Angry parents say American Airlines left their children with disabilities stranded at an airport for several hours without proper meals or supervision after a flight delay forced them to spend the night in a room for unaccompanied minors.
The parents of the nine children said they spent hundreds in special fees to make sure their children were supervised – but they accuse the airline of being neglectful and unprepared, and giving their kids snacks instead of full meals.
"What we went through was a nightmare, and we shouldn't have had to go through it," said 14-year-old Kelsey Phillips.
The children had spent the week at Virginia's Camp New Friends, which caters to kids with the genetic disorder neurofibromatosis. After their layover flight was delayed in North Carolina with mechanical problems, the kids said, they sat on the tarmac for five hours before being forced to spend the night at the airport.
"I couldn't sleep, and when I asked if they could turn the light off in the unaccompanied minor room, they said we couldn't turn it off," said Sophie Monteith. "And they never gave us our meds."
The parents say the airline did not keep them updated. In a statement, American Airlines said it's "reaching out to the families involved" and "sincerely apologizes." The airline said the children "were kept safe and comfortable in the care of American Airlines personnel at all times" in a room with pillows and blankets. But the children say they had little adult supervision and few bathroom breaks, and weren't given proper meals.
One mother said she got a disturbing message from her daughter. "I have a text from her that says, 'Mommy, I'm so hungry. I haven't had lunch, dinner or breakfast,'" said parent Christina Monteith.
American Airlines also said that it will review what happened to the kids to understand how it can "do better next time."