The parents of a 12-year-old girl sent her on a plane alone thinking the airline would make sure she was safe, but she ended up lost in one of the nation’s busiest airports.
Kimber was flying from Chattanooga, Tennessee, where her mom, Monica Gilliam, lives, to her dad in Miami on an American Airlines flight.
Under the airline’s unaccompanied minor program, children under 18 traveling without a parent are given a tag to wear around their neck. They’re supposed to be accompanied off the plane by a flight attendant until handed off to a parent or guardian.
When Kimber’s flight landed in Miami, the flight attendant allegedly just waved goodbye, leaving the girl all alone in one of the country’s busiest airports.
Gilliam says about an hour later, she got a call from American Airlines saying the girl could not be found anywhere.
“I said, ‘How do you lose an unaccompanied minor? How did you lose my child?’” Gilliam said.
“Miami is a large human trafficking hub, and the thought of what could have happened is unbearable,” the mom continued.
To make matters worse, the flight landed early. Kimber’s dad was just pulling up to the airport when he got a scary text from his daughter.
“She immediately started texting me, because she had to go into the terminal and she was confused as to where she was going or what she was doing. I instructed her, with her comfortability of being able to navigate, to FaceTime with me throughout the entire airport and follow signs for baggage claim. And I met her at baggage claim,” Kimber’s dad said.
Gilliam says she was told a flight attendant has been suspended.
“You failed her, and you didn’t do your job. And it could’ve been the last time I saw my daughter,” Gilliam said.
American Airlines said in a statement that they take these matters very seriously and are investigating. They say they reached out to the family to find out more about what happened.