'Tis the season for holiday air travel nightmares, from overbooked flights that prevent you from seeing Grandma to cupcakes in jars as security threats. So it shouldn't be surprising to hear that when a 9-year-old flying Southwest Airlines from Tennessee to LaGuardia Airport was rerouted, her family had no idea.
Chloe Boyce was heading to LaGuardia to spend Christmas with her grandmother in Connecticut. Her mother, Elena Kerr, says that Chloe flies by herself on Southwest often, either to visit her grandmother or her father in Rhode Island: "Whenever she flies alone, we go up to a ticket agent, and the ticket agent goes over the rules with her. We always go over how many stops there will be." Her Tuesday flight to New York was supposed to have two stops: A layover in Baltimore and then a final stop at LGA. But fog forced the plane to go to Columbus, Ohio before Baltimore.
Chloe told NBC Connecticut, “The lady at checkout, she said, 'Do not get off this plane, only when you see LaGuardia airport,'" but after the second stop in Baltimore, "The flight attendant says the people who are going to LaGuardia have to get off in Baltimore and go to customer service to get another ticket. And I was like, 'What do I do?' The flight attendant said, 'You'll be coming with me,' and I said, 'But I'm not supposed to get off the airplane.'" OMG, can you imagine what Alec Baldwin would have done?!?
The girl's arrival in New York came hours later—upside, a pilot bought her dinner at Chili's—and on another flight, confusing her relatives who freaked out when a flight they thought was Chloe's had no unaccompanied minors on board. Her grandmother, Maryann DiShuk, said, "It was really scary. It was a scary situation not knowing where she is just for a few minutes."
Southwest was apologetic, "Our unaccompanied minor policy aims to minimize these kinds of situations ... by only ticketing them on itineraries that don't require an aircraft change," and refunded Boyce's ticket plus offered a $250 voucher. Kerr said, "We just don’t understand why we weren’t called, especially because the Southwest policy states that someone must be available to answer phone calls during the flight time in the event of a flight irregularity."
As for Chloe, she will be getting a junior Girl Scout badge and her mother will be driving 17 hours to pick her up.