LONGVIEW, Wash. (KOIN) — Some local parents are frustrated with American Airlines after a group of kids with disabilities were stranded for hours at an East Coast airport.
The group of 9 kids were recently supposed to fly into Portland International Airport but were instead delayed during a layover in Charlotte, North Carolina.
All of the children, who are from Oregon and Southwest Washington, have a genetic disorder called neurofibromatosis. They spent last week at a summer camp called Camp New Friends in Charlottesville, Virginia.
The Dino Doozer Foundation paid extra money for American Airline tickets allowing the kids to fly as unaccompanied minors. The parents told KOIN 6 News they made the airline aware of their kids’ medical needs and the children followed instructions to check their bags at the boarding gate.
But the parents said flight attendants failed to notify them when the flight was delayed in Charlotte.
The kids said they sat in a plane on the tarmac at one point for 5 hours before being escorted off the plane and into a room for unaccompanied minors where they were told to sleep for the night. The lights were left on in the room all nights, the kids said, and they weren’t given proper meals, enough bathroom breaks or access to their medication.
“I got a text from her that said, ‘Mommy, I’m so hungry, I haven’t had lunch dinner or breakfast,'” mom Christa Monteith said.
The parents also claimed the airline didn’t help their kids charge their phones to contact their families and were also rude when parents started calling the airline and airport for help.
“If [American Airline’s] policy is that you pay 300-and-some-odd dollars for some unaccompanied minor fee and all that is is just a name on a sheet — and they couldn’t care less what happens to 9 chronically-ill children — then they need to change their policy,” said Maggie Kennedy, the community relations director at the Dino Doozer Foundation.
American Airlines sent KOIN 6 News the following statement:
“Unfortunately, after boarding flight 1736 from Charlotte to Portland on Friday experienced a mechanical delay that caused it to remain in Charlotte overnight. The children were kept in our dedicated unaccompanied minor room where they were kept safe and comfortable in the care of American Airlines personnel at all times.
Our team is in the process of reaching out to the families involved and sincerely apologizes for this travel experience. We will be reviewing with our teams internally to understand how we can do better next time.”