Monica Gilliam dropped off her 12-year-old daughter at a Tennessee airport to fly to Miami to meet her father.
Since she was flying by herself, Monica used American Airlines “unaccompanied minor” services to ensure her daughter made it onto the plane and safely arrived to her father who would be meeting her at the airport.
But instead, American Airlines let her deboard the plane alone – and admitted they had lost her.
One can’t imagine the fear that would run through a mother’s mind if they were to receive the dreaded phone call that their child was in danger.
It has got to be the most helpless and paralyzing feeling – especially when it’s due to the negligence of someone else.
The entire point of airlines offering unaccompanied minor services (which isn’t free by the way) – is to take on the responsibility of ensuring a child safely boards the plane and makes it safely to the proper adult arranged to pick them up.
The child even wears an “unaccompanied minor” badge around their neck so all airline personnel know to pay extra attention.
But clearly, the system is broken.
Monica describes the moment she received a call from American Airlines informing her they lost her daughter.
Paddle Your Own Kanoo reported:
“Almost an hour after her flight landed, I got a call from American Airlines… it was the (American Airlines manager at Miami and he says ‘your child is missing, we’ve shut down the terminal, we don’t know where she is’,” Gilliam said in a TikTok video.
“It turns out that the flight attendants waved her off the plane and said ‘bye’ and she said she didn’t know what to do so she kept going because they were telling her ‘bye’ so she kept walking.”
“So she’s going through the airport with that billboard on her, that she was an unaccompanied minor in one of the largest human trafficking hubs in the country,” Gilliam explained in the short two-minute video.”
Miami International Airport is one of the busiest airports in the world – and one can’t imagine how scared this 12-year-old must have been to navigate it alone.
Thankfully, the young girl was unharmed and was able to find her father.
But with human-trafficking ramping up at airports – this poor 12-year-old could have easily been swooped up by a predator and this story would have had a horrible and tragic ending.
Airlines have got to do better in ensuring things like this never happen.
Parents pay for the unaccompanied minor services to entrust their most precious cargo, their own children, into the hands of capable adults.
For flight attendants to “overlook” this poor girl and wave her off the plane is gross negligence.
While mistakes happen and there’s always time for grace – when it comes to the safety of children – there isn’t room for error or mistakes.
(h/t Proud American Traveler)