A mother says American Airlines “kidnapped” her 8-year-old son, who has health issues and was traveling as a minor, by neglecting to inform her about an overnight delay, failing to provide him with proper meals, and being uninformed about unaccompanied minor policies.
Kristie Hoyt posted about the incident on Aug. 9. In her post, she explained that her son, Hudson, was traveling with a group of minors, and the airline left “9 unaccompanied children all with medical needs” on a plane for “over 5 hours.” She wrote that they did not give their parents updates or provide the children with access to outlets to charge their phones.
According to a spokesperson for American Airlines, the flight was scheduled to travel from Charlotte, N.C., to Portland, Ore., on Friday, but remained in Charlotte overnight because of a mechanical delay.
“The children were kept in our dedicated unaccompanied minor room where they were kept safe and comfortable in the care of American Airlines personnel at all times,” an airline spokesperson tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “They departed to Portland on Saturday morning. Our team is in the process of reaching out to the families involved and sincerely apologizes for this travel experience.”
However, Hoyt claimed in her post that the children were not looked after, and when their assigned attendant left her post after her shift ended, the airline failed to send a replacement.
“How are you ok having the paid ($300 per child) additional fee flight attendant walk off because her time was done and not replacing someone else assigned to the kids?” her post reads. “You are disgraceful! And harming these children!”
KATU reported that every child in group has neurofibromatosis, which is a genetic disorder that causes tumors to form on nerve tissue. According to the channel, all nine children were at a camp for “kids with the condition.”
The mom told KATU that her 8-year-old was “traumatized” by the delay.
“He called me while they were stuck on the tarmac, terrified that he was never coming home and that he was never going to see me again, and begging me to go to North Carolina and pick him up and bring him home,” she told the channel.
While the airline says the flight was delayed because of a mechanical problem, Hoyt wrote in another post that a flight attendant she spoke with on the phone told her it was delayed because catering was late.
“First she says the flight is delayed because the catering service wasn’t delivered [on] time,” the mom’s post reads. “You have starved our children! Then she proceeds to say the waste levels are too high and maintenance is there to fix it. What is wrong with you? When will you actually contact the parents and do your job and follow your policies?”
Kelley Phillips, a child in the group, told KATU that they were denied access to their medication after the airline checked their carry-on bags. She added that they weren’t even fed proper meals — which they need to take their medication.
“The only thing we had were crackers and soda, which isn't good because we need real food to be able to take our medication,” Phillips told the channel. “We couldn’t even take our medication because they made some of us check our carry-on, saying they were too big. So, we’ve got these kids who need to take medicine, but they’re unable to because it’s in their carry-on under the plane, and they wouldn’t go get us them.”
In a following post, Hoyt confirms that she was reunited with her son on Saturday, but there was further confusion at the time of pick up, where the airline asked her to sign for a child that was not hers.
“We had the entire terminal in our support and anger with the airline,” she wrote. “A few actually video taped it all and send to me. They were amazing! The staff..no! Asked me to sign for a kid who I wasn’t listed for. When I asked for someone to video they were asking me to sign for another child they immediately stopped and said we don’t want to be on CNN.”
She added that the parents involved are exploring legal options.“I want to know how they’re going to fix this, so no other child or parent has to go through this,” she said.
Hoyt did not immediately respond to Yahoo Lifestyle’s request for comment.
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