This is an interesting post directed at Delta by a distraught father. Let me first say I have fellow feeling for Mr. Donovan and there are few terrors in the world worse than thinking your child has gone missing. Without question, Delta dropped the ball in giving him bad information and apparently repeatedly so by several Delta representatives. It certainly, at a minimum, sounds like the PDX GA’s are in sore need of some training, and Delta should have responded to the complaints by Mr. Donovan.
But this story has me perplexed. You see the Delta Unaccompanied Minor program is amazingly tight to make sure a child is never ever lost. You can read about it HERE. In part it says:
Unaccompanied Minor – Departure gate procedures
Upon arrival at the gate, check-in with the gate agent for verification purposes.
Unaccompanied minor will board at the beginning of the boarding process.
Please note: The child will not be permitted to board the aircraft if the adult escorting them is not present at time of boarding.
Once the plane is off the ground the adult who has escorted the unaccompanied minor will be permitted to depart the gate area – this ensures that, if an irregular operation occurs, the child is escorted at all times.
Unaccompanied Minor – Arrival gate procedures
Upon arrival at the airport, the adult picking up the unaccompanied minor will be required to check-in at the ticket counter to obtain a gate pass.
Gate pass can only be issued by seeing an agent (Special Services line).
Arrive at the gate prior to aircraft arrival.
A Delta representative will bring the child from the aircraft to the gate.
Provide identification for verification purposes to the Delta representative.
Once the ID has been verified the adult will be required to sign a release form.
The child will be released and the adult will be given any documents such as passport, boarding cards, receipts, baggage claim, etc.”
Now with all this in place, how can you ever lose a child? Ever? I am sure most of us who fly know one of the first things the GA meeting the plane always always always asks is: “How many UMs and wheelchairs do you have”.
In the LinkedIN post Mr. Donovan says his sister went to the gate to meet his daughter and she was not there. Then tells us the Delta rep says:
“DELTA GUY: Uh, yes…hello sir…we show your daughter was on this flight, we checked with the onboard crew and they confirmed they had two unaccompanied minors on the plane from Minneapolis, however, they say, both minors left the plane unescorted.”
If you look at the comments on the post they are all resoundingly appalled at what Delta did and did not do. In the end, his daughter was on another flight that landed during the frantic search for where she was in the airport.
Mr. Donovan is very critical of Delta for the “paperwork” mistake of losing his daughter since she was never really lost at all. I have a bunch of my own concerns over this, but not for what Delta did so much as for what Mr. Donovan did not do and maybe we can learn from this. See if you agree with me or tell me if you think I am in left field on this.
First, Mr. Donovan is in technology. Not just in it, he is COO of a tech company. Has he never heard about GoGo? He says he is loyal to Delta. They announce all the time all over the place about GoGo. He already paid the $200 round trip unaccompanied minor fee, why not pay the $16 more for two days of unlimited mobile phone use so he could know where his young one was throughout the trip. GoGo would have ended his stress before it began.
Next, why was his child not flying NONSTOP from NYC to PDX? If it were my little one I would have picked one of the two nonstop flights and only them. Why risk a connection? Mr. Donovan says there was weather that day in the NYC area. OK, why not reschedule for the next day (most times free under weather waivers).
Those are the major questions that matter. The ones that doesn’t really matter for safety but matter to me are the other “disturbing” facts. He spent 65,000 membership rewards points for the trip. WHAT? Why? Yes he could pay for the ticket with membership rewards points and earn Skymiles for his daughter’s ticket this way (assuming she has a Skymiles account) but look at this:
I don’t know how long ago he booked these tickets for the trip over the 4th of July but if I look at September award seats today for someone with NO status coach tickets are wide open and the non stop has plenty of availability at the 40,000 point level round trip (you can send membership rewards MR points to Delta 1:1 and they move over almost instantly). Why did he spend over 50% more points than he had to for the ticket?
So what do you think. Is Delta completely at fault and this is a horrible failure on Delta’s part or could Mr. Donovan have done things differently and this would have never been an issue. You tell me! – René
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