What to Know
- Fourteen-year-old Anton was flying to Sweden to visit his grandparents; United required he fly as an "unaccompanied minor," parents say
- Flight from Raleigh to Newark went off without incident, but United then put Anton on a flight to Germany instead, according to reports
- The teen's mother incessantly tweeted about the harrowing ordeal in an attempt to find answers
It was a harrowing ordeal for a North Carolina couple.
Their 14-year-old, who was traveling alone to Stockholm, Sweden, was put on the wrong connecting flight headed to Germany on Sunday at Newark Liberty International Airport, the teen’s mother says.
Fourteen-year-old Anton was flying to Sweden to visit his grandparents, and United required that he fly as an "unaccompanied minor," meaning airline agent would escort him to his flights, NBC-affiliated WRAL reports. His parents had to pay $150 one-way for the service.
The flight from Raleigh, North Carolina, to Newark, New Jersey, went off without incident, but United then put Anton on a flight to Germany instead of his flight to Sweden, WRAL reports.
Through dozens of tweets, the teen’s mother, Brenda Berg, detailed the incident.
After 8 hrs and an almost flight to Germany, Anton is on a plane to Denmark. Still no real effort made by @United. I have a list of seven major #UnaccompaniedMinor fails, none of which have been addressed. #NeverUnitedAir #UnitedAirlines https://t.co/0OlHBDkz7m— Brenda Berg (@BrendaBerg) July 1, 2019
She described the long wait times on the phone with United Airlines in an attempt to try to find answers and rectify what went wrong.
According to Berg’s tweets, a United Airlines employee brought him to the wrong flight, and he was put on a Eurowings flight to Germany instead of his Scandinavian Airlines flight to Sweden.
"@United @SAS my son is in the wrong plane!!! EWR you put him on a plane to Germany!!!!" she tweeted.
In another tweet, Berg said: “@eurowings should never have let him on but at they did turn the plane around when it was taxiing. He was heckled in the @eurowings plane but it was @United fault! @SAS helped him rebook but he now has to wait until 11:30pm and connect through Copenhagen. Never #UnitedAirlines.”
The parents said the teen became aware he was on the wrong flight when the plane was taxiing – and managed to get off the plane before it took off.
Aside from detailing the incident, Berg also tweeted directly at United and Scandinavian Airlines requesting immediate help.
“It was absolute desperation,” she told WRAL.
She also voiced her complaints about the lack of service even though she paid for the unaccompanied minor amenity, which provides an airline personnel escort to take minors to their flights.
“After 8 hrs and an almost flight to Germany, Anton is on a plane to Denmark. Still no real effort made by @United. I have a list of seven major #UnaccompaniedMinor fails, none of which have been addressed. #NeverUnitedAir #UnitedAirlines,” one of Berg’s tweets says.
While another tweet said: “Friends - thanks for your concern. He is now on his own in @EWR and buying himself food. Thanks @United for STILL not caring for our child even though you forced us to pay your fee. #NeverUnitedAir.”
In a statement, United Airlines said: “The safety and well-being of all of our customers is our top priority, and we have been in frequent contact with the young man’s family to confirm his safety and to apologize for this issue. 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.”
NBC 4 New York also reached out to Scandinavian Airlines and Eurowings.
In a statement, Scandinavian Airlines spokesperson Freja Annamatz said: “We are not able to comment individual passengers, or other airlines. At SAS security, and taking care of our passengers, is always a first priority.”
Eurowings did not respond to request for comment.
Although Berg did not immediately respond to NBC 4 New York’s request for comment, in her interview with WRAL, she recounted the distressing experience.
“I just thought all night. What if he’d been 12? What if he’d been 10? What if he didn’t have his cell phone on him? This can’t happen to anybody else,” she said.
Anton’s parents say they are speaking out to make sure that airlines improve their unaccompanied minor policies.
United Airlines’ unaccompanied minor policy is for children “who are 5-14 years old and traveling without a parent, legal guardian or someone who is at least 18 years old.”