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Oops: Airline Loses Track Of Kid At O'Hare

By Marcus Gilmer in News on Jul 26, 2010 4:30PM

Photo by jp 42
United Airline workers at O'Hare are a bit red-faced after a weekend incident in which they lost track of a nine-year-old child for several hours. Julien Reid, splitting time between his mother's home in Ottawa and his father's home in San Francisco, was returning to Ottawa this weekend when a layover at O'Hare lasted a lot longer than it should have. After deplaning at O'Hare, Julien's connecting flight was delayed so he stayed in a room for unaccompanied minors and special needs flyers from which, according to an attendant Julien's mother spoke with, the airline apparently forgot to fetch him.

He was in a "tiny, little room cramped with kids," where they played the same video on a loop all day, he said. The only food he'd been given was McDonald's, a less than satisfactory option for a vegetarian like him. He said he and the other children were yelled at "to stop being kids."

Julien's mother, Genevieve Harte, has her own theory on what happened: the airline bumped him from the flight without notifying anyone. "It's a lot easier to have a kid that's not going to say anything than an adult who has a business meeting that's going to scream at you in front of everybody." Not helping matters was that there was no United rep in Ottawa meaning Harte didn't know about Julien's situation until the kid called her from his own cell phone, prompting Harte to call United. She was finally connected to the attendant at the room where Julien was stashed and learned of what happened. All told, Julien spent about eight hours in the room before he was put on a later flight home to Ottawa. A spokesperson for United told the Calgary Herald the airline has apologized for the inconvenience, refunded the childcare fee, and has made "an undisclosed goodwill gesture."