9-year-old Forgotten at Chicago Airport

Posted Jul 27th 2010 11:03 AMUpdated Jul 27th 2010 11:33 AM

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A 9-year-old boy who was forgotten by United Airlines at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport tells the Chicago Tribune he wants the carrier to "never have a delay again and give me first-class seats on every single plane I go on for the rest of my life."

The 4th grader, Julien Reid, was flying alone from San Francisco to Ottawa on United, via O'Hare, when he was escorted to a lounge for children and those with special needs, and forgotten, the newspaper reports.

For more than eight hours he watched two videos over and over, a wrestling match and a horror movie, while he waited for his flight.

Reid had been headed from his father's home to meet his mother in Canada. According to the Tribune, he arrived in Chicago around 11:30 a.m., and was scheduled to board his second flight at 1:45 p.m., but the connecting flight was delayed.

The boy called his mom on a cell phone his parents had provided to tell her of the delay. The flight eventually departed, but when Genevieve Harte arrived at the airport in Ottawa to pick up her son she found he was still in Chicago.

"He didn't know he was being forgotten; everybody kept telling him his flight was delayed. ...Hours went by. He was completely unaware," Harte tells the Tribune.

She called her son and asked him to pass the phone to an attendant, who eventually got Reid on a flight, but not without some complaining about how busy she was, Harte tells the newspaper. She says at one point her son was in tears. The boy finally arrived home around 11 p.m.

"I thought I wasn't going to make it home. I thought I was going to have to sleep there," Reid told the Tribune of his ordeal, from his home in Ottawa. "I was happy to be on the plane and get here."

A United spokeswoman, Megan McCarthy, says the carrier apologized for the incident, was investigating how it happened and had refunded a $100 child care fee. She says United also offered the family a "good will gesture."

Harte, however, says the carrier didn't offer anything.

Photo, endlisnis, flickr
Filed Under: News

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tempgirl

This poor kid, he had to be terrified. Unreal. Those friggin idiots. U offer the service, but don't perform it. I'd sue, just to teach them a lesson. My son used to fly a lot and this has never happened, but I got lucky. Those idiots. Sue their azzes. Maybe they'll remember next time. and fire the idiot who should've been checking on him. Jerk.

August 15 2010 at 3:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Holly

It is just amazing how many people comment on articles without reading and understanding the whole article.
1. The parent did not drop the child off alone at the airport. The child was put on the plane by his mother. He had a CONNECTING flight and the airline was to make sure he got on the next plane. The parent paid for the service that the airline agreed to perform. The airline took him to a lounge and left him there with no follow through. In addition, the airline is ripping the parent's off. Southwest made sure my 16 year old got where she was going, for free.
2. To the people who keep saying the parent needs to accompany the child: In todays economy? The mom lives in San Francisco, the dad lives in Canada. So what people are suggesting is that one of the parents pay at least $500 each way several times a year to fly with their child to the other parent. What's the total cost on that, $3,000.00? Is the parent supposed to take all this time off work to go on these flights only to turn back around? I don't know about any of you but my income went down after my divorce, not up.
3. Reminder: Visitation to the other parent is a LEGAL requirement ordered by the court. The court orders one of the parent's to pay the cost or for them to split it, etc. They have NO choice to send the child or not unless they want to go to jail. Where would the child be then. Also, the court doesn't order the parent to take flights with the child. Would your ex pay for your two-way plane ticket? Mine wouldn't.
4. To the people who are saying that the mom should have called, the dad should have called the child should have said something, and so on, READ the story. The child was told the plane was delayed. The child called the mom to tell her the flight was delayed. The flight WAS delayed but the child was not placed on the plane when it finally took off. The mother went to pick the child up when the DELAYED plane landed. Only then did she find out her son was not onboard.
5. Finally to the person who said what do you expect for $100, It was only supposed to be an 2 hours and 15 minutes between flights. He would have been in the lounge for about an hour. I don't know many people that make $100.00 an hour for such a simple task. That's a $200K job. I'd love to have that job, wouldn't you?

August 11 2010 at 4:30 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
diana johnston

I think it's about time the airlines stopped providing a baby sitting service to parents that dump their kids off at the airport and expect the airlines to look after them. High speed trains throughout Europe don't provide this service. What if there's an emergency landing and the planes on fire. The airline staff are overwhelmed with having to provide one on one care to kids that should always be in the company of a family member. Then when things go wrong they blame the airlines. This is absurd and I don't care how much more you paid for this service. Sorry KIDDIES but if the plane is being evacuated, I'll be the one scrambling over you to get off the dam plane. You'll have to fend for yourself!

August 08 2010 at 11:17 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Russ


Let's look at this in another way ... criminally .. .. .. !

Anyone hear "Child Endangerment" or "Child Abandonment"?

If the child was left for more than two hours between meals and snacks and bathroom breaks, there are more charges to add of abandonment.

If I accept money as part of a contract to provide service, then the company I am an Agent for, becomes fully responsible, even if that responsibility is sub-contracted, delegated. This is similar to the Captain of a ship or plane is solely responsible for all actions of the crew.

If they don't want the responsibility, the airlines should not offer the product. When things go wrong, sorry Charlie, the lawyer's abilities are the limit, unless the company does provide a Substantial compensation.

To "7.28.2010 @ 8:34AM by M"

who wrote (in part)
"Parents, get off you lazy a#$% .. .. .."

The company offered a product and therefore a contract. If there had not been the product, air transportation with supervision, the parents would not have paid for the service. I sincerely hope you do not have children until you become more understanding and compassionate. If you do have children already, I pity them.

--- ---

August 05 2010 at 12:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Kat

Do you people commenting here not know how to read? The boy was flying from 'Frisco to Ottawa. Chicago was a layover. Nobody 'dumped' their kid at a gate. The child was supposed to be attended to his departure gate and from his arrival gate when he arrived in Chicago. If they can't manage this service they shouldn't offer it. Period.

United Express, which is a division of United Airlines, services Canadian destinations. They are absolutely the worst of the worst and the employee attitudes are shocking - even for Canadians (who are typically complacent or too darn polite to speak up when it comes to shoddy service). I have had numerous experiences with them flying from Canada to Cali on a fairly regular basis and have finally decided I will *never* fly United again. It takes me longer to get to my destination because of the lack of choices with my geographically impaired departure location BUT I have never had a single negative experience on any other airline. And I'm not talking about delays from weather.

United Express has more delays because of aircraft repairs than any other airline (in my encounters) and it would seem that United picks the worst of their employees to shuffle over to United Express.

Example? How about arriving in Denver to learn that there were people STILL waiting to fly to my destination from TWO DAYS prior because of mechanical issues. When I explained to the woman at the counter that I had to be home to pick up my daughter from school I got the following reply from her AND the woman beside her... Woman A: Well I'm going to be arriving home late tonight because of all this and my 11 year old is going to have to walk home by herself. Woman B: That was bad planning on your part.

I sure as heck would be suing if I was this kids parents. Someone needs to give their head a shake in upper management at this airline. And some people need to learn how to read.

July 29 2010 at 1:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Kat's comment
MARIE

KAT, I USE CAPS BECAUSE I DONT SEE WELL. MAKES IT EASIER FOR ME NOT TO MAKE ANY MISTAKES. YES I KNOW IT WOULD BE HARD IF DIVORCED PARENTS ARE LIVING FAR APART FROM EACH OTHER. BUT A 9 YEAR OLD IS TOO YOUNG TO BE SENT ALONE. IN THESE DAY ANY THING COULD HAPPEN TO A CHILD THAT AGE.

July 29 2010 at 8:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
MARIE

I PAY MORE ATTENTION TO MY DOG WHEN I TRAVEL.I AM SURPRISED THEY DIDNT PUT HIM IN THE LUGGAGE COMPARTMENT. WHEN MY GRAND CHILDREN WERE THAT YOUNG SOME ONE WENT WITH THEM AND THEN BACK HOME. IF YOU COULD NOT AFFORD THAT THEN DONT SEND THEM.
A GRAND MOTHER

July 29 2010 at 11:51 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to MARIE's comment
Kat

Seriously? And what are divorced parents living thousands of miles apart to do? Why the all caps? Are you that angry? The airline offers this service. The kids have to be a certain age. If its not possible for them to do this without screwing it up in a major way then they shouldn't offer the service. United Express is a joke.

July 29 2010 at 1:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Kay


The parents should sue the airline for child endangerment, and someone should go to jail. Whoever has accepted responsiblility for the welfare of a child also assumes risk. This child was endangered by being forgotten. Anyone could have walked off with him.

Return of $100? I say jail is more appropriate.

July 29 2010 at 7:15 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
chris

It doesn't make sense when people say it's the parents fault.

Regardless on whether or not it is "appropriate" to let a child fly alone, the parents PAID for the unaccompanied minor fee and did not receive the SERVICE they PAID FOR. Period. What's the point of that fee if the airline is not going to provide the SERVICE that they are supposedly giving to their clients? I'm sure that some kind of contract is signed, so I'm assuming that the airline is legally responsible for the child during that time period.

All these people hating on the parents... People watch over someone's children all the time, whether it be a child care center, a nursery, school, etc. I'm sure the mother would prefer to fly with her child, but many families don't have the luxury of doing that.

July 29 2010 at 3:09 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
A Pilot\'s Wife

Rob,

You're a complete idiot to state " The kid was late...big deal" First of all the paren't didn't just drop the kid off all alone, they paid the airlines for a service that they offer which is unaccompanied minor and its done every day on several flights. As a daughter of a UAL employee now retired, I flew for years alone and it's not that big of a deal and the majority of the time, the children are treated in a way that they get to experience a great vacation, hang out with crew and become a small celebrity on the flight. It is a fun experience for a child but the staff at ORD screwed up BIG TIME ! They were negligent, not the parents. They had every right to complain and they will be entitled to sue and 3rd, they should drop kick the dummy who deserted the child and forgot about him and kick his/her ass !!

July 29 2010 at 1:03 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Rob

Doesn't EVERYONE go to the airport KNOWING it will be somewhat unpredictable? Long lines, flight delays etc. The kid was late...big deal. The parent(s) have screwed up 3 times. 1st dropped a nine year old off all alone at the airport, 2nd complaining so much and taking it to the media, 3rd someone should have dropped to their knees and thanked god the child made it home safe and sound!

July 29 2010 at 12:15 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Rob's comment
Kat

READ the article again. They did not drop him at the airport alone. He was at O'Hare to catch a connecting flight. The airline was paid to escort him from his arrival gate to his connecting gate. And that's not all you missed.

July 29 2010 at 1:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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