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It’s Apparent That Some People Shouldn’t Be Parents

, , , , | Right | CREDIT: MissShane | May 28, 2021

I work at an airport, and I often deal with kids traveling without parents. This is a paid service called “Unaccompanied Minors,” available to everyone under eighteen but mandatory for kids under the age of twelve who travel alone. The rule is that the parent or guardian or whoever escorts the kid has to stay at the airport until the plane is in the air. This is in case the flight is canceled, because the paid service does not cover anyone staying with the kid until the next flight. The most extreme case would be that there’d be no flight available that day anymore, in which case the kid would have to go home and come back the next day. Obviously, most parents are fine with going to the gate with their kids and staying until the very last minute.

A dad comes to the business counter with his child, which is already a big no-no, as checking in unsupervised kids takes longer than average and the business counter is supposed to be a fast lane for business class and high-tier passengers. The dad shows his own gold card, so I bite back my annoyance and ask the person next to me to check in my queue until I am done. I give the dad all the forms he has to fill, which annoys him. The kid is obviously under ten and seems very sweet. She looks relaxed and I assume she has done this plenty of times.

Dad: *Giving me back the forms* “So, where do I leave her?”

Me: *Confused* “You have to stay at the airport until the plane is in the air.”

Dad: “What? No! I paid for her to be accompanied!”

Me: “Well, yeah, from the gate to the plane and from the plane to arrivals.”

Dad: “I have a meeting in [Town three hours away]. I can’t stay with her!”

Me: “Sir, what if the flight was canceled? We’d have to call you back.”

Dad: “She’d stay here with you, wouldn’t she?”

Me: “That’s not a possibility. Sir, you agree to the terms when you pay.”

Dad: “I didn’t pay for this; her mother did, and she told me I could just leave the kid with you!”

Kid: *Starting to cry* “Daddy, please, come with me!”

Dad: “Don’t start! You like flying, don’t you?”

Kid: “Mom always comes with me.”

Dad: “I don’t care. I don’t have the time! I want to speak to your manager!”

While we wait for my supervisor, we hear an announcement through the loudspeakers about a car in the no-parking zone.

Dad:S***!

He runs away, leaving his daughter at my counter. She starts crying in earnest, and I panic, thinking that the dad is taking this opportunity to bail. My supervisor comes and we close my counter completely (the queue is almost empty) and take the kid aside to talk over our options, hoping that the dad will come back.

Five minutes and no dad later, we try to call him. No answer. Then, we try the mom, whose contact information is also on the papers.

Mom: “I’ll call [Dad]. Is there any way you can take [Kid] to the gate if he doesn’t show up, if I promise to be there in about thirty minutes?”

Supervisor: “There is still plenty of time before the flight leaves, and you can skip the security queue, so we can make a little exception and wait for you at the check-in with [Kid], but we won’t let her go to the gate without a parent.”

Mom: “Okay, thank you. Either [Dad] or I will be there soon.”

A few minutes later, the dad does come back, arguing over the phone with who we assume is the mom. He yanks the daughter by her arm and takes her through security. We feel bad but think that is that.

No.

I go back to my counter to finish the check-in and then get a call from the gate.

Gate Employee: “[Kid]’s father has just left her here with us. We’re very busy and we can’t really look after her. Could you try to catch him and tell him to come back?

I don’t manage to spot him.

Supervisor: “Go sit with the kid while I call her mom again.”

My shift is about to end so I don’t have to hurry anywhere except home, and I agree to work a little overtime, sitting with the teary-eyed child. While my supervisor calls the mom, the shift manager calls the airline.

Shift Manager: “Can we allow a child onto the flight if there is no parent present when the flight leaves?”

We are a ground handling company and do not directly work for any airline.

Airline Employee: “No. That is not allowed.”

Fortunately, the mom then arrives. The kid and I go back to check-in, and the mom signs new forms and escorts the kid through security again. The kid makes the flight fine and it leaves on time. The mom is so embarrassed and upset about the whole incident.

Mom: “Thank you so much for all your help. This is the first and last time [Dad] will ever escort [Kid].”

I had to stay a while longer to write an incident report, and I went home absolutely exhausted.

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