Kids Flying Alone Were Put in Hotel Room With Stranger After Flight Delay, Parents Claim Airline Didn't Contact Them About It (Video)
Frontier Airlines is under fire for the way they handled two unaccompanied minors after their flight was diverted.
According to Today, nine-year-old Carter Gray and seven-year-old Etta Gray were traveling without their parents on a Frontier Airlines flight from Des Moines to Orlando on July 22 when severe weather caused the plane to be diverted to Atlanta.
The children’s father, Chad Gray, told Today that following the flight diversion, the airline made the decision to put their children in a hotel room with four other “unaccompanied minors” and an airline employee.
Gray told a local Atlanta CBS station that he called Frontier gate agents multiple times and they weren’t picking up, and they transported the children to a Holiday Inn near the Hartsfield-Jackson airport around 2 a.m. Gray also claims that the children were transported to the hotel using an airline employee’s personal vehicle, where there was no booster seat for Etta.
“I know they were a little frightened, scared and nervous,” Gray said on Today. “My son ended up sleeping with a boy five years older he did not know.”
He claims that no one from the airline ever contacted him or the children’s mother, and said that his son had to borrow another child’s cell phone to keep his parents updated.
“For Frontier to leave that messaging in the hands of a seven and nine-year-old to me is really unacceptable,” he said.
Alan Armstrong, a pilot who is representing the family as their attorney told CBS46 that he questions the airline’s policies in place surrounding the situation and their decision to fly out of Des Moines knowing flights were ground-stopped in Orlando.
“No one knew what to do,” Armstrong said. “The policies and procedures, taking children off airport premises around four in the morning…”
He added, the event displayed, “Negligence, poor communication, no communication,” and “poor judgment by the pilot.”
Gray wants to use this opportunity as a learning experience for other parents whose children are flying unaccompanied, and he told Today he intends to make sure this doesn’t happen to other families.
“The biggest thing is for Frontier to have a clear policy and procedure moving forward if this scenario were to happen again,” Gray said.
A spokesperson for Frontier tells PEOPLE in a statement that providing a hotel room in this situation is “standard procedure,” and although it has been more than two weeks since the flight diversion, the first time the airline “learned of the family’s concerns was as a result of their lawyer calling media.”
“The safety of our passengers is top priority at Frontier Airlines and the well-being of unaccompanied minors is no exception,” the airline representative said. “In keeping with Frontier’s policy, the children were attended to at all times by a Frontier supervisor, placed in a hotel room overnight, and provided with food.”
“Our records show that the children were in contact with their mother before being transported to the hotel and with their father the following morning before leaving on the continued flight,” they continued. “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.”