After flight attendants waved a 12-year-old off a plane without a parent or guardian, the child was allegedly “lost” by American Airlines at Miami International Airport. The mother of the child has called the way AA treated her daughter “total abandonment” and “an absolute failure.”
After dropping off her 12-year-old daughter at the Chattanooga airport in Tennessee on Saturday to board an American Airlines trip to Miami, where her father would pick her up, the incident took place.
Although Monica wasn’t flying with her daughter, American Airlines provides an “unaccompanied minor” service for youngsters under the age of 18 who are flying alone.
The ‘unaccompanied minor’ or ‘UM’ service includes escorting the youngster to and off the airplane by flight attendants or gate staff. A staff member is supposed to accompany the UM to their guardian upon arrival at the location and confirm their identity to ensure the child is being given over to the proper person.
The child must wear a lanyard around their neck with a huge label clearly designated UM in bold capital letters to ensure that no one forgets or misidentifies a UM. The child’s name, flight information, and next-of-kin details are listed on the reverse.
Gilliam claims that after landing in Miami on this particular flight, flight attendants just “waved” her daughter off the aircraft unaccompanied.
“Almost an hour after her flight landed, I got a call from American Airlines… it was the (American Airlines manager at Miami and he says ‘your child is missing, we’ve shut down the terminal, we don’t know where she is,” Gilliam said in a TikTok video.
“It turns out that the flight attendants waved her off the plane and said ‘bye’ and she said she didn’t know what to do so she kept going because they were telling her ‘bye’ so she kept walking.”
“So she’s going through the airport with that billboard on her, that she was an unaccompanied minor in one of the largest human trafficking hubs in the country,” Gilliam explained in the short two-minute video.
“(The child’s father) finally got her but on the way out no American Airlines employee stopped her to see if she had an adult, not one Miami airport employee stopped her and even the TSA security agent before she left the secure area into baggage reclaim stopped her.”
Strangely, several commentators criticized Gilliam, blaming her for the incident because she didn’t accompany her daughter on the trip. Others, though, defended her, claiming she should be able to rely on AA’s promises.
The actual airline that flew the flight was Republic Airways, which operates regional flights for American Airlines under the American Eagle brand. Along with servicing regional flights for AA, Republic Airways also works with Delta and United Airlines.
American Airlines claims it has contacted Gilliam to learn more about the allegations and is “taking it very seriously.”
In an emailed statement, a spokesperson for the airline told: “American cares deeply about our young passengers and is committed to providing a safe and pleasant travel experience for them.”
“We take these matters very seriously and are looking into what occurred. A member of our team has reached out to the customer to learn more about their experience.”