December 27 – Just days before Christmas, a 6-year-old was excited to fly to Florida to see his grandmother.
He was on Spirit Airlines, boarding from Philadelphia International Airport to Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort Myers.
Somehow, he was put on a plane headed to Orlando instead and the grandmother had to drive more than 150 miles to pick up her grandson.
Spirit Airlines has apologized and offered to reimburse the cost of the drive, but didn’t provide any explanation for what happened. The airline said they are investigating the situation.
Pat Ryan of NewsTalk 103.7FM said, “That’s a pretty big miss. Every parent’s anxiety is bubbling up right now.”
Attorney Clint Barkdoll said, “Think about that, a 6-year-old that was subjected to that and I’m sure once it was discovered the staff on that plane did everything they could to comfort and accommodate him but how this happened, who knows? This is the kind of thing you’ll likely see an FAA investigation, among others. It’s not clear how this young man got separated from his family and fortunately he’s okay but you can just imagine at 6, the trauma that he had and his family upon discovering what occurred here.”
Michele Jansen of NewsTalk 103.7FM noted, “I’m going to go back to the family on this a little bit. What in the world are we doing putting a 6-year-old as an unaccompanied child? What family in their right minds sends their 6-year-old themselves? I’m sorry, it wouldn’t happen in my family. So you know what, you can blame the airlines, but I think it’s absurd to think you’re never going to have a mishap if you’re sending 6-year-olds by themselves to fly. Sorry. No. It’s as much the family’s fault as it is the airline’s fault for putting a 6-year-old in that position to begin with. Sorry.”
Barkdoll suggested, “My guess is this is a custody case. What I would imagine is there’s a custody order in place that says mom or dad and wherever it gets the child these days over the Christmas break. There’s probably even terms in the order that talk about who pays for the ticket, where and how he flies from. I agree with you. It seems like an awfully young age to put a child on a plane and I realize the airlines do have these programs. I’ve been on flights where there’s unaccompanied minors and there’s typically a staff person that sits with them and they have movies and games but it seems awfully young to me. I didn’t realize a child this young would even be allowed to fly unaccompanied, but apparently the policy at least with Spirit allows this to happen.”
Jansen said, “Going to visit my grandmother. So that even makes it less the case of what you’re talking about and more questionable that the family would make this decision.”