Suit: American Airlines Lost My Kids

Mother says 2 sons were left to sleep in room 'akin to a jail cell' after their flight was scrapped
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 9, 2023 12:00 PM CST
Suit: American Airlines Lost My Kids
People check in at the American Airlines ticket counter at Charlotte Douglas International Airport on Thursday, May 25, 2023, in Charlotte, NC.   (AP Photo/Erik Verduzco)

A mother who paid a $150 fee for American Airlines to escort her two minor sons on a 1,000-mile trip is suing the airline she claims lost the boys. Amber Vencill says American promised that her sons—variously described as 10 and 12 and 12 and 14—would enjoy escorts, early boarding, and a kids-only lounge as they flew from Missouri to New York, with a connection in North Carolina, on July 30, 2022, per USA Today. According to its website, the airline's unaccompanied minor chaperone services also come with promises that staff will notify guardians of delays or cancellations and find the kids "overnight accommodations, meals and supervision" when required. That's not what Vencill says happened when her sons arrived in Charlotte to learn their connecting flight was canceled, according to the lawsuit.

Vencill says the airline called her partner, the boys' father, telling him the boys would be on a flight the next morning and would be given beds and their own bathroom in the meantime, per the New York Post. Vencill, who'd received an email stating the boys would be on an evening flight, says she called a number that was supposed to give them direct access to the boys but couldn't reach anyone. It was "terrifying for Amber and for her partner Ted," Vencill's attorney, Elizabeth Eilender, tells USA Today. After several hours, Vencill reached an airport employee, who traced the kids to "a lost children's room ... akin to a jail cell," the suit reads, per the Post. The boys hadn't been given food or water and had spent the night on a sofa in the "freezing" room without blankets or pillows, claims the suit, which alleges the airline "misplaced" the boys.

After what Eilender describes as a "very scary" experience, the boys boarded their flight to Syracuse without issue. Vencill, meanwhile, sent a complaint to the airline's Board of Directors, "hoping they'd ... figure out what happened so it doesn't happen again," says Eilender. Instead, Vencill says customer relations apologized and offered to refund the $150 fee. She now wants the airline to "take responsibility" for failing to fulfill the paid-for service, including by investigating how the service is managed. The airline's response—"sorry we lost your kids lady but here is your money back"—is "simply shameful and plaintiffs are entitled to punitive damages," the suit claims. The airline says it's reviewing the suit and views the safety and comfort of customers as "our highest priorities." (More American Airlines stories.)

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