A North Carolina father received the shock of a lifetime when he got a phone call notifying him that his 13-year-old daughter was left alone crying in a San Francisco airport.
Douglas Davila’s daughter was headed from Raleigh-Durham International Airport to Spokane, Wash., with a layover in San Francisco. Though the family paid the unaccompanied minor fee, the young girl says she was never escorted by an Alaska Airlines representative. Distraught, she found a Good Samaritan who let her use his cell phone.
"It's hard when you hear your son or daughter say, 'I'm by myself in San Francisco,’” Douglas Davila told WTVD. "My heart was in my throat. I was shaking."
A PARENT’S WORST NIGHTMARE: A flight from RDU took a chaotic turn for a 13 year old who landed in California alone. Douglas and Maria Davila say they paid @AlaskaAir an unaccompanied minor fee, but those services weren’t provided. Story tonight at 11 on #abc11. pic.twitter.com/Bpf3K1HsUw— Akilah Davis (@DavisABC11) August 23, 2019
The Alaska Airlines website claims that those who pay the $75 unaccompanied minor fee can trust their constant supervision. “Once you've handed your child over to our care, he or she will remain under supervision at all times,” the website reads.
While the airline refunded the $75 fee to Davila, they responded in a statement claiming Davila’s daughter actually was met by an Alaska Airlines employee at San Francisco International Airport. However, they say she was asked to wait during a delay due to a mechanical issue.
"Caring for a child flying alone, without a guardian, is our top priority. We view them as the most precious cargo. 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,” Alaska Airlines said in a statement sent to WDTV.
"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. 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."
According to WTVD, the family would like to receive a full refund for the flight, in addition to the refund for the unaccompanied minor fee.
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