United Airlines sends 14-year-old boy traveling alone to the wrong country after charging $150 to watch over him
The boy was set to be put on a SAS flight to Sweden, however, United put him on a plane operated by German low-cost airline Eurowings headed for Düsseldorf
A 14-year-old boy who was traveling alone from North Carolina to Sweden was reportedly put on the wrong plane during a transfer at Newark Airport.
He then alerted the crew on the Germany-bound flight right before the takeoff.
The incident, involving three airlines, began when Anton boarded a United flight on Sunday with a codeshare ticket booked on Scandinavian carrier SAS.
The boy's mother, Brenda Berg, while talking to Business Insider, said that the carrier does not have direct service from Raleigh to Stockholm.
The boy was set to be put on a SAS flight to Sweden, however, United put him on a plane operated by German low-cost airline Eurowings headed for Düsseldorf.
"We booked him through SAS to visit his grandparents in Sweden,” Berg told USA Today in an email.
“SAS does not have an unaccompanied minor program for a 14-year-old. We intentionally booked a long layover in a domestic location, so it would be easy.”
She added that an unaccompanied minor attendant was set to take Anton to SAS Flight SK904 to Stockholm.
"According to my son, the UM agent took him from the UM room at Newark to the Eurowings flight to Germany that he boarded,” Berg said.
"The United agent handed my son’s paperwork to the agent at the gate, who immediately moved him onto the plane, apparently without looking at this UM paperwork." It was then when Anton realized he was on the wrong plane, he immediately "contacted a flight attendant, and the plane was turned around."
The SAS agents reportedly rebooked Anton, however, he had to wait for more than five hours for the next flight to Stockholm, the mother added.
Berg, who had become frantic at that point, detailed her son's ordeal on Twitter, writing: "@United @SAS my son is in the wrong plane!!! EWR you put him on a plane to Germany!!!!"
"They are booking him through Copenhagen. He will have 7 hours of additinal (sic) travel. Still NO one has called from @united. I finally got through to a rep after 52 minutes and i am back on hold. Warning to everyone. Never trust @United with your children,” she said in a tweet.
She then tagged a United manager, writing: "Ironically, @United if you hadn’t accompanied him, this would never have happened. He wouldn’t have counted on you to know what you were doing. #NeverUnitedAir."
According to United Airline's UM (Unaccompanied Minor) policy, its service is "required for children ages 5-14 who are traveling alone."
The program, for $150 each way, includes a wristband for a child to wear and special bag tags so that United employees can clearly identify they are unaccompanied.
"Unaccompanied minors can only travel on nonstop United or United Express flights and United does not offer unaccompanied minor service connecting to or from other airlines’ flights," according to the policy.
United released a statement after the incident, saying: "The safety and well-being of all of our customers is our top priority, and we have been in frequent contact with the young man’s family to confirm his safety and to apologize for this issue. Once Eurowings recognized he had boarded the wrong aircraft in Newark, the plane returned to the gate — before taking off. Our staff then assisted the young customer to ensure that he boarded the correct rebooked flight later that evening. We have confirmed that this young customer safely reached his destination.”