“not even a pretzel or snacks” according to one of the boys) and only received something to eat after complaining the next morning.
As for sleeping, the lawsuit contends, “The room was freezing, and the children spent the night on a sofa with the lights on. Apparently, the children had been placed in a lost children’s room.”
Here’s A Thought: Travel With Your Kids Or Prepare Them To Deal With Flight Delays + Cancellations
First, American Airlines should keep its promise and deliver what it promises. Second, leaving kids in a cold room with the lights on overnight and no blankets or pillows is not ideal.
If AA offers a service, it should do it right.
But maybe you don’t send your kids on a connecting itinerary alone if they cannot handle it? And why did they not have cell phones? And money for food? If you can afford to send your kids on a plane trip, you better have a way to communicate with them and a plan to feed them. Flight delays and cancellations are far too common to just leave it to chance, even under the guardianship of the airline.
I hope to send my children off on their own as early as possible…but they will be prepared and I will not do so until they have shown they can cope with travel plans going wrong.
Children of privilege? Not in a nation in which 97% of adults have mobile phones. A mobile phone or debit card is not a luxury item: it is a travel necessity.
So I actually place more blame on the parents here than I do on American Airlines, though I am not speaking from a legal perspective.
Time To End Accompanied Minor Program At American Airlines
These days, some parents will get in your face for even talking to their kid. It’s a different world and with changing times should come a re-evaluation of services long offered from a different era.
I would end the accompanied minor program if I were running American Airlines. Will it result in some lost revenue? Probably, but it would also eliminate a great source of liability.
At the very least, I would triple or quadruple the price of the program and only allow it for nonstop itineraries, thereby incentivizing parents to travel with their children and collecting a fee such that the kids could be better taken care of in case of flight delays or cancellations
American Airlines is facing a lawsuit from a mother who says that the airline failed to care for her children after a flight cancellation. Without commenting on the merits of this specific lawsuit, I really do not understand why American Airlines continues its unaccompanied minor program in its current form: it is too cheap, too generous, and too ripe for lawsuits.