ISSAQUAH, Wash. – An Issaquah mom is speaking out after she says an airline problem led to her daughter missing her flight and being left in a room for more than six hours.
“She was in St. Louis, and was leaving St. Louis to go to Boston to ride horses and do fun things on Cape Cod,” Crystal Michel explained.
It was supposed to be the perfect end to summer for Katelyn Fisher, but her trip to horse camp got off to a bumpy start after her family says the 12-year-old was left for hours in a room at New York's La Guardia Airport.
Fisher was flying as an unaccompanied minor. Her family paid American Airlines $150 to remain under the care of airline personnel, but they didn’t realize at some locations the airlines contract out those jobs. Fisher was passed off to workers from an outside company when her flight landed at La Guardia.
“She was taken out of security and put in a room. It didn't have a TV and it kind of looks like a storage room, and she was kept there for six hours” her mom explained. “She knew she was on this next flight and she knew what time it left, and she kept asking to go to the gate, and there was some sort of language barrier and she never made it to the gate."
After three hours in the room, Michel says Katelyn called her mom asking for help.
Michel said she got on the phone with American Airlines and was told her daughter couldn’t be located.
“I said we’re going to figure this out, it's going to be fine. But then I heard in her voice that she wasn't OK,” Michel explained. “We called American, and they couldn't tell us where she was and then she called and said I think they're going to take me to a gate and she ended up being on the last flight into Boston. She arrived after midnight and she was supposed to be there at 6 p.m..”
American Airlines said they use an outside vendor at La Guardia and disputes the claims that Katelyn spent six hours in the office. They say their unaccompanied minor area is outside security but has a television and children are always supervised. They were still researching claims that she missed her flight and whether the airline responded to the family’s concerns.
Katelyn's family has complained to the FAA and wants government oversight in how unaccompanied minors are cared for by airlines.
“I felt completely out of control; I'm in Seattle, she's on the East Coast. How do I get to her, what do I do,” Michel said.