Girl, 10, flying alone left stranded by airline staff at airport

Girl, 10, flying alone left stranded by airline staff at airportStock photo: Rex

A girl of 10 who was flying as an "unaccompanied minor" to summer camp in America was left stranded at Chicago airport after staff "forgot" to pick her up at the gate for her transfer flight.

Annie and Perry Klebhan dropped daughter Phoebe off at San Francisco International Airport on 30 June for her United Airlines flight to Chicago. She was then booked on a connecting flight to Michigan.

The Klebhans only realised their daughter had missed her connecting flight when the summer camp called them in a panic to say she had not arrived.

The couple went through a long and drawn-out process to talk to United to find out exactly what happened.

When Phoebe landed on time in Chicago, nobody showed up help her make her transfer flight. Annie and Perry were later told by United that the airline outsourced the unaccompanied minor services to a third-party vendor, who "forgot to show up."

The case was bought to light by the Klebhan's friend, Bob Sutton, a professor who writes about workplace issues, when he wrote about the incident on his blog.

Mr Sutton quoted from a complaint letter sent to the CEO of United to explain what happened when Phoebe found herself alone: "The attendants where busy and could not help her she told us. She told them she had a flight to catch to camp and they told her to wait. She asked three times to use a phone to call us and they told her to wait. When she missed the flight she asked if someone had called camp to make sure they knew and they told her 'yes-we will take care of it'. No one did. She was sad and scared and no one helped."

A United spokesperson told NBC News that they have apologised to the Klebahns, and the airline is redepositing the miles used to purchase the ticket into Perry Klebahn's frequent flier account.

They are is also refunding the $99 unaccompanied minor charge.

According to NBC News, United spokesperson Joe Micucci said in a statement: "What the Klebahns describe is not the service we aim to deliver to our customers."

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