Unaccompanied 9-year-old Chloe Boyce, from Clarksville Tennessee, spent five hours stranded in Baltimore after her Southwest flight was rerouted between Nashville and New York but her awaiting family was never told.
Chloe Boyce’s flight arrived without her on it and the Southwest attendants couldn’t say where she was.
“The flight arrived and my daughter didn’t get off,” Chloe Boyce’s mother Elena Kerr told MSNBC.
“Someone went on the plane to see if she was there and my sister called me and said, <<Where’s Chloe?>>” Elena Kerr recalled, leading her to question her sister who had been sent to retrieve her daughter in New York.
“The Southwest guys told her there were no unaccompanied minors on that flight,” she explained, to her full family’s horror.
Despite scheduled stops in Columbus and Baltimore, Chloe Boyce’s mother was neither told her daughter would have to get off the plane nor was her daughter authorized to according to the airline’s policy on unaccompanied minors.
But when fog hit Columbus, Chloe Boyce’s Southwest flight additionally landed in Cleveland, prompting the later delay in Baltimore.
Elena Kerr says she frantically called Southwest but it took them an hour to track her daughter’s location down and even longer than that to give her an explanation on what had happened.
“It was like the scariest moment of my life to think that they didn’t know where she was,” Elena Kerr told ABC news.
“We just don’t understand why we weren’t called, especially because the Southwest policy states that someone must be available to answer phone calls during the flight time in the event of a flight irregularity,” she told MSNBC.
In addition to apologizing to Chloe Boyce’s family, Southwest has refunded the cost of their ticket as well.
“Our unaccompanied minor policy aims to minimize these kinds of situations … by only ticketing them on itineraries that don’t require an aircraft change,” Southwest spokesperson Brad Hawkins wrote in an email to MSNBC.
“In this case, the unscheduled change of planes resulted in the connection, a delay and distress for the family which we certainly regret and have apologized for in our conversation with the family of our customer,” Brad Hawkins stated.
In addition, a pilot in Baltimore who was alerted to Chloe Boyce’s situation walked her to a nearby airport Chili’s for dinner, according to her mother, making the girl as comfortable as possible.
It wasn’t Chloe Boyce’s first unaccompanied flight, yet despite the company’s apologies, her mother says it may be her last.
”I’m going to be driving the 17 hours to New York to get her,” she told MSNBC.
Southwest’s rules on unaccompanied minors:
“Unaccompanied Minors are allowed to travel on only nonstop or same-plane service (makes one or two stops but does not require a change of planes or flight number).”
Chloe Boyce disembarking her flight in Baltimore to change planes was an admitted mistake by the airline.
Southwest says they “will not transport UMs on flights that may be diverted or cancelled due to inclement weather or other operational abnormalities”.
That policy on possible diversions and/or cancellations is in place to minimize situation is like Chloe Boyce’s.