United Airlines has put two parents through the wringer after their 10-year-old child went missing in a Chicago airport on her way to camp. The girl was supposed to be under the supervision of an unaccompanied minor service, but no one helped her board her next flight.
According to a story published on gawker.com and an account given on Work Matters, Annie and Perry Klebahn sent off their daughter, Phoebe, to camp in Grand Rapids. The trip involved a flight from San Francisco to Chicago.
The Klebahn's only found out about her missing status when the camp called to inform them of her absence.
More stress ensued after the parents called United Airlines wanting to know where she was, and the airline was repeatedly uncooperative. No one was able to find out information and no one seemed concerned.
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In one telephone conversation with a customer service agent in India, the parents told the agent about the situation. They asked how Phoebe could have missed her flight since "everything was 100% on time," to which the agent replied that "it does not matter, she is still in Chicago and I am sure she is fine."
Phoebe's parents got the run-around by several agents until one United employee finally agreed to help, only after some heavy persuading. After the agent told them she was about to end her shift, they asked her what she would do if her child went missing for 45 minutes. The agent said she "understood," and would do her best to help.
She found Phoebe 15 minutes later and also found someone who could talk to the parents to let them know she was safe.
Understandably angered by the ordeal, the Klebahn's sent out a complaint letter to the CEO of United Airlines. In the letter, the entire situation is explained in detail. It reveals Phoebe's side of the story, one full of just as much confusion and maltreatment.
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Phoebe apparently tried to ask for help several times and was repeatedly denied. Upon arrival in Chicago, Phoebe told the attendants that she was supposed to catch a flight for camp. They told her to wait. Then she asked to use a phone three times so she could tell her parents she was okay. They told her to wait. Once she missed the flight, she asked if someone could call her camp and tell them she would be late. They replied, "yes, we will take care of it."
The repeated attempts by Phoebe's parents to complain about their mistreatment were ignored by United until the parents reached out to the media. Once they told the story to a local news reporter, United started to become "effusively apologetic."
A United spokesperson said the company apologized to the family and also reimbursed the miles they used for the trip.
Bob Sutton, a friend of the family, said "United doesn't care about Phoebe, they don't care about Annie and Perry, but they do care about getting an ugly story on TV."
United is currently reviewing the matter.