Calgary mom alleges United Airlines staff mistreated teen daughter
Company denies the allegations, says the teen’s account doesn't match its records
A Calgary mom is outraged after she says her 14-year old daughter was mistreated by United Airlines during a trip south of the border earlier this month
"If they're going to force me to place my child into their care they have a duty and responsibility to care for that child," says Tai Graham.
Graham says her daughter Natalie often flies alone to Florida to see family. But this last time, United Airlines charged Graham a $200 unaccompanied minor fee, for one way, with the understanding staff would watch the teen and she would be fed.
"I knew something was wrong when Natalie told me they didn't allow her to buy food or feed her on the plane."
United's unaccompanied minor policy applies to children between the ages of five and 15.
It ensures only non-stop flights are booked and that the young passengers receive a free meal if food is being served on the flight. It came into effect in January, prior to that it only applied to children between five and 11 years of age.
Graham says when she booked her daughter's ticket on July 26, she registered her as an adult, not knowing the policy had changed.
When she got to the airport, staff explained the change and asked for the unaccompanied minor fee.
'She was pretty freaked out'
In all, Natalie was in United's care for about 16 hours.
Graham says when Natalie arrived in Florida she was essentially left alone in an office, and told not to move until her family arrived to pick her up.
"She was pretty freaked out by this point," said Graham. "It [the care] wasn't there at all."
A spokesperson for United Airlines, Maddie King, disputes Natalie's account of the incident.
- Passenger must pay airline $44K after in-flight yoga arrest
- McGill engineering prof clashes with United Airlines in court
- United Airlines attendant angers breastfeeding mother
"We kept the child in a safe location until her grandmother was able to retrieve her," said King. "I'm not sure if there was anyone in the room with her."
"I was not on board but I do know that from our investigation she was offered a meal, multiple times ... she refused to take it," King said.
King later added, by email, that Natalie "was always in a safe place and was constantly supervised."
The company has since reimbursed the family the $200 fee and they've also offered them a $500 flight voucher, which was declined.
"Clearly this mom is upset with the way her child was treated even though that doesn't necessarily match our records. We are going to do whatever we can to make it right for them so they can come back to United and have a better experience."
Graham says she'll be sending her daughter home on another airline and she would like the company to admit it made a mistake. She's also seeking an apology.
- MORE CALGARY NEWS | MMIW inquiry met with mixed emotions by Indigenous Calgarians
- MORE CALGARY NEWS | Year-round schooling in Calgary means back-to-school comes in early August