MIAMI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, FLA. (WSVN) – A Georgia mother is upset and speaking out a week after, she said, American Airlines abandoned her 12-year-old daughter after landing at Miami International Airport.
The news was unimaginable for Monica Gilliam after she learned her daughter Kimber was left all alone at MIA, July 2.
“They’ve abandoned her on the plane,” she said. “I’m getting chills right now. It’s Miami being a huge hub for human trafficking, like, the thought of that could have been the last time I saw her, it’s too much.”
Gilliam said she dropped off Kimber at Chattanooga Airport and spoke with an American Airlines representative who assured her the girl would make it to Miami safely.
But the concerned mother said that’s not how the situation played out.
“From the time she landed until the time that the manager of American Airlines called and said, ‘She’s missing. We’ve lost your child, we’ve shut down a terminal,’” she said.
Gilliam said Kimber was lost at MIA for 50 minutes until she was eventually reunited with her father.
As an unaccompanied minor, American Airlines officials say their staff is required to walk the child to the gate, to baggage claim and identify the person picking them up.
“I don’t want any other kids to be scared. I don’t want any other kids to be left in a situation that’s potentially going to change their lives in a really bad way,” said Gilliam, “and I’m really disappointed about the whole situation.”
According to the Transportation Security Administration, 2.1 million people were traveling at airports nationwide on July 2.
Travel expert Omar Kaywan said Kimber was traveling at a time when staffing was low and anxiety was running high.
“If you can avoid it right now, please do. If you must do it, everybody’s situation is different, but there are some steps that you can take to make sure your child gets there safely,” he said. “Work with the airline, ask them the tough questions and be prepared for different alternatives.”
Gilliam said her daughter is not ready to get back on a plane. She also does not intend to consider flying American on future trips.
“I have no plans of flying with American Airlines again, because what they did is inexcusable,” she said, “and I have no faith in them at all now, because they didn’t do their job, and they lost my child.”
American Airlines apologized for the mix-up and offered three free flights and limo services to the airport. Gilliam declined the offer.
A spokesperson for the airline said it is investigating to determine what happened.
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