Mother forced to pay United extra $150 to lose her son

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/07/02/mother-forced-to-pay-united-ex.html

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Wow! That was like the perfect storm of errors. “Fly United! We’ll get you somewhere!”

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a night of panic ensued as United placed the teenager on the wrong flight to the wrong country.

When I was 14, I dreamed of a fracas like this.

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a night of panic ensued as United placed the teenager on the wrong flight to the wrong country.

A Eurowings plane, Flight EW1113 to Düsseldorf, was sitting at the gate at that point.

Teenaged boy (if it were me):

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Instead of Stockholm, he’d get to see… Düsseldorf.

No offence to Düsseldorf, but later this month I’ll be visiting Stockholm too (well, I hope so), whereas its stereotype means Düsseldorf wouldn’t exactly make my bucket list.

FWIW, I frequently flew unaccompanied with SAS as a young teenager (including through Copenhagen) and never had problems.

I couldn’t imagine using a US airline.

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I can, and it sucks, really.

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I have to say…United certainly screwed the pooch here; HOWEVER, I know both my 18 and 16 year olds by the time they were 14 knew and understood how to navigate an airport on their own without assistance and my 11 yr old is learning this now. There are some basics involved here, and I did see any info as to if the parent was on the phone/face timing the kid when they landed to help guide them.

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Knowing United they’ll probably charge the kid another fee to get him to the right destination.

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A 14 year old should be capable of finding the correct flight. This isn’t that hard of a problem. The gate change is definitely a monkeywrench though.

That string of errors could have gotten anybody, especially if it was their first time flying. What seems odd to me is that they didn’t scan his boarding pass at the gate? That should have red flagged him even if the name was similar. A savvy traveler definitely would have double-checked the destination before going through the gate too.

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Sorry if I’m misreading you, but that’s the point: the parents and child were more than happy for the child to manage alone, but United insisted on escorting him; they put him on the wrong flight.

It’s mentioned in the mother’s Twitter thread; she’d confirmed he was at the right gate in Copenhagen and at Baggage in Stockholm.

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This is as good as one passenger’s Ontario/Ontario mixup when my dad worked at LAX.

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14 year old me would have very psyched to hear this, and then very disappointed to learn what it actually meant…

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Sorry son, that’s for Triple Crown, Platinum, Black, and Global Worldstar members only.[1]

[1] I don’t actually know the names of all of the frequent flyer reward programs they call out before the flight, but I think at least half of these are real.

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I can’t read a twitter thread from my work computer. So as I said “I didn’t see info as to if they were in communication” or not with one another.

And I started it right away with “united screwed the pooch”.

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That’s the kid’s mother, by the way.

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So no one scanned the boarding pass?

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No guarantee that he wouldn’t have been bamboozled by the door change and similar name mixup.

I do agree that the $150 United escort should have been more airport savvy though. That’s their primary job description!

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At 14, though, I think I would have been too timid to contradict an adult who was saying that was where I needed to go. I was very much not an assertive child.

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I say this as a person who has traveled frequently as part of my work.

For the love of anything, DO NOT fly United.

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