Frontier Airlines has come under fire after parents say the airline left them “in the dark” after their unaccompanied children were taken to a hotel room by an airline employee after their flight was diverted last month.
According to NBC News, Chad Gray’s and Jennifer Ignash’s nine-year-old son and seven-year-old daughter were traveling by themselves from Des Moines, Iowa to Orlando, Florida July 22 after visiting their grandparents when the flight was diverted to Atlanta due to weather.
Ignash was awaiting the kids at Orlando International Airport but said she wasn’t able to get in contact with anyone at the ultra-low-cost carrier.
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The parents said they knew the plane had landed because of apps but had no idea where their kids were. “No supervisor tried to call, no phone call, no emails, nothing like that took place so we were really in the dark,” said Gray, telling NBC News that his son Carter borrowed a cell phone to send his parents a text message saying he and his sister were being taken to a hotel.
“A lot of emotions were going through my head. I mean, most of all, I think I just I felt helpless. I felt guilty for even putting them on the flight,” Ignash told NBC News. “I thought ‘Are they scared? Are they warm? Do they have food?’ I do not blame Frontier for the flight being diverted. I fully understand that. But I do expect communication.”
The children told their parents that they were only provided Rice Krispies Treats and water and were placed in separate hotel rooms along with other unaccompanied minors. Gray said his son wound up sleeping with a boy who was five years older than him.
Frontier has since denied that there was no communication and that it only became aware of the family’s concerns after being contacted by media outlets.
“In keeping with Frontier’s policy, the children were attended to at all times by a Frontier supervisor, placed in a hotel room overnight and provided with food. Our records show that the children were in contact with their mother before being transported to the hotel and with their father the following morning before leaving on the continued flight,” Frontier spokesman, Jonathan Freed said in a statement.
“We understand how an unexpected delay caused by weather can be stressful for a parent and our goal is to help passengers get to their destinations as quickly and safely as possible.”
The children were eventually put on a later flight to Orlando.
Airlines determine their own policies when it comes to flying unaccompanied minors as there are no federal regulations. In wake of his own scare, Gray said: “Parents need to definitely do a little bit more research and probably worry about this a little bit more.”
“It was an almost instant terror, you know, you’re not with your kids, you’re really out of control,” he added, telling the Orlando Sentinel that his family “won’t be flying Frontier again.”
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