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Unaccompanied 9 Year Old Spends Night in Airport Lounge

Unaccompanied 9 Year Old Spends Night in Airport Lounge

Some of us can only imagine the tomfoolery we would get into much inspired by our young friend Kevin McCallister, if we were left alone as youngsters. Staying home alone? Ready for the scary movies. Staying in a hotel room? This is the suite life. Staying overnight at an airport? Bring on the snacks.

But at a time when explosive packages are found in airports, dogs are mauling children and fatal plane crashes are under investigation, not knowing the whereabouts of your unaccompanied minor on a flight is one of the scariest incidents a parent can experience.

This is the case of 9-year-old John Meredith who was on a Virgin Australia flight from Brisbane to Sydney. John’s nominated guardians, his grandparents, were awaiting his arrival in Sydney Airport (SYD) but they didn’t see their grandson. Katie Meredith, John’s mom, checked a flight tracker app and found that the flight was diverted to Melbourne.

“My parents were sitting in an empty airport,” Meredith told News.com.au. “I got in touch with them and told them, and they went to the desk and got it confirmed.”

The flight was diverted to Melbourne due to storm reports. Thousands of passengers, along with John, stayed overnight at the airport. The airline was unable to book accommodations in short notice but failed to inform John’s mother and his nominated guardians of the change.

“In times of weather disruption, we do our best to accommodate guests onto other flights or provide accommodation when their flights have been diverted,” Virgin Australia said in a statement. “In this instance, our ground crew supervised the child and made him as comfortable as possible in a room in our Melbourne Airport Lounge ahead of his flight the following morning. We apologize for any breakdown in communication between our team and the child’s guardian during the course of the evening.”

Though Virgin issued an apology, John’s mother believes there is a need for better procedures for unaccompanied minors.

“I’m a little upset (Virgin is) saying there was adequate communication because not 100 percent knowing where your child is not good enough.”

[Image Source: Melbourne Airport]

View Comments (5)

5 Comments

  1. GrayAnderson

    March 20, 2019 at 4:44 pm

    Quick fact check: A Melbourne-Sydney flight would be Virgin Australia, not Virgin Atlantic. You’ve got the wrong Virgin!

  2. roberto99

    March 20, 2019 at 10:42 pm

    Virgin Atlantic does NOT fly to Australia. The airline was probably Virgin Australia.

    Author, you need to check your facts before publishing!

  3. markis10

    March 21, 2019 at 2:43 am

    Virgin Atlantic doesn’t fly in Australia, Virgin Australia does, a Comp,Evelyn different airline.

  4. GoodFastOrCheap

    March 22, 2019 at 9:10 am

    Someone should have called the parents as soon as it became apparent he would be rescheduled (or not) the next day. The whole UA minor programs are such a headache. Parents delegate control of their children to an airline, what could go wrong? Nevertheless, that’s what they charge extra for. I’m unsure how to feel about the sleeping arrangements. It’s not like they could check the kid into a hotel so I’m guessing they did the best they could .

  5. glob99

    March 22, 2019 at 10:28 am

    If a child is not old enough to have a phone, the child is not old enough to travel alone.

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