A Parent’s Worst Nightmare: Alaska Airlines accused of abandoning 13-year-old at SFO

Caring for a child flying alone, without a guardian has been a top priority for Alaska Airlines but sometimes the slightest negligence can give parents the shock of a lifetime. A North Carolina father was terribly shocked when he got a phone call notifying him that his 13-year-old daughter was left alone crying in a San Francisco airport. The couple was furious and claimed that the American airline had deserted their unaccompanied child during her layover at SFO.

13-year-old abandoned at SFO

Douglas Davila’s daughter was flying from Raleigh-Durham International Airport to Spokane, Washington, with a layover in San Francisco. Douglas had paid the unaccompanied minor fee to have his daughter escorted by an Alaska Airlines representative to the next flight during her layover. But the teenager said that she was never escorted and was left in the airport alone. Distraught, she found a Good Samaritan who let her use his cell phone to call her family. The stranger escorted her to an Alaska Airlines customer service counter. To make matters worse, the airline representative told Douglas that his daughter was lost. Later, the teen’s mother said that the airline admitted to losing her child and that they needed permission to place her on a new flight due to mechanical issues on the aircraft.

Alaska Airlines customer service counter
Alaska Airlines customer service counter

Alaska Airlines refunded the $75 Fee

The airline charges unaccompanied minor service fee of $50 for nonstop or direct flights, and a fee of $75 per child for connecting flights. The service includes a gate escort and guardian contact. According to the airline’s policy, once a child is handed over to the airline representative, he or she remains under supervision at all times. Unfortunately, this was not in the case of Douglas’s daughter. However, the airline apologized for the inconvenience and refunded the $75 fee. It also investigated specific records that tracked the movement of the young passenger and indicated that employees did meet the child when her flight arrived and escorted her to the airline’s Service Center at San Francisco International Airport. She was asked to wait at the Service Center, as her connecting flight to Seattle was delayed for 1.3 hours due to a mechanical issue. While the airline staff had put tabs on the child the entire time, she might have felt unsupervised in the crowded area and broke down in tears.

Though the airline staff had done their job fairly well in escorting the unaccompanied minor and tracking her activity the entire time, it would have been a homely experience for the young passenger if the airline staff had done a better job communicating with her.


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