Written by @saywooord
American Airlines has issued an apology to parents who claim the airline hadn’t notified them of a flight delay carrying their special-needs and unaccompanied minors, forcing the kids to spend the night at the airport.
Nine children were set to make a return home from Camp New Friends, a program that welcomes kids with neurofibromatosis, a genetic condition in which tumors develop in the brain, spinal cord, nerves, and skin. The flight coming from Charlottesville, Virginia was delayed overnight as it was set to journey back to the Portland, Oregon area that Friday.
The flight, however, was canceled and the children, the youngest of which only eight years old, were forced to spend the night in the airport in Charlotte, North Carolina.
In a statement made to USA TODAY, American Airlines spokesman, Ross Feinstein said, “Unfortunately, after boarding Flight 1736 from Charlotte to Portland on Friday, the flight experienced a mechanical delay that caused it to remain in Charlotte overnight. 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. They departed to Portland on Saturday morning.”
However, parents say they were not notified of flight cancellations and delays, and find it hard to believe the children were kept comfortable and supervised at all times.
After already sitting on a plane for five hours, the kids spent their Friday night in a room at the airport where parents claim they were not properly supervised. Complaints include: they were given few bathroom breaks, unable to charge their devices and could not take medications to fend off seizures and migraines at the prescribed times due to the fact they hadn’t eaten since breakfast.
In an interview with Portland TV station KATU, 14-year-old Kelley Phillips claims they only gave them crackers and soda to hold them over, adding, “what we went through was a nightmare, and we shouldn’t have had to go through it.”
Parents, furious with the airline and conditions that their children were subjected to say they were unable to communicate with their kids and had no status updates on their health and wellbeing.
The flight finally took off from Charlotte at 8:43 a.m. Saturday morning, nearly a 13-hour delay in which parents claim the kids hadn’t eaten a proper meal in 24 hours.
American Airlines promises to do better in the future, as Feinstein tells USA TODAY, “Our team is in the process of reaching out to the families involved and sincerely apologizes for this travel experience. We will be reviewing with our teams internally to understand how we can do better next time.”