Continental sends two unaccompanied minors to wrong city

kknyJune 17, 2009

For all those who blasted me about concerns about kids flying alone -- and blame either mom or the kids

HOUSTON Â Continental Airlines is blaming "miscommunication among staff" for two different unaccompanied girls being placed on wrong Continental Express flights over the weekend.

Eight-year-old Taylor Williams of College Station ended up in Fayetteville, Ark., instead of Charlotte, N.C., on Saturday. She was sent back to Houston and then to Charlotte to see her father.

Her mother, Wendy Babineaux, says she's never seen "so much incompetence in all my life."

The next day 10-year-old Miriam Kamens, taking off from Logan Airport in Boston, was sent to Newark, N.J., instead of Cleveland to visit her grandparents.

Jonathan Kamens says for 45 minutes no one could tell him where his daughter was.

Continental spokeswoman Kelly Cripe says both flights were being loaded at the same time from the same doorway.

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loading two planes at the same time from the same doorway! How dumb is that... I know some adults that would end up on the wrong flight.

I'm not sure what the airline's policy is, but if they allowed mom/dad to take child to the gate & get them on the plane... and dad/mom was waiting at the receiving gate, there should not be these kinds of problems. Kids that young should not have connections. Parents should split the cost of one of them accompanying the kids that young. I would say 12 or 13 might be old enough to travel alone... but there really is no specific age, I guess it depends on the maturity of the child. (and of course, the length of the flight)

    Bookmark   June 17, 2009 at 9:02AM
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Ima, I recall a while back when I was getting blasted for suggesting 10 NOT OK.

They will never allow a parent to get on plane with kid (my post 9/11 experience) -- the most they will do is get you a "gate pass" which means you can accompany the child through security to the area by the gate.

I dont think parents should split cost -- I think whoever moved away (wthere mom or dad ) -- it should be on them.

And yes, I worry about my elderly mother flying -- last year I wondered -- would it be to humuiliating to pin a note with her destination on her jacket?

    Bookmark   June 17, 2009 at 9:08AM
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kkny, I missed when you got blasted for your opinion, but I have to disagree with you. My DD has been flying on her own since age 6, and we've never had a problem. We take her to the gate and wait for the plane to take off. And yes, she does connections. It is not feasible, cost or time-wise, for many parents to accompany the child, nor do I think it necessary. Incompetence happens in all aspects of life. While the 2 incidents in the article are unfortunate, that does not mean that the unaccompanied minors policy is bad. What about the tens of thousands(+?) of unaccompanied minors flying each year without incident? If the parents do have the time, means, and inclination to accompany the child until an older age, then that's on them and they can make whatever financial arrangements that they can agree on. But to say that the parent who moved away should be stuck with the bill isn't justified by anything. Not to mention that it doesn't take into account other situations, e.g., when the parents never lived together in the same state or both parents moved to different states. Exceptions and isolated instances should not dictate rules.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2009 at 9:26AM
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When bm in our case moved out of state she wanted the kids to fly out to her by themselves. They were 12, 10, and 4. We said heck no!! The 12 year old is not old enough to babysit our 4 year old, so why would we put her in charge of both her siblings on a plane. I know a flight attendant is supposed to be "watching" them, but that makes us nervous.

And as far as cost, bm in our case has never paid cs and she was the one who moved out of state. We would not pay anything towards the childrens travel expenses to see her. She chose to move.....why should that choice cost us more money??

I think if a parent makes the choice to move out of state then they should be responsible for the travel expenses of their child.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2009 at 9:35AM
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"loading two planes at the same time from the same doorway! How dumb is that... I know some adults that would end up on the wrong flight. "

Been there.
Done that.
Have the red face to prove it ;-)

You know that part of the safety speech where the flight attendants say "If there's anyone here who's not going to Denver..."?

Just thinking about it still makes me blush!

    Bookmark   June 17, 2009 at 9:45AM
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It doesnt make the news every time there is a problem. My D got lost when the airline combined two flights becuase of bad weather. They tried to tell X she wasnt on flight. She was. The new flight attendant didnt know they had UM on board. And UMs have been molested by other passengers on flights. It happens. The flight attendant is not a dedicated babysitter. He or she is there for all the passengers. They do not add extra personnel for UMs.

As to who should pay for transport -- I think that parent who never lived togethor are an isolate case. If both move, then they should split. But if only one moves, that one should pay transport costs. I hear sometimes, well to get a job or a better job, I had to move. Well OK, but then transport costs should be factored in. The parent NOT moving didnt get a raise becuae the other one moved.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2009 at 10:06AM
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Oooh Sweeby! LOL, I've done that too!

And recently, after the plane took off and the pilot was giving his welcome and saying we would land in Houston in 2 hours yada yada I started panicking because I wasn't going to Houston! Turned out it was a layover for me, but my itinerary had zip, zero, nothing about a layover! The flight attendant said that they don't always show layovers anymore? Um, ok? LOL, but yep that would make me nervous about sending DD alone.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2009 at 10:59AM
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"loading two planes at the same time from the same doorway! How dumb is that... I know some adults that would end up on the wrong flight"

Happened to me and my mom years ago, as well.

We were flying to Grand Cayman, connecting through Atlanta. Two planes were boarding from a split gate. We got on the plane, and thankfully, I happened to hear the pilot say something about "should be a smooth flight to Tampa."


We were able to get off and switched to our correct flight easily.

It totally can happen.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2009 at 11:03AM
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I m in your camp KKNY..I would be terrified to send my kid on a plane alone, just would have to make other arrangements..My parents sent myself and two brothers (we were 8,9, and 10)across the country on a train. I heard the name of the state I knew we were going to called and tried to get off, hundreds of miles from our destination. Luckily an alert conductor stopped us....It was a much safer time, but I often think WHAT were they thinking??? SO many places on a train to molest a child..As to your elderly mom traveling, I think a note on her jacket would embarrass her, with my elderly dad, I used a wrist band with destination, name , address..Not too obvious, but visible if he got confused....

    Bookmark   June 17, 2009 at 11:05AM
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dotz, thanks for the tip. We also book her from the really small airport near me. Also her hearing isnt so good, she wont get a hearing aid, but just smiles and nods when she doesnt hear you.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2009 at 11:34AM
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I hear what KKNY says, but we all are world travelers and I guess i just don't see flying as a big deal.

DD started flying at 10-11 and flew reguraly several times a year OVERSEES and those were connected flights 10 hours total. DD was very intelligent and mature for her age in terms of knowing who to ask for help, who to talk to and she never had tendency to panic.

Now i am not uncarrying careless parents neither is Xhusband, in fact I am often overly protective mother. As about the cost it is not always the reason, it is just not practuically doable or reasonable to fly an adult back and forth.

Things happen. Tragedies happen. i am a paranoid type fo mother if I call and DD doesn't pick up the phone i think something happened to her. DD21 flies all over the world now and i still am constantly paranoid if she gets to her destination. Bot sometimes it is what it is. One can get in a car accident right next to their house.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2009 at 9:10AM
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