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COMPLAINT: Not properly chaperoned

 
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  #1  
Old Feb 5, 2011, 6:00 PM
Christine. Christine. is offline
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 2

My daughter and her friend, both 15 yrs old, flew from Ottawa,Ont. to Orlando, Florida with a stop over in Chicago with American Airlines. They were flying alone which neither had done before so we paid for them to have a chaperone. We were told that someone would be with them at all times and would help them through everything. It was a day after Chicago was hit with the huge storm and I inquired as to what would happen if the flight from Chicago to Orlando was delayed and was told that they would put them on the next flight available and that in the meantime they would be put in a room for children. They were escorted through customs and got on the plane with a friendly lady. Once on the plane however, the girls were left to themselves. Normally not an issue however there was a problem with the plane not being able to turn so their flight was going to be delayed and they would not make their connection. No one came to talk to the girls who were scared because they had just heard over the speaker all of this! So they had no idea what was going to happen now that they missed their flight and my daughter's friend was on the phone with her mum scared because of the mechanical issues.
The girls land in Chicago and are taken to a security room (not a room for children like we were told)
The next three hours turned into a complete nightmare!
The girls were hungry as with the delay it was almost dinner (our time). My daughter's friend asked her chaperone if they could get something to eat and she said she'd get someone to take them...and proceeded to do nothing but sit there! Her mother at that point called the airlines 1-800 # and was put through to the Chicago desk and demanded that they get taken to eat!
In this "room" there were people swearing, an older gentleman trying to escape and then at one point went and peed with the door open, people were sick (colds) and the staff were busy "hooking up"
My daughter was sending me texts saying she was really creeped out and at this point, angry because we were told that they would be in a kid room
and they clearly were not, I called the 1-800 #.
I was put in touch with a supervisor who was in North Carolina, so he could not see what was going on anymore than I could. I told him what I was being told and we called the girl in charge of the girls. She was told what my daughter was texting me and denied everything. My daughter was then put on the phone and questioned. She admitted to over-exaggerating about the hooking up part but said that the other things had happened. She would not talk about it and then texted me that she just wanted me to drop it because she was worried they were going to freak out. The chaperone continued to deny everything. (I don't know many 15 yr old girls who wouldn't be scared to complain about what the person who is supposed to be taking care of them is doing when they are by themselves in a different country with people they don't know - my opinion). Because my daughter would not say anything the supervisor would not believe what she had said to me and blew me off. Told the chaperone that she "should" report it to her supervisor there. He then told me that my daughter was not being honest and that he would not take her word. My arguement...but you will take what the other girl is saying as the truth...end of conversation with that supervisor.
My daughter then texts me to say that the staff is now laughing and speaking in spanish and staring at them. She's very uncomfortable and just wants to leave. She then texts me to say the chaperone then speaks to her supervisor.
After a few minutes, both myself and the other parent get texts from the girls saying that the chaperone is now agreeing with them and both parties have apologized.
I proceed to call the 1-800 # and get transferred to the same supervisor. I tell him that we have now been told that the chaperone is agreeing that the girls were telling the truth and I want a full refund for their flights home as we do not want them going through that again and what has gone on is unacceptable. He tells me he has no report telling him that she has admitted to it and will not take what my daughter has said. I say fine, then lets get the chaperone back on the phone. He says, he can't do that but if my daughter can get me the chaperones supervisors name then he will follow up. At this point, the girls are on their next flight so I can't get that information. I ask why could he get the girl before but not now. He tells me the airport is shutting down in an hour (it was 9pm Chicago time) and he won't do it, to get the name from my daughter and call him the next day. I had also told him about the other parent having to call about getting them food, he says he sees no report of that call. I said fine, I will have the parent call you immediately. I hang up, the parent calls immediately, asks for him and is placed on hold for 1/2 hr only to be passed on to another supervisor.

The other parent followed up the next day and after speaking to a supervisor at the same level as the one I dealt with, she was shocked and our chaperone fee will be refunded. The parent was also told that they had read the supervisor's (the one I spoke to) report and he was very condescending. The parent was told however that due to the type of ticket we purchased she did not have the authority to refund the tickets but if she had, she would have gladly done so as she was shocked by the treatment. She told her that we would have to file a complaint via email and said that she would pass on her recommendation to refund us the money for the return airfares.

I have submitted the complaint and will wait to see what happens.
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  #2  
Old Feb 6, 2011, 12:28 PM
DazedNadConfused DazedNadConfused is offline
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 41

Sonds like a nightmare for the families and the children. While I have no advice for the follow-up I will offer a suggestion to you and others that have minors fly unaccompanied.

To avoid this type of problem the parent(s) can retain the services of an escort. For the price of expenses and a nominal fee one can purchase peice of mind. When I state "escort" I am sure images come to mind but I am referring to a professional security provider that is experienced in facilitating travel for individuals. NOT a "bodyguard" - but a true professional that will follow the letter of the "law" set by the parents. This person would be able to obtain medical care (if needed), change flights, certainly have the minors fed when hungry, and provide immediate and accurate information to all concerned parties.
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  #3  
Old Feb 7, 2011, 5:23 AM
Jetliner Jetliner is offline
Former Airline Employee (NOT OFFICIAL REP)
 
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 495

First of all, no airline has a service to have someone sit with your child at all times. What they do is make sure that off the plane they are not able to wander by themselves. Also they DO NOT have stray, sick adults just hanging around the room where the kids are at. The general public is not able to enter the rooms where the unaccompanied minors are held.

You daughter admitted to making up part of this, do you not think it's possible she made up the rest? And think about it for a moment. Your daughter is describing some "security room" with adults in it. Where in the airport is there ever any such side room for the public to use? Never. An older gentleman trying to escape? Why would there be an adult in such a room?

As for people with colds, yes people get colds in the winter. So do some kids in the UM room. That's life. You daughter was in an airport, not a hospital.

I'm not saying that her whole trip was roses, but you can rest assured she was being very much so less than truthful with you.
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  #4  
Old Feb 12, 2011, 4:42 AM
Christine. Christine. is offline
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 2

I am assuming you missed the part where I stated that the chaperone at the airport admitted that my daughter and her friend were telling the truth...we also found out two days later that at one point they were left alone in that room with other adults unsupervised. We understood completely that it was not always the same person, but were told there would be someone with them.

Regardless, the airlines must have felt that they were in error as two days after I sent my complaint in, I received a response that what went on was unacceptable, the staff would be spoken to and we would be refunded the un-used portion of our tickets, which is what we asked for.
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