A JetBlue mixup sent two five-year-old boys to the wrong cities and to the wrong parents waiting for them on the ground. One outraged mother has already hired an attorney, The New York Daily News is reporting.
Andy Martinez Mercado had been visiting family in the Dominican Republic with his mom, Maribel Martinez. Martinez left for New York a week earlier than Andy, leaving him in the care of relatives. On August 17, Martinez’ family put Andy on a plane at Santo Domingo’s Cibao International Airport. They even posted a video of the young lad leaving them with his escort, as Martinez had paid an additional $100 surcharge in order for a JetBlue employee to escort him onto his flight.
Back at Kennedy, Martinez anxiously waited for Andy’s flight to land. When it did, a JetBlue escort emerged from the crowd with a five-year-old boy bearing Andy’s passport – but it wasn’t Andy.
“No, this is not my child.”
Martinez says it took a panic-stricken three hours for her and JetBlue to figure out why she ended up with a boy she had never seen in her life being presented to her as her son Andy. She was afraid he had been kidnapped.
“I was freaking out. I didn’t know if he was alive. I still haven’t stopped crying.”
Finally, after some phone calls, Martinez figured out what had happened. The two boys had somehow been mixed up in Santo Domingo, with the strange boy having been mistakenly sent to JFK instead of Boston – 214 miles away – and Andy sent to Boston instead of JFK.
Martinez was eventually put on the phone with her son.
“Mami, they put me on another plane.”
Andy was put on the next flight to New York and the other boy was sent back to his family in Boston. A couple of hours later, Andy was back with his own mom, according to ABC News.
In a statement, JetBlue confirmed the incident and admitted that the mixup caused distress for both boys’ families.
“Two unaccompanied children of the same age traveling separately from Santiago, Dominican Republic, one to New York JFK and one to Boston — each boarded a flight to the incorrect destination. Upon learning of the error, our teams in JFK and Boston immediately took steps to assist the children in reaching their correct destinations. While the children were always under the care and supervision of JetBlue crew members, we realize this situation was distressing for their families.”
Martinez, for her part, was refunded the $475 she had paid for Andy’s flight, plus given another $2,100 in credits and vouchers. But she says she was never given an apology or explanation for the mixup. Despite JetBlue’s attempts to make things right, Martinez has hired an attorney, Sanford Rubenstein, and plans to sue.
“Any parent can understand the terrifying fear a mother goes through knowing that her child is missing. This never should have happened and the JetBlue employees should be ashamed of themselves.”
The Independent Traveler advises that, if you’re going to send a child unaccompanied on a flight, make sure they have all of their identifying information with them – including their parent’s name and telephone number, and a photo of the person who is supposed to pick them up.
“Just because a five-year-old is permitted to fly solo, that doesn’t mean that your five-year-old will be able to handle flying alone, especially if your child hasn’t flown before. Parents should use common sense and make a decision based on their own child’s level of maturity.”
Do you think JetBlue should be sued for mixing up two kids and sending them to the wrong airports?
[Image via Shutterstock/Leonard Zhukovsky]