- Alexis Westergren was told by the airline she could not pick up her child from Chicago airport.
- American had incorrect names and cell numbers listed as the child’s contacts in its system.
- The airline eventually let her take daughter home after she gave the father’s correct cell number.
American Airlines told the mother of a 10-year-old passenger that she couldn’t pick up her daughter after its system failed to correctly record who was collecting her from the airport.
Alexis Westergren’s daughter was flying unaccompanied to Chicago on July 9 from Portland, where she had been visiting her father.
Westergren went to the AA ticketing desk to get a gate pass but was told that she was not authorized to take her daughter home. “They said that her dad was supposed to pick her up,” she told Insider.
An information sheet attached to a lanyard worn by the child showed that Westergren was listed as the person meeting her at the destination. Flight details and other information have been verified by Insider.
The child’s father wrote down Westergren’s contact details before their daughter left Portland and gave it to the ticketing agent, who should then have put that information into the system, Westergren said.
She said AA staff told her the child’s father, who had dropped her off at Portland airport, was also listed as the contact picking her up in Chicago.
“He looked at me and said ‘ma’am, I can’t release her to you.’ I almost lost my mind,” she said. “Not once did they say ‘let’s wait for the plane to land and check the information on her lanyard’.”
The AA employee tried calling both the child’s father and Westergren’s husband, who dropped off the child on the outbound journey to Portland to see her dad. However, both phone numbers were not working, Westergren said.
“He realized that someone had made a catastrophic error in inputting any of this information and trusted me enough to give him the correct phone number of my child’s father,” she said.
Her father gave the airline permission to let Westergren collect her daughter and staff confirmed the name with her ID, she said. She was eventually given a gate pass by the ticketing agent and was able to meet her daughter at the gate but was by then “livid, sweaty and exhausted.”
AA offered Westergren a $500 credit that covered the cost of the ticket and unaccompanied passenger fee.
“American failed epically at ensuring that that information went in its system,” she said. “They need to have procedures in place for when something like this happens. I would just like a real response about what is going to be done to fix this.”
American Airlines did not respond to Insider’s request for comment.