Unaccompanied Minor Kicked Off United Express Flight Home
As the guardian of an unaccompanied minor, the last thing you want to hear is that your relative was kicked off their flight. But that's what happened to one family when Logan O'Connor, a 13-year-old from Virginia, was booted from his United Express flight from Albany (ALB) to Washington Dulles (IAD).
UA 4968, which was operated by CommutAir, was scheduled to depart at 7:20pm on Tuesday night, however, due to a weight-balance issue, United Airlines decided it needed to remove some people from the flight. During the boarding process, O'Connor was texting with his older brother, Martin O'Connor, who has been his guardian since their father passed away last year.
"They said they need to take 4 people off the plane," Logan texted his brother. "They said 500$ voucher and a trip tomorrow," and "What should I do?" he continued.
Martin told his younger brother to stay on the Embraer ERJ 145, to which Logan responded "What if they make me get off..." Martin assured his brother that they wouldn't be allowed to remove him because he was in a protected seat. However, United Airlines ultimately removed the unaccompanied minor from the flight.
When Martin texted his brother why he was removed and if he'd volunteered, the boy said he didn't know why he was kicked off. Martin later said that United didn't know of Logan's unaccompanied minor status at the time they bumped him from the flight.
The family was understandably upset — the unaccompanied 13-year-old was kicked off a flight for which he had a ticket, essentially leaving him stranded at ALB. As a gesture of goodwill, United said it's refunding the flight and the unaccompanied minor fee, as well as the expenses associated with driving from Virginia to Albany to pick the boy up. Here's the carrier's full statement:
We apologize to the O’Connors for letting them down. We have refunded the flight and as a gesture of goodwill, we offered additional compensation to reimburse them for this experience. We are working with our vendor who operated this flight to ensure this doesn't happen again.
United's unaccompanied minor policy requires that the minor can only travel on nonstop flights operated by United or United Express, and there's an additional $150 fee (each way) for the service. Martin O'Connor said that United should look more closely at the way it handles its unaccompanied minor program so nothing like this happens to another underage solo traveler in the future.
H/T: Live and Let's Fly