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2 children flying alone on Frontier Airlines ended up in a hotel room in another state after their plane was diverted — and their parents aren't happy about it

Brian Pascus

 

  • Two children flying alone on Frontier Airlines last month were taken in a vehicle with an airline employee to a hotel room after severe weather diverted their Orlando-bound flight to Atlanta, their parents told news outlets.
  • The parents told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Frontier customer service could not give them information and that they heard from their children only because another unaccompanied minor let them borrow a cellphone to call that night.
  • Frontier said its employees followed "standard procedure" for the handling of children flying alone. 

Two children flying alone on Frontier Airlines last month were taken in a vehicle with an airline employee to a hotel room after severe weather diverted their flight to Atlanta, their parents told the Orlando Sentinel and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The children — Carter Gray, 9, and Etta Gray, 7 — traveled unaccompanied on Frontier Airlines Flight 1756 on July 22 from Des Moines, Iowa, where they were visiting their grandparents, to their hometown of Orlando, Florida. The flight, which was scheduled to arrive at 10:46 p.m., circled Orlando International Airport for 45 minutes before diverting to Atlanta because of storms, the Sentinel reported.

The children's mother, Jennifer Ignash, said she was left waiting at the Orlando airport, completely in the dark about what had happened to them.

"This was the first year I said OK, they're old enough to fly on their own, they know their phone number, they know their address," Ignash told The Journal-Constitution. But when the flight got diverted, she added, "it was like, OK, panic."

Ignash said she was not able to learn anything about her children's whereabouts from Frontier's customer-service line that evening and that she did not receive a call from a Frontier employee until the next day.

The parents said they heard from their children only when, shortly after midnight on July 23, an older unaccompanied minor on the flight let Carter borrow his cellphone to call his father.

"Without that child, we would have had zero idea where our kids were," Ignash told The Journal-Constitution.

Ignash said a Frontier employee took her children in a personal vehicle to an Atlanta hotel, where Carter, Etta, and four other unaccompanied children from the flight stayed in adjoining rooms.

"We never gave approval for that to happen," Chad Gray, Etta and Carter's father, told The Journal-Constitution.

After providing the children a breakfast voucher for McDonald's, Frontier continued the flight to Orlando the following morning, and the children landed safely there at 1 p.m., Gray told the Sentinel.

Alan Armstrong, an Atlanta aviation attorney the parents retained who has been handling their public statements, did not confirm in a call with Business Insider whether they were seeking legal action against Frontier, but he did say he hoped to bring attention to what he described as a neglected issue.

"The real thrust of this is to make Frontier and the entire airline industry aware of the gross deficiencies in their procedures for dealing with unaccompanied minors and children," Armstrong told Business Insider.

Frontier said that the parents' going to news outlets was surprising and that its employees followed standard protocol.

"It has been more than two weeks since the flight diversion, but the family never contacted us," a Frontier representative, Jonathan Freed, told Business Insider. "The first we learned of their concerns was as a result of their lawyer calling media."

Freed said in a statement to Business Insider that in keeping with Frontier's "standard procedure" for unaccompanied minors, the children were accompanied at all times, placed in a hotel room overnight, and provided food.

"We understand how an unexpected delay caused by weather can be stressful for a parent, and our goal is to help passengers get to their destinations as quickly and safely as possible," Freed said.

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