Medical Malpractice and Personal Injury Law Blog

Mother goes to airport to pick up child, is given wrong 5-year-old

Posted by Charles Gilman | Oct 07, 2016 | 0 Comments

A New York mother is suing JetBlue Airways, saying the carrier caused her “great emotional distress, extreme fear, horror, mental shock, mental anguish and psychological trauma” after she went to John F. Kennedy International Airport to pick up her 5-year-old son and the airline staff gave her the wrong child.

The mother and her son had travelled to the Dominican Republic in July for a vacation. The mother returned to New York after a week and left her son with family to finish out his summer vacation. When it was time for the boy to return to New York in August, family members in the Dominican Republic put the boy on the plane and stayed at the airport to make sure he left on time.

But when the plane touched down in New York, the boy was not on the plane. Instead JetBlue employees presented the waiting mother with another 5-year-old boy carrying her son's passport. Eventually airline personnel tracked down the panicked mother's child 214 miles away in Boston. Airline staffers did not explain how the mix-up occurred, but the boy who was sent to JFK airport was supposed to meet his family in Boston. It took three hours for JetBlue employees to untangle the mix-up.

The mother followed all of the airline's rules for booking a seat for an unaccompanied minor in addition to paying an extra $100 fee for a JetBlue representative to escort the boy onto the correct plane. Per JetBlue policy, family members dropping off and picking up the boy at each airport submitted photo identification and telephone numbers. The boy also was wearing a wristband with his name printed on it.

In lieu of an apology for the mix-up, the airline refunded the mother $475 for the cost of the boy's flight and gave her an additional $2,100 in airline credit, which she declined. Instead, the mother is suing for negligence which caused emotional distress. The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages.

Last year United Airlines lost track of an 11-year-old boy after the mother paid a $300 unaccompanied minor fee for her son to make a one-hour flight from Dulles Airport in Washington, D.C. to Newark Liberty Airport in New Jersey. The mother did not realize anything was wrong until she got texts from her son saying after he landed in New Jersey, he was let off the plain without the guaranteed escort from the airline.

Compounding the problem, an airport employee gave the grandfather in New Jersey the wrong gate number to pick up his grandson, and a customer service representative offered no help, telling the man he had to find the child himself. After about half an hour communicating with the boy via text message, the grandfather found him. After the incident, an airline spokesperson blamed the child for leaving the plane without his escort. In 2014, United Airlines changed it's unaccompanied minor policy to exclude trips that have connecting flights after employees lost track of a 10-year-old girl at a Chicago airport.

If you have suffered as a result of someone else's negligent or reckless behavior, you may be entitled to compensation. Call the offices of trial attorneys Charles Gilman and Briggs Bedigian at 1-800-529-6162 or contact them online. The firm handles cases in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C.

About the Author

Charles Gilman

As managing partner and co-founder of Gilman & Bedigian, it is my mission to help our clients recover and get their lives back on track. I strongly believe that every person who is injured by a wrongful act deserves compensation, and I will do my utmost to bring recompense to those who need and deserve it.

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