SAN FRANCISCO (Fox News) - Two furious parents claim that Alaska Airlines recently “lost” track of their 13-year-old daughter during a layover in San Francisco, though they had paid an unaccompanied-minor fee for the teen’s trip.
Maria and Douglas Davila’s young daughter traveled alone on a cross-country flight late last week from Raleigh-Durham International Airport in North Carolina to Spokane, Wash., WTVD reports. Due to a mechanical issue, the plane made a stopover at San Francisco International Airport, where the alleged mishap reportedly happened, reported TravelPulse.
According to the outlet, Douglas was surprised to receive a call from his child from an unknown number. The teen claimed she had been left alone, without supervision or direction from Alaska Airlines staffers, during the layover. Frightened and confused, a passerby lent the girl his cell phone, eventually escorting her to the carrier’s customer service counter.
"It's hard when you hear your son or daughter say 'I'm by myself in San Francisco,'" Douglas told WTVD. "My heart was in my throat. I was shaking."
Soon after, Maria claimed that they received a phone call from an Alaska Airlines rep, who offered a different account of events.
“[They said] she was lost, not even stating she was alone, just acting as if there was an issue with the flight,” the mom said, detailing that the rep asked the Davilas’ permission to put the girl on another flight.
The couple felt frustrated, as they had paid the carrier a $75 unaccompanied minor fee in advance, to ensure the girl would be escorted by an airline employee through her trip, TravelPulse reports. The fee was supposed to guarantee a gate escort and guardian contact for the girl through her travels, according to the airline’s policy on the topic.
While the parents were successfully refunded the $75 charge, they now believe that their daughter’s entire trip deserves to be refunded, according to WTVD.
When contacted for comment, a rep for the carrier offered Fox News the following statement on the family's allegations:
"Caring for a child flying alone, without a guardian, is our top priority. We view them as the most precious cargo,” a spokesperson said on Aug. 27. “Our investigation, which includes specific records that tracked the movement of our young guest, indicates employees did meet her when her flight arrived and escorted her to our Service Center at San Francisco International Airport.”
"Our guest was asked to wait with employees at the Service Center, as her connecting flight to Seattle was delayed for 1.3 hours due to a mechanical issue. While we had tabs on our young guest the entire time, we understand that she may have felt unsupervised in the crowded area and for that we are deeply sorry,” they continued. “We also think we could have done a better job communicating with her."
"Given her experience, we are carefully evaluating our chain of custody procedures for unaccompanied minors making connections through SFO and will strengthen processes to make sure our young guests feel safe and attended to at all times while they are in our care," the rep concluded.
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