United Airlines Apologizes After Placing 14-Year-Old Boy on Flight to the Wrong Country
"When somebody says unaccompanied minor, wrong airplane, wrong country, everybody should’ve stepped up and done something," said the boys mother, Brenda Berg.
United Airlines is in hot water after employees put a 14-year-old boy on the wrong international flight, which left his parents in a panic.
Anton Berg, 14, from North Carolina, was flying to Sweden to visit his grandparents, but his trip was disrupted when United Airlines employees at Newark Airport in New Jersey assisted him in boarding a one-way flight to Dusseldorf, Germany, according to WRAL.
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Due to Berg being an unaccompanied minor, airline personnel were instructed to escort him to his flight, a services that cost his parents $150. Once onboard a Scandinavian Airlines flight set for Germany, the teen quickly realized something was wrong as the plane was prepared for take off, and alerted his parents, who were back home in Raleigh, N.C.
“He texted me, because he still was on his phone, ‘There are a lot of people speaking German on this flight. That’s kind of odd, isn’t it?’ I said, ‘That is kind of odd,'” his father Christer Berg told WRAL.
Upon request from his parents, Anton alerted a flight attendant, and the plane headed back to the terminal. All the while, Anton’s mother Brenda Berg was in a panic, and took to Twitter to alert the airline of their mistake.
“@United @SAS my son is in the wrong plane!!! EWR you put him on a plane to Germany!!!!” Brenda wrote on Twitter.
“We had no way to reach the airline,” she told WRAL. “We were sitting there with a child on the runway about to fly to Germany – the wrong country – and we had no way to reach them. We realized they had no idea where our son was, so I was [in] absolute panic.”
Although Anton missed his original flight, United Airlines booked him another, and he safely arrived in Sweden to his grandparents, as Brenda confirmed on Twitter, saying that her husband talked to the boy at baggage claim.
During the crisis, Brenda continued to give updates about the situation, claiming that United did not even call her even after Anton got off the plane.
She also shared a photo of her on-hold call with United, which had lasted over an hour, while writing in another tweet, “ironically, @United if you hadn’t accompanied him, this would never have happened. He wouldn’t have counted on you to know what you were doing. #NeverUnitedAir”
“When somebody says unaccompanied minor, wrong airplane, wrong country, everybody should’ve stepped up and done something,” Brenda told WRAL, also calling the mistake by United a “cosmic failure.”
United addressed the mishap in a statement obtained by PEOPLE, assuring that Anton’s safety was the “top priority” for the airline.
“The safety and well-being of all of our customers is our top priority, and we have been in contact with the young man’s family to confirm his safety and to apologize for this issue,” the statement read. “Once Eurowings recognized that he had boarded the wrong aircraft in Newark, the plane returned to the gate – before taking off. Our staff then assisted the young customer to ensure that he boarded the correct rebooked flight later that evening. We have confirmed that this young customer safely reached his destination.”
United also noted to PEOPLE that they refunded the unaccompanied minor fee of $150.
However, Brenda pushed back on United’s handling of the situation, as she noted in her final tweet after explaining her son was safe in Sweden.
“Our son landed 11 hrs ago and it has been 24 hrs since our last communication from @United,” she wrote. “Apparently they are saying that they have been in regular contact and they cared for our son. Not true.
We are still waiting for an apology and action plan so this doesn’t happen again,” she added.