CHARLOTTE (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — A Florida mother is suing American Airlines after she claims her two children, both under the age of 16, were left in a cold ‘lost children’s room’ overnight with no food or water, at CLT Airport after several flight delays, court documents state.
According to court records, the two children referred to as J.V. and R.V., who live with their mother in Jacksonville, Florida, were flying as unaccompanied minors with American Airlines on July 30, 2022, from Missouri, where they visited their father, to Syracuse, New York to see family.
The flight to Syracuse was not a direct flight but had a connecting flight with a layover in Charlotte, documents state.
The original flight from Missouri to Charlotte was flight AA 5302 and the connecting flight from Charlotte to Syracuse was flight AA 1976. court records said. The flight from Missouri to Charlotte was delayed, and then the flight from Charlotte to Syracuse was delayed several times before it was finally canceled.
Court documents state that someone with American Airlines had notified a specific family member because they were listed as the person for pick-up in Syracuse, and said that the children would be on a flight from Charlotte to Syracuse the next day on July 31, 2022, at 9 a.m.
American Airlines reportedly sent an email to the children’s mother at 11:38 p.m., saying the two children would be on a 5:21 p.m. flight on July 31, 2022.
The family was told that the two children would “be in a nice room for unaccompanied minors where there were beds and their own bathroom.” The family was also given a phone number that was supposed to be a direct line to where the children would be.
Due to conflicting information about the flight on July 31, the mother states in court documents that she had no idea what flight her children would actually be on.
When the children’s mother tried to call the direct line given, there was no response, documents said. The mother was reportedly not able to get in touch with anyone and had no idea where her children were at the CLT Airport.
Records state that the mother was finally able to reach a kind CLT Airport employee who was able to get her in touch with her children. Once in contact with her kids, she discovered that they hadn’t had anything to eat or drink since the night before, not even a pretzel or snacks.
Documents state the room the children were placed in was “akin to a jail cell, without any blankets, pillows, or toiletries,” and “freezing.” The children reportedly “spent the night on the sofa with the lights on.”
The children were eventually given food and water by an airport employee. Documents said the children were able to board a flight to Syracuse where they were picked up by family.
Following the ordeal, the lawsuit states that American Airlines apologized and said they would refund $150 that had been paid for a chaperone.
“The defendant violated their own policies and procedures when they misplaced the plaintiff’s children. Particularly offensive is that after learning of their clear failures, the defendant merely offered a hollow apology and a refund, in essence telling the plaintiff, sorry we lost your kids lady but here is your money back,” the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit claims American Airlines launched no investigation as to how this happened, how to avoid this from happening again in the future, or how to improve the unaccompanied minor service.
Following this incident, the lawsuit states that the two children have become afraid of flying and will only fly on a direct flight if necessary, fearful they will be lost or abandoned.
American Airlines released the following statement to Queen City News:
“The safety and comfort of our customers, including unaccompanied minors in our care, are our highest priorities and we’re committed to providing a positive experience to everyone who travels with us. We have been in touch with Ms. Vencill directly and we are reviewing the details of the lawsuit.”