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Child safety on flight - unaccompanied minors

(69 Posts)
CommanderDaisy Thu 26-Apr-18 01:23:23

We live a fair distance away from both sets of grandparents.
As a result, my two DS have been travelling as unaccompanied minors on a globally recognised airline for a number of years.

This time DS 11 , decided he wanted go see his grandparents on his own. He's done one flight like this previously with no problems. He is a polite, well mannered kid who doesn't like making a fuss and doesn't make things up - it is what it is with him. So I believe him when he told me what happened.

The same airline limits the numbers of unaccompanied minors and charges a pretty solid extra on top of the ticket price for this service.

Anyway, on the trip down DS was sitting by the window. During the flight , some random bloke wandered down to the back (where the children always sit) and plonked himself next to my son, saying there was always more room at the back. He then proceed to try to engage DS in a variety of conversations making DS really uncomfortable, leaning across him to adjust the blind on the window several times - generally sounding thoroughly creepy.
At no point did a staff member intervene, check on DS or ask this guy to shuffle off.
When I called the airline to ask what the hell they were doing, allowing this to happen - I first got told that passengers during flights are allowed to sit wherever they like, then by a more senior person that the onus was on my son to complain - this while still sitting next to the man he wanted to complain about.

AIBU to completely have the shits with this and complain my ass off, and to view it as a child safety issue ?

Birdsgottafly Thu 26-Apr-18 01:33:22

Yes keep complaining. It is a child safety issue and of course they can insist that a passenger goes back to their seat. The should be safeguarding the child and the complaint shouldn't have to come from the child.

groovergirl Thu 26-Apr-18 01:56:23

Wow, Daisy, this is shocking. You absolutely must complain and keep up the complaint vociferously.

My DD, aged 10, has often flown unaccompanied to see her grandparents. I don't mind saying she flew Qantas, and that they took excellent care of her. I paid a premium for this, so good care is to be expected.

Had she encountered the sort of sleazoid your DS had to suffer, I would have made a scene of epic proportions.

Random passengers should not be allowed to plonk themselves next to kids. For the airline to expect your innocent 11yo to speak up at the time, when he must have been feeling very intimidated by this overbearing adult, is unacceptable.

Keep up the fight.

Talk to your local media if the airline continues to fob you off.

Seriously, this is a matter of international interest.

CommanderDaisy Thu 26-Apr-18 02:03:47

I have complained already, and am waiting to hear back still, after contacting them early morning Tuesday - flight was Monday.
They were so " ...meh" about it, and the responses I have received have really pissed me off.

It is absolutely a big safeguarding issue and I can't believe they aren't all over it immediately. I have to fly my son home with same airline tomorrow ffs , so I'm torn whether to get him home first and then go nuclear, or just go nuclear. ( There is no way I can drive to get him)

MrsJackHackett Thu 26-Apr-18 02:19:43

I wouldn't wait, they need to ensure safety immediately, it really doesn't sound like your son got any kind attention, considering you paid extra for the supervision.

I would expect safeguarding training for any / all flight attendants, especially those who are watching over children. So the moment the guy sat down, a member of the crew should have highlighted it's a designated zone, please return to your original seat.

Surely it's common sense from the airlines perspective. Generally I would have a rule for your son that he doesn't speak to any non uniformed persons. You don't know what the guy was saying / asking, it was a real risk with the adult presumably knowing that your son was unaccompanied.

groovergirl Thu 26-Apr-18 02:30:31

I agree -- go nuclear NOW.

Your son's safety is paramount. How dare the airline go "meh" to your concerns!

What if something similar happens to your DS on the way home? What if it happens to other children?

Want2bSupermum Thu 26-Apr-18 02:34:20

Not normal and not ok. I'd be very upset and wouldn't be flying with that airline again. Wouldn't surprise me if it was BA.

CommanderDaisy Thu 26-Apr-18 02:39:17

This is the corporate speak bollocks I have recieved via Facebook. Any one got any good (polite-ish) responses to this?

Hi Daisy, I'm sorry to hear how you're feeling. Be assured our Guest Experience Manager will contact you directly after having liaised with the relevant teams internally as mentioned. Further to this please know I have passed on your correspondence. Thank you.

HoppingPavlova Thu 26-Apr-18 02:40:24

That's not okay. Active supervision in this regard is part of the reason you are paying extra.

nursy1 Thu 26-Apr-18 02:43:25

It’s a long while since my dd flew unaccompanied. It was AA, at that time a flight attendant met them airside and walked them to the gate handing them over to flight attendant responsible for them. Then in reverse at other end. Does that still happen? If so was an individual cabin member responsible?

nursy1 Thu 26-Apr-18 02:48:09

The guest experience manager. Is that the one who makes sure predatory men have nice flights?

CommanderDaisy Thu 26-Apr-18 02:53:07

Pretty much nursy1. I might throw that back at the anonymous individual who keeps giving me standardised placating posts.

ellkell77 Thu 26-Apr-18 03:03:24

I’m planning on sending my six year old daughter on a long transcontinental flight on her own this summer. I want to be sure they are actively keeping an eye on her - ridiculous to suggest a child should be responsible for raising an objection! Please do make a fuss - I and others will be watching very closely.

Want2bSupermum Thu 26-Apr-18 03:07:34

If it's AA call their US center. They take this sort of thing much more seriously here in the US. I've flown with AA a lot as an UM. The crew would check on us a lot and other passengers were not allowed to talk to us. Aa used to have a great policy where it was one person from the crew who collected us and dropped us off at the other end.

AngryAttackKittens Thu 26-Apr-18 03:11:58

I flew unaccompanied minor from the age of 9, and then had that restriction lifted and flew on my own at about the age your son is now. Even without the unaccompanied minor status the flight crew should be keeping an eye on passengers and intervening if a passenger is harassing a child.

If you're still paying for unaccompanied minor status then there's absolutely no excuse for this and you should kick up as much fuss as is needed. Not just because they may offer compensation, but because having to do so may encourage them to get staff to do their jobs properly in future.

(When I was flying UM staff used to check in on me all the time. That's part of what you're paying for, along with making sure the kid doesn't wander off and get lost at the airport, miss their flight, etc.)

CommanderDaisy Thu 26-Apr-18 03:27:26

It's Virgin Australia.

They conveniently have no contact numbers other than the standard call centre options.

I'm not getting any names on any reponses to messages, and don't have the name of the Guest Services person. It's like driving repeatedly into a brick wall.

I'm also getting really cranky, so will probably come across as irrational if I call the call centre again.

FFS.

inTIRFace Thu 26-Apr-18 03:34:46

This is awful although I think their response is fine and measured.

Of course they want to find out what happened.

PyongyangKipperbang Thu 26-Apr-18 03:35:20

Can you confirm.....

Did he fly as an official unaccompanied minor where you pay extra for the service or not?

If he did then of course you should raise hell but if you didnt I can imagine that the airline will say that unless he raised a complaint then the airline are no more responsible for him than any other passenger, and they do have a point. I am not saying for one second that what happened was ok, but the price of flying an unaccompanied minor is to cover the staff who look after those children and so to expect the same level of service without paying for it is VU.

octonaught Thu 26-Apr-18 03:36:07

I’m sorry about Your sons experience, poor little thing.
Here is Virgin Atlantic twitter account.
mobile.twitter.com/VirginAtlantic?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor

I would get tweeting, Richard Branson does not like bad publicity.
Email the Daily Mail Australia. I’ll find a link. They love trashing people

octonaught Thu 26-Apr-18 03:37:00

Op has already said she paid a premium for the service

Graphista Thu 26-Apr-18 03:39:41

Is there no other contact info available? No email addresses nothing?

Personally I'd be livid and worried. Quite natural that you are very unhappy about this.

A its a safeguarding issue

B you paid for a service and it wasn't provided

C your complaint isn't being taken seriously

I'd go nuclear - email CEO

ceoemail.com/s.php?id=ceo-76631&c=Virgin%20Australia-CEO

CommanderDaisy Thu 26-Apr-18 03:40:42

Yup - legitimate unaccompanied minor with an extra charge on top of ticket. Virgin limit the number of children they provide the service for so they can adequately supervise them, and seat them in specific areas.

We've done this alot, and never had this problem before.

octonaught Thu 26-Apr-18 03:42:33

Daily Mail Australia

The contact me is in the small print right at the bottom.

Can you ask his grandparents to take a copy of your email when they check in your son. If this is “under investigation” then the return flight crew are more likely to keep an eye on him. One hopes

PyongyangKipperbang Thu 26-Apr-18 03:42:52

She said "This time DS 11 , decided he wanted go see his grandparents on his own" so I just wanted to be sure it was on his own as an unaccompanied minor without his sibling, and not on his own as a standard passenger.

CartoonsAndVodka Thu 26-Apr-18 03:45:13

The poor social media person has escalated your Facebook complaint - that's what the corporate speak means. It's been sent up the chain. They don't work with guest relations, they work in a marketing team. Posting snarky responses won't help here, unfortunately. If anything, if turns off people who might have helped you (I work in a team that manages a busy social media account - trust me, senior managers are quick to dismiss complaints where they can...)

You should call the contact centre back, and ask for a reference number or a person who is managing your enquiry. Ask when you can expect to hear back. Then call again at that time if you haven't heard.

FWIW, I fly Virgin Au lots and I'm often seated beside unaccompanied minors. Hosties do ignore the kids, even ones who are crying. There simply isn't enough people on board to do more. I would never let my kids fly unaccompanied because I've see it first hand.

If you can afford the return flight to get him, do so. Good luck with it all. flowers

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