United Airlines Loses 10 Year-Old While Transferring Flights

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SAN FRANCISCO, CA. (CNN) - It's one thing to lose a bag, but United Airlines is accused of losing a 10-year-old.  You might be surprised what happens when you pay to have your kids escorted to their connecting flights.

Reporter Julliette Goodrich explains why.
 
Ten-year-old phoebe was all alone at one of the world's busiest airports. Her parents paid United’s extra 99-dollar fee to have their daughter escorted to her connecting flight. The escort never showed up.

"They're trying to get the cheapest labor for so many of their services, and that's where the public's being misled."

Airline travel industry consultant Alexander Anolik says what united did was outsource the escort service, a little-known industry practice of hiring outside companies to escort kids from gate to gate.

"When you drop a child off, you think it's with a career carrier employee. That's more reassuring than knowing that your kid is going to be taken by the cheapest labor they can find to get that person to another plane."

Phoebe was heading to camp in Michigan. She flew first from s-f-o to Chicago’s O’Hare, where she was stranded, never getting on her connected flight to Michigan. Her parents found out she was missing when they received a frantic phone call from the camp that phoebe wasn't on her flight. Phoebe's parents sent a letter of complaint to united, detailing the airline's neglect of their daughter, how she was alone for more two hours at the airport, and the couple's nightmare experience calling customer service, being connected to an agent in India, and being put on hold for more than 40-minutes.

"The consequences can be a minimum of a 27-thousand-500 dollar-violation."

According to the family, the girl made a flight four hours later, but her bags did not.

The parents say they filed a complaint, but have yet to get an apology from United or a refund for the 99-dollar transfer service.