The holiday season typically welcomes the tradition of visiting with family and friends, which often requires travel by car, train, bus, or airplane. The latter option yields particularly high volumes of passengers around Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s. Although airlines appear to execute efficient effort to avoid delays and accommodate customers, one airline has developed a reputation for a reason some may not expect. Two lawsuits entered against American Airlines involve the treatment of underaged children. While one was settled, the other was recently filed.
In the first case, American Airlines sold a mother of twin 18-month-old daughters a ticket for herself and her one child. The mother held the second child on her lap; but was approached by a flight attendant, who questioned the safety of the child in the seat and advised that she was in violation of the rules. Although the mother pulled up the rules to show the attendant that it is permissible to have a child under two in the seat if they are sitting upright with a seatbelt, the dispute only subsided when the passenger behind the mother offered to hold the second child. The mother then sued, claiming that her child was placed at risk and would have been safer seated next to her with the safety belt fastened. The lawsuit was settled for the return of 4,500 flight miles.
In the second lawsuit, a mother of two children, ages 10 and 12, purchased an unaccompanied minors service through American Airlines for $150 each way. Their layover flight was delayed, and the children were forced to sleep in accommodations that were compared to a jail cell, where they were not provided with food or supervision. The mother was unable to contact her children via the number provided by the airline, which led her to believe they were misplaced. The airline has refunded the cost of the service but is investigating further into the details of why the two children were not provided adequate care.