United Airlines Loses Unaccompanied Minor, Keeps Frantic Parents On Hold

United Airlines is in the bad PR spotlight today after allegedly losing track on an unaccompanied minor and stranding the child at a hub airport while her frantic parents waited on hold to learn the whereabouts and travel fate of their 10-year-old girl.

It all began in June when Phoebe Klebahn left San Francisco for Traverse City, Michigan to attend summer camp. Klebahn had a stopover in Chicago where she was meant to change planes. But, through a series of errors on the part of United, the pre-teen was stranded in her layover airport, unbeknownst to her parents until a call came from camp saying that she had not arrived as scheduled.

According to Annie and Perry Klebahn, a rep wrongly told them that Phoebe had indeed arrived in Michigan when, in actuality, she had been stuck in the Chicago airport all along. A letter of complaint to United, frustrating even to read, sent by the Klebahns has made it to the internet, and they explain:

“I proceeded to call United and was put on hold for 20 minutes (imagine if you are a parent waiting 20 minutes not knowing where your 10 year old is). When someone (from India) finally took the call they first told me that she had indeed arrived in Traverse City and that I was mistaken. Then (only when I started to panic on the phone) she put me on hold again for 10 more minutes only to come back and tell me Phoebe was still in Chicago and had missed her connection.”

The letter continues:

“When I asked how she could have missed it given everything was 100% on time she said, “it does not matter” she is still in Chicago and ‘I am sure she is fine.’ When I asked why no one called the camp or us she could not tell me. When I asked her to please confirm where Phoebe was in Chicago and who she was with she could not tell me. When I asked to speak with her to be sure she was fine she said that was not possible. When I asked frantically to talk to her supervisor she put me on hold for 40 minutes.”

In addition to losing Phoebe, United Airlines then proceeded to lose her luggage. Three times. The airline said by way of response:

“We reached out directly to the Klebahns to apologize and we are reviewing this matter. What the Klebahns describe is not the service we aim to deliver to our customers. We are redepositing the miles used to purchase the ticket back into Mr. Klebahn’s account in addition to refunding the unaccompanied minor charge. We certainly appreciate their business and would like the opportunity to provide them a better travel experience in the future.”

Is the Klebahn’s tale of United Airlines woes the type of experience you’ve had dealing with airline customer service?