United: We Did Not Lose Anybody
After about an hour, Phoebe and her mother did talk because Perry Klebahn reached a United Premier agent who was willing and able to help. This agent found an employee at O'Hare who put Phoebe on the phone. That is when Annie Klebahn heard her daughter's story, which involved not being met at the gate in Chicago and not being escorted to her connecting flight. "She was sad and scared and no one helped," her mom said.
Also, United lost Phoebe's bag, which did not arrive in Traverse City for three days. Another problem, in the Klebahn's eyes, is that it was not a United employee who was supposed to escort Phoebe from her arriving flight to her departing flight, but rather a contract employee.
How did the world learn all of these details of Phoebe's flight? Because of the Internet, of course. The Klebahns have a friend who is a "blogger," so he blogged the whole story, letter to the airline and all. Then a TV station reported on the blog. This occurred in a world that is filled with people who read stories on the Internet and then re-post them, never checking to determine whether they are true or can be explained in some understandable way, but rather seizing the opportunity to express outrage, apparently in an effort to show what a horrible place the world is and often, in a country consumed by anti-airline hysteria, how horrible airline service is.
We called United to get its side. "We conducted a review of this matter involving the Klebahn's daughter and found that she was fully supervised during her entire time at Chicago O'Hare Airport," said United spokesman Charles Hobart.
It is true, Hobart said, that the escort did not arrive as scheduled when Phoebe got off the aircraft. Probably as a result, Phoebe missed her connection. However, Hobart said, Phoebe was watched until she was escorted to United's special room for unescorted minors, who are supervised while there, and then she was escorted to the next flight to Traverse City. Phoebe's parents have been provided with a refund of the frequent flier miles they used to pay for the trip, a refund of the $99 unescorted minors fee and additional compensation which Hobart declined to identify.
"We regret the confusion and stress that was placed on Phoebe and her family and we will strive to provide better travel experiences in the future," Hobart said.
We do have a few questions to pose.