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View Full Version : Westjet "looses" 5 year old girl on plane


rotornut
18th Dec 2007, 12:18
http://www.nationalpost.com/news/story.html?id=175166

anotherthing
18th Dec 2007, 12:29
Westjet "looses" 5 year old girl on plane


They let a five year old girl run around the aircraft?

Hand Solo
18th Dec 2007, 12:34
Well at least they didn't lose her.

AltFlaps
18th Dec 2007, 12:51
I feel VERY STRONGLY about this ....

WHAT THE HELL was five year old girl doing travelling alone ?
I KNOW that most 'major' carriers allow kids this young - but what KIND OF PARENT are you that you don't care enough about your five year old to travel with them ?

I've heard lots of reasons and excuses over the years - but as far as I'm concerned - THERE IS NO EXCUSE FOR ALLOWING YOUR FIVE YEAR OLD TO TRAVEL ALONE :mad:

Just imagine what an emergency or evacuation would do to the mind of a five year old travelling alone

Mac the Knife
18th Dec 2007, 13:06
" Just imagine what an emergency or evacuation would do to the mind of a five year old travelling alone..."

Given the Government legislated/encouraged overprotective atmosphere that kids are brought up in these days I can quite imagine that it might well inflict on them traumas that would drive them permanently insane or at least, qualify them for lifelong disability grants to whimper about. Bah!

I flew as an unaccompanied minor on BEA/BOAC regularly from 5 years on, had a super time and was throughly spoiled by the cabin and cockpit crew. In an emergency I'd have been the best looked after of all.

irritable Mac

PS: I still have my Junior Jet badge though I've lost the autograph book full of pilots amused signatures....

AirwayBlocker
18th Dec 2007, 13:24
WHAT THE HELL was five year old girl doing travelling alone ?

Well, as the article stated and as is the case of most unaccompanied minors she was travelling from her mother to visit her father who is no longer married to her mom and who lives in another city.

Unaccompanied minors travel the world every single day of the year and while I'm not particularly fond of the practice myself (especially when it comes to the younger kids) it is a program that handled correctly by the airlines involved does allow families to stay connected.

In this case the airline has identified that they have a problem with their program and have suspended it until they can identify where they went wrong.

As for emergencies, in a properly run program there is a designated escort or crew member assigned to assist the unaccompanied youngster. You could ask a similar question as to what a mother would do travelling with three of four of her own children in an emergency situation. How would she and her children cope?

As for this particular occasion it luckily ended well with a caring samaritan looking after the girl. He could have possibly also done things differently in his handling of the situation by advising one of the crew of his intentions to look after her seeing as they seemed unable to do so. Especially when he left the aircraft with her.

But lessons can definitely be learned to avoid a possibly more tragic outcome in future.

Mercenary Pilot
18th Dec 2007, 13:33
Some of the comments on here are just pathetic! (well they were until the mods deleted them :ok: ) :rolleyes:

Westjet should be ashamed of themselves if the article is to be believed. I couldn't imagine our cabin crew being so irresponsible and negligent with an UM.

QCM
18th Dec 2007, 13:35
AltFlaps,how can you know about this family private life?
Don't you think they would prefer things to be simple?
There is a regulation allowing their 5 years old daughter to travel alone,so they rely on the system that's all...if one day life brings you sh;t and you have no choice but letting your child go,what would you do?
What about the old people in case of evacuation,it might take them much more time to jump from the slides than a fresh 5 years old kid...?
It seems that some people are very prompt to judge other's personal situation rather than understanding it.

Finals19
18th Dec 2007, 13:48
Shocking indeed. I used to work as crew for a national european flag carrier, and there were very strict procedures for UM's. A particular working position on the aircraft was assigned UM duties, and it was their responsibility to sign over the paperwork from the ground staff who would personally escort said UM to the a/c door. That CC member was then responsible for the UM until the a/c arrived at destination and then had to hand over the paper work with the UM upon disembarkation to the ground staff. All UM details were sent by ACARS ahead of arrival so that ground staff would be doorside to meet them.

Very occasionally a UM would (despite being told to remain seated) get up and try to disembark of their own accord. If they slipped past the ground staff escort at the door, all hell would be let loose as it was a massive liablility issue.

Sounds like the assigned crew member failed miserably in their duty and exposed the airline to huge liability. Slap on wrist for WestJet and on the day crew for not following procedure - assuming suitable procedure was in place from the outset!

rotornut
18th Dec 2007, 14:18
anotherthing/Solo

The joke's on me - I thought I could spell:\

keesje
18th Dec 2007, 14:19
Having little kids I cannot imagine letting young kids go on a unaccompanied trip like this. They are unpredictable and naive and need attention / endorsement / help all the time. Folks talking tough / business like over it probably have no kids. ;)


He could have possibly also done things differently in his handling of the situation by advising one of the crew of his intentions to look after her seeing as they seemed unable to do so. Especially when he left the aircraft with her.


The luckely good guy that took her care of her of the aircraft would not have exposed the potentially dangerous process if he just had asked an FA for a glass of water. Perhaps its better he didn't.

groundbum
18th Dec 2007, 14:25
my 5 year old twins did the trip from Manchester to JFK on the non-stop BA and loved themselves to death, revelled in the attention! And they were visiting their aunt who lives in NY.

And my 8 year old lad did the same trip solo on BA nonstop and spent both flights asleep from beginning to end 8-)

There really isn't a problem when things are done properly. If the world is too scary for some posters then stay in bed and get pizza/tesco/albertsons delivered all day long. Not much can go wrong then!

G

RatherBeFlying
18th Dec 2007, 14:37
Some years ago, I paxed on WJ YHM-YQT-YYC with 3 UM girls 5-9 in the row behind. The older one talked my ear off. They showed me all the toys and games they had been sent off with and gave me a detailed family history and update on the medical condition of the grandparents who they were off to vacation with;)

The cabin crew kept a careful eye on the girls and me during both legs and made very sure that they were escorted to the grandparents.

I suspect somebody slipped up in either passing on or receiving the paperwork. I'll guess that it was not passed on to the cabin crew as one news item reports that the YUL staff was expecting her and had put out a frantic PA at about the time she met her father.

It may help if adjacent pax are alerted to UMs and told to ensure that they stay aboard until fetched by cabin crew. It would also help to designate an able-bodied nearby person to take charge of them in case of an evacuation or rubber jungle.

Very bad timing -- I added WJ to my portfolio just before this hit the fan:}

Speedpig
18th Dec 2007, 14:48
As someone has stated, this happens day in, day out. Hundreds of children travel as UMs daily without incident.
A major concern has to be the fact that this child was allowed to sit next to a male passenger. This is taboo and should have been averted at the check-in stage.
Most children are very well behaved as UMs unless they get in a group.
Would I allow my children to travel as UMs? NO! Not based on any fears of what the airline might do to them, I just don't like the idea.

Matt35
18th Dec 2007, 15:29
My kids travelld as UMs in Europe a few times - always had a large red striped notice aroung their necks with UM...British Airways staff referred to them as "Arthur Scargills"


Matt.

(For non Brits - Scargill was the miners strike leader whom Maggie Thatcher took on)

PaperTiger
18th Dec 2007, 15:35
A major concern has to be the fact that this child was allowed to sit next to a male passenger.Or perhaps not a major concern, as in this case.

cwatters
18th Dec 2007, 15:42
I have five year old twins. I think five is too young to be travelling alone with the level of supervision cabin crew can guarantee (too busy). I mean it's not like they put an extra crew member on the flight to look after all the kids. I'm not sure children are predictable at that age. Might be fine or petrified. Perhaps a few years older and it would be different.

Gertrude the Wombat
18th Dec 2007, 16:43
I travelled across the world with three very small children once, and got, without asking, some help from staff both in the air and on the ground (clearly a man must be unable to cope with his own children and in need of assistance from female staff!).

But the one thing they wouldn't do, and refused when I asked them to, was physically restrain the children. The one thing that would actually have been useful would have been for one of these staff to stop the toddlers running away whilst I was at the baggage claim.

So ... if you pay extra for an UM service do you get people who are actually prepared to touch the children if that's what it takes to keep them safe?? You know, like pick them up and cuddle them for a couple of minutes?? Like waiters/waitresses in civilised restaurants do??

skiesfull
18th Dec 2007, 18:55
If I asked them nicely, would Westjet lose my wife? She has 5-year long tantrums!!

shortm
18th Dec 2007, 19:20
Does no one else think it was highly irresponsible of the adult to remove the child from the aircraft ? Surely it would have been a better course of action for him to bring her to the attention of the crew.

G-CPTN
18th Dec 2007, 20:12
Does no one else think it was highly irresponsible of the adult to remove the child from the aircraft ? Surely it would have been a better course of action for him to bring her to the attention of the crew.
Well, now - there's a conundrum!

If the (male) adult had no adverse intentions there was no risk to the child, however, the crew might have become anxious in the event that they were to check on the child and find her 'missing' (as subsequently happened in Montreal).

If the male adult had informed the crew of his intentions in Winnipeg, the crew may have prevented him (which they should have) leaving the aircraft with the child, thereby leaving her either unaccompanied or under the control of the crew.

The quandry for men is whether to assume that attention towards children might be interpreted as undesirable, or act openly and honestly on the assumption that they have no malevolent intentions.

If I see an unaccompanied child in circumstances which might be 'dangerous' (depending on age of the child and the environment) I will try to find an obvious parent (although this might result in alerting a potential abductor to the child) or enlist the help of a (mature if possible) female, hoping that they will take charge of the child. There is, of course, no guarantee that a female poses less of a threat than myself. If no immediate solution can be found I would continue to monitor the situation (it depends so much on the environment - ie a crowded street or an otherwise deserted country lane) to keep the child from coming to harm. What then happens if a parent appears and assumes that you had evil intentions? Do you accept the abuse, attempt to explain to the parent that you were concerned for the safety of the child (if you get the chance to establish any sort of conversation, or vow never again to show the slightest interest in children (whether unaccompanied or not)?

Of course I know that I am safe with children, but there is a general fear among many of the public that men are intent on abducting young (and not so young) children and should be reported for inappropriate activity near them. It's not enough to say "It's OK, I've had young children myself" or even "My grandchild is still a baby." If the parent chooses they can jump to undesirable conclusions.

What makes the presence of a female partner 'safe'? I imagine many children have been taken away by couples (or even a pair of women).

The bottom line is that the child was entrusted into the care of the airline staff (and a premium paid for that facility) and they failed to honour their side of the deal - first by allowing an 'unknown' person to remove the child from their 'care', not once, but twice . . .
The airline's system was 'tested' and found to be inadequate (with possible disastrous results) - or was the adult merely ensuring that the child was 'safe'?

When we lived in Denmark in the mid 1980s, we were surprised by the number of unaccompanied youngsters that regularly (ie daily) travelled on public transport to and from their schools, often involving changes in a busy city centre. Each child carried a backpack on which was a transparent wallet containing the bus pass. If you 'found' a 'lost' child it was a simple matter of turning the child around and reading the bus pass and then pushing the child in the appropriate direction. Nobody looked at you suspiciously, as, at least at that time, there was no underlying assumption that people were intent on abduction. In three years there was one case of a child-abduction (and murder) in a total population of 8 million people, and that made the news nationally. I wonder if things are still as laid-back there today? The young people developed amazing independence from a very early age - perhaps even more so than in the UK fifty years previously.

Alpine Flyer
18th Dec 2007, 23:24
Where I live children get a free public transport pass to reach their schools and some change lines 2 times to get to their destinations.

I travelled from Montreal to London on BA aged 9 and speaking almost no English. No problem whatsoever and I can still remember some of it. The girl that flew alone to visit her father is envied by all others in my son's kindergarten.........

PaperTiger
19th Dec 2007, 17:18
What then happens if a parent appears and assumes that you had evil intentions? Do you accept the abuse, attempt to explain to the parent that you were concerned for the safety of the child (if you get the chance to establish any sort of conversation, or vow never again to show the slightest interest in children (whether unaccompanied or not)?Yes, accept any abuse that is forthcoming, knowing that it is unwarranted.

And do exactly the same thing again in similar circumstances. Right is right. Always.