A 9-year-old boy who was forgotten by United Airlines at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport tells the Chicago Tribune he wants the carrier to “never have a delay again and give me first-class seats on every single plane I go on for the rest of my life.”
The 4th grader, Julien Reid, was flying alone from San Francisco to Ottawa on United, via O’Hare, when he was escorted to a lounge for children and those with special needs, and forgotten, the newspaper reports.
For more than eight hours he watched two videos over and over, a wrestling match and a horror movie, while he waited for his flight.
Reid had been headed from his father’s home to meet his mother in Canada. According to the Tribune, he arrived in Chicago around 11:30 a.m., and was scheduled to board his second flight at 1:45 p.m., but the connecting flight was delayed.
The boy called his mom on a cell phone his parents had provided to tell her of the delay. The flight eventually departed, but when Genevieve Harte arrived at the airport in Ottawa to pick up her son she found he was still in Chicago.
“He didn’t know he was being forgotten; everybody kept telling him his flight was delayed. …Hours went by. He was completely unaware,” Harte tells the Tribune.
She called her son and asked him to pass the phone to an attendant, who eventually got Reid on a flight, but not without some complaining about how busy she was, Harte tells the newspaper. She says at one point her son was in tears. The boy finally arrived home around 11 p.m.
“I thought I wasn’t going to make it home. I thought I was going to have to sleep there,” Reid told the Tribune of his ordeal, from his home in Ottawa. “I was happy to be on the plane and get here.”
A United spokeswoman, Megan McCarthy, says the carrier apologized for the incident, was investigating how it happened and had refunded a $100 child care fee. She says United also offered the family a “good will gesture.”
Harte, however, says the carrier didn’t offer anything.