View Full Version : BA Partner loses 11 yr old girl with typical yank response from both sides

23rd Jul 2001, 10:05
DETROIT, Michigan (CNN) -- AmericaWest Airlines plans to reprimand the airline chaperone who mistakenly put an 11-year-old girl traveling alone from Los Angeles to Detroit on the wrong flight.

Jim Sabourin, vice president of communications for AmericaWest, said Tuesday some type of reprimand would be issued, but the company has not yet decided what course of action to take.

Termination is one of the options, he said.

William McDaniel of Detroit said his daughter, Aunnalise Woods, was put on a plane by her mother at Los Angeles International Airport Saturday at 9:45 p.m. (12:45 p.m. EDT).

She was to arrive at Wayne County Metropolitan Airport on a connecting flight from Phoenix, Arizona, at 6:40 p.m. that evening, McDaniel told CNN.

When she didn't arrive, an attendant told him his daughter was flying standby and would arrive at 10 p.m. on the next flight, but she wasn't on that flight either.

Woods' mother, Alacia Blake, who lives in Los Angeles, had paid AmericaWest a $60 fee for an airline chaperone to accompany her daughter to and from her connecting flights to Detroit.

But the attendant put his daughter on the wrong connecting flight in Phoenix, McDaniel said.

"She brought it to the attention of the attendant. He told her this was the right gate. She recognized she was on the wrong flight when the plane landed and the pilot welcomed everyone to Orlando."

Sabourin said a station manager in Orlando had tried to contact the father, but had only a pager number, and no one returned the page.

But McDaniel said no one contacted him.

Without parental consent, AmericaWest could not put Woods on another airline that had a direct flight to Detroit, Sabourin said. So Woods was flown on an AmericaWest flight that connected through Las Vegas.

That flight arrived in Detroit at 7 a.m. EDT Sunday, more than 18 hours after her original flight left Los Angeles.

McDaniel said his daughter was in tears on the plane and now does not want to fly alone.

McDaniel said no one from AmericaWest could tell him where his daughter was until 3 a.m. EDT, and that representatives at the company's Phoenix headquarters were rude to his family when they called trying to find daughter's whereabouts.

Airline: 'Extremely rare occurrence'
The airline is also looking into those claims, Sabourin said. "This is an unfortunate situation," he said. "There are literally thousands of minors who travel by themselves on airplanes every year, and this is an extremely rare occurrence."

Normally, a chaperone accompanies a minor throughout his or her flight to their destination, taking the minor to the outgoing gate.

"We're uncovering all the details to determine exactly what happened to prevent it from occurring again," he said.

McDaniel was given a ticket voucher for $400 by the AmericaWest attendant at Metro Airport, but said he has contacted an attorney to pursue legal action.

The airline has left numerous messages at the father's home in Detroit and the mother's home in L.A., but Sabourin said neither parent has returned the company's calls to discuss the incident further.

Sabourin said AmericaWest would like to refund the price of the child's ticket and give each of her parents free tickets and a vacation package, in addition to the $400 ticket voucher.

23rd Jul 2001, 12:13
<< AmericaWest would like to refund the price of the child's ticket and give each of her parents free tickets and a vacation package, in addition to the $400 ticket voucher.>>

I bet they would! They are more interested in the PR fallout and litigation than discharging their responsibility. As you say - Typical yank response from both sides.

Our CC now have to sign for the UM's at every stage of transfer to ensure they don't go astray.

Unfortunately the little dears have an annoying habit of darting off with the pax even though they have been told to wait until last.

The Guvnor
23rd Jul 2001, 12:18
Ironically, by 11, most kids are perfectly capable of looking after themselves and finding their own flights - the UM service only goes up to 12 in any case!

Still, the amount of coverage this story got shows that losing UMs is still a very rare thing. Looking on the bright side ... at least America West is a domestic-only operator. Imagine where she could have ended up had she been flying AA, UA etc....

Captain Airclues
23rd Jul 2001, 13:35

The 'UM' code is only used for Unaccompanied Minors, travelling without an escort. There are very strict rules about the handover from ground staff to cabin crew, and for their care on board. These procedures would have prevented this event from happening, as the crew on the Orlando flight would not have been expecting a 'UM', and would have queried her arrival at the gate.
If a child is travelling with an escort then it is assumed that the escort has full responsibility for the childs welfare, and the crew treat them as normal passengers.


Snake Hips
23rd Jul 2001, 13:48
It will, no doubt, take at lest $1,000,000 to get over the 'severe trauma' caused by this 'incident'. Great country but..........
(should have been a lawyer)

23rd Jul 2001, 14:42
Capt. Airclues, read the article. The Guv has it right. This was a UM, travelling without an escort. The "chaperone" provided was only delivering the child to the outgoing gate during her change at Phoenix.

23rd Jul 2001, 15:07
Why the reference to 'BA Partner' in the post title?

What could this possibly have to do with BA?

Another bit of BA-bashing? Could you therefore say that:

"Delta partner Concorde crashes in Paris"


"AA partner pilots on strike"


Captain Airclues
23rd Jul 2001, 17:00
Thanks Hugmonster....I must learn to read the article more carefully.

Sorry Guv


23rd Jul 2001, 23:55
True, the airline deserves to get blasted for this irresponsible handling of the child transfer. America West makes frequent blunders - and its PR handling is attrocious.

Unfortunately, no one wants to be politically-incorrect and discuss just how INEPT this kid was. I watched an interview with her and she is about as "clueless" as they come. C'mon, at 11 years old it would not be TOO difficult to maybe ask a question about whether a certain flight is the correct one to board, etc. Did she not ask any questions during the early part of her journey? Did she not hear the announcements about the flight leaving for Orlando before boarding the aircraft? This kid is indicative of many kids in the US nowadays - aloof and distracted (yes - I am an American). It sounds like her mother did an AWFUL job of preparing the kid for her journey - she had zero idea about her connections, etc. A cross-country trip is a big deal for an 11 year-old, and she should have had a clue about which flights she would be taking and where she would be stopping. Instead, she was like a lemming heading for the sea...

Yes, yes, yes - I know it is the ultimate responsibility of the airline to ensure safe delivery (the family paid extra money for this service). America West made a huge mistake - that is undeniable. Some form of compensation is probably warranted. Unfortunately, some passengers are super-aloof and would rather be lead around than be proactive or assertive. It sickens me!

Hey Canada - invade us at will!!!!!!!!

24th Jul 2001, 00:21
I used to work for Bad Bob at LGW and a few years ago pax handling used to get people from all areas (includin engineering) to help them out when they were busy. We would go in on OT on our days off and just help out with queue combing and bringing people to baggage checks etc.
One night we met an inbound flight and the full time check in girl took delivery of a UM then asked me to escort her through baggage reclaim and hand the girl over to her parents who would be waiting in arrivals. I marched her up in the general direction but as my ramp pass wouldn't allow me into that part of the North terminal I just pointed her on her way and said goodbye, and watched her head off. On my return to the office they asked me how i got on and I told them what I'd done all hell broke loose, mass panic, savage bollicking (not to me), search party etc, that poor little girl was never ever seen again.......

[ 23 July 2001: Message edited by: Pengineer ]

24th Jul 2001, 00:38
...just kidding on that last bit!
Seriously though, she was on her way, the people in charge dug in waiting for the flak from the parents, nothing ever happened as far as i could find out.
So the morale of the story is.........

24th Jul 2001, 01:12
When I was a reporter in Leningrad (St.Petersburg) my wife came to join me to scout for an apartment minus the kids. When it was time for the two siblings to embrace the fold it was via SAS -- at that time JFK. They went to Copenhagen, then to Stockholm and then to Leningrad unacompanied. They wore a plasticized large square on their chests hung from their necks saying who they were and what flights they were traveling on. Not a misstep along the way. In fact, the boys said it was a great experience riding the "beep, beep, beep," golfcarts from one plane to another.