Last updated: 06:00 PM ET, Thu August 20 2015

Airline Reportedly Left Child Alone in New Jersey Airport

Impacting Travel | Donald Wood | August 20, 2015

Airline Reportedly Left Child Alone in New Jersey Airport

PHOTO: An 11-year-old child was left on his own Sunday at Newark Liberty International Airport, pictured. (Courtesy of Thinkstock)

Sending a child by themselves on a flight can be terrifying for any parent, but the horrifying thought of them getting lost during the trip came to fruition for one family Sunday.

In a report from Grace E. Cutler of, 11-year-old Owen Kirvan boarded a United Airlines Flight 4261 at Washington Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C. and was flown to his destination at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey.

The boy’s mother—Kathy Kirvan—paid the $300 round-trip unaccompanied minor fee for Owen to go visit his grandparents, who would meet him at the airport. Part of United Airlines' unaccompanied minor policy includes a guarantee that all minors will be escorted to the arrivals area by a company employee.

Instead, Owen was not greeted by any employees and started to panic when there was no one there to show him where to go in order to meet his grandparents. The boy’s grandfather was given the wrong terminal information as well, and immediately went to the customer service desk.

Instead of showing compassion, employees at the customer service desk allegedly told the grandfather that he would have to go find Owen on his own. About 30 minutes later, the boy and his grandfather were finally reunited thanks to text messages between Owen, his mother and the grandfather.

The boy’s mother was concerned that Owen had been put in danger. By leaving the 11-year-old alone, anyone posing as an airport employee could have told the boy to follow them and he would have listened to them, as he was instructed.

United Airlines released a statement about the incident to

“We are reaching out directly to the family to apologize for not fully providing the service they expected. After asking Owen to wait so that she could escort him off the aircraft upon arrival, the flight attendant didn’t notice that he had exited with the rest of the customers onboard. Owen was met by his family about 30 minutes later at the arriving gate.”

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