Spirit Airlines is accused of removing a teenage girl from a flight while her mother sat in the back, unaware, leaving the girl stranded at the airport and her mom en route to another city without her daughter, Fox News is reporting. The family says the incident caused them emotional distress, and they are suing for $75,000.
Back in April 2018, Stacy Giordano was flying with her son and daughter from Ft. Lauderdale to Detroit, with a planned stop in Tampa. For reasons that remain unclear, the family was separated during seating, with Stacy and her young son seated in the back of the aircraft, and the unnamed 15-year-old girl seated in the front of the plane.
However, the family claims in a lawsuit, the flight was overbooked, and the young girl was removed from the plane to make room for another passenger. Even as the teen was being escorted off the aircraft, her mother sat in the back, unaware of what was happening.
The family’s attorney, Jerry Thurswell, says (via WFXT) that the girl’s protests fell on deaf ears.
“When the child says, ‘My mother’s in the back of the plane, why are you taking me off?’ And they just take the child off and say, ‘Sit here, you’ll be on the next flight out.’… You don’t just separate a child from their mother.”
— ABC15 Arizona (@abc15) March 22, 2019
Stacy said she realized mid-flight that she had been separated from her daughter. Meanwhile, on the ground in Ft. Lauderdale, the teen tried to call and text her mother, but Stacy’s phone had been on airplane mode, and as a result, she was unreachable.
The teen would spend three hours in the Ft. Lauderdale airport waiting for the next flight, before eventually being put on a plane to Detroit.
During that time, according to the lawsuit, Stacy and the teen both “became sick, suffered a panic attack and suffered great emotional distress, extreme fear, horror, mental shock, mental anguish and psychological trauma.”
The family is seeking $75,000 in damages. In a statement, Spirit Airlines said that it cannot comment on pending litigation, but that “the safety and security of our guests is our top priority.”
For decades, airline travelers have been bedeviled by the business practice of overbooking. However, following an ugly 2017 incident, in which Dr. David Dao was forcibly dragged off of a United Airlines flight to make room for other passengers (as The Guardian reported), the airline industry began taking steps to limit overbooking and offer better compensation to passengers affected by the practice.