Two parents in Orlando are upset after they say their children were stranded in Atlanta without their knowledge while the children were flying as unaccompanied minors on a Frontier Airlines flight from Iowa.
They say no one contacted them after the plane carrying their children was diverted to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport due to weather and that Denver-based Frontier should have called them to ask if it was okay to drive the children to a hotel before they decided to make that move.
Etta, age 7, and Carter, age 9, were flying July 22 from a visit to see their grandparents in Des Moines, Iowa, back home to Orlando, scheduled to arrive at 10:46 p.m.
But storms in Orlando caused a ground stop, and the flight diverted to Atlanta late at night.
The children stayed at a hotel with an airline worker and shared a room with four other children. It was the children’s first flight without their parents.
The incident highlights what can go wrong when children fly unaccompanied -- even on a nonstop route -- if a flight is diverted to an unfamiliar city.
While the Frontier flight diverted to Atlanta, sometimes flights get diverted to an airport in a small town where the airline may not even have staff.
“This was the first year I said okay, they’re old enough to fly on their own, they know their phone number, they know their address,” said Etta and Carter’s mother Jennifer Ignash. But when the flight got diverted, “it was like, okay, panic.”
Frontier charges a $110 unaccompanied minor fee per child and does not allow unaccompanied minors on connecting flights.
The airline said in keeping with its 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. 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.”
Ignash, who was waiting at the Orlando airport for her children that night, said multiple flights were diverted from Orlando, and “when that happens, it’s just a madhouse.” She got word that the children’s flight was diverted, and tried calling Frontier’s customer service line but says they couldn’t get her information about her children.
Ignash says she didn’t get a call from a Frontier employee until the next morning.
But an older unaccompanied minor on the flight let the children use his cell phone to call and text their parents.
“Without that child, we would have had zero idea where our kids were,” Ignash said.
Ignash says an employee using a personal vehicle took the children to a hotel, where six kids from the flight stayed in adjoining hotel rooms. The parents say they do not know who the employee was who drove the children or stayed with them in the hotel room.
“We never gave approval for that to happen,” Etta and Carter’s father, Chad Gray, said.
Alan Armstrong, an Atlanta aviation attorney Gray contacted, said he thinks there should be procedures and personnel at the airport to handle the problem.
“They just make it up as they go along,” Armstrong said.
Ignash said if parents decide to let their children fly as an unaccompanied minor, they should “understand what the airline’s policy and procedure is and get a direct contact.”
Gray said the worst part was not knowing what was happening.
“It was a bunch of circumstances that came into play all at the same time. I just don’t think Frontier is prepared to handle all those at once,” Gray said. “You like to minimize the risk that your kids have and you want to protect them. And not having any control over the process whatsoever, I think, is really, really frustrating.”
WSBTV.com contributed to this report.
A Southwest Airlines employee was arrested and charged with voyeurism Sunday morning at Sea-Tac Airport in Seattle.
A witness told KIRO-TV that he saw Port of Seattle police officers surround the suspect and put him in handcuffs near gate B-9 about 11:30 a.m.
The suspect, Nicholas Williams, 25, who works for Southwest, was arrested on suspicion of voyeurism.
He was booked in to the King County Jail and appeared before a judge Monday afternoon.
Prosecutors say Williams put a camera in a bathroom at the gates that children sometimes use on their own.
Investigators say Williams admitted he had done it four or five times before.
Southwest Airlines released the following statement:
"We will work with the appropriate authorities as they investigate an accusation that involves one of our Seattle employees. We do not have additional details to provide."
Besides working for Southwest Airlines, Williams also volunteers at the Chehalis Centralia Railroad and Museum. He posted pictures on his Facebook page last Friday.
The judge set his bail at $90,000. If he gets out of jail, he is not allowed to have contact with children.
A Boy Scout’s toy grenade was the “suspicious device” behind the evacuation of the security checkpoint at Houston’s Hobby Airport early Thursday, KPRC reports.
Here are the latest updates:
Update 7:01 a.m. EDT June 7: A Boy Scout’s toy grenade prompted the evacuation of Hobby Airport’s TSA checkpoint, Houston police said Thursday morning.
According to KPRC, the 17-year-old was detained after security screeners found the toy in his bag.
“No word on any penalties,” KPRC tweeted.
The airport has reopened the checkpoint and allowed travelers back into the area.
“Now might be a good time for a gentle reminder that there are items you CANNOT bring through security checkpoints,” the airport tweeted, along with a list of TSA-approved items.
Update 6:43 a.m. EDT June 7: The suspicious device has been removed, the airport tweeted just after 6:30 a.m. EDT Thursday.
“Device has been removed, and TSA is re-opening the checkpoint and working to resume passenger screening,” Hobby Airport tweeted. “Expect some delays through security, and as always check with your carrier to see if your flight has been impacted.”
Passenger Michael Oder tweeted a photo from the scene.
“Looks like things are clearing,” he wrote.
Update 6:26 a.m. EDT June 7: The airport confirmed the news in a tweet just after 6 a.m. EDT Thursday.
“The TSA security line has been closed due to a suspicious device being found during screening,” the airport tweeted. “Please check with your carrier to see if your flight is being impacted by this delay. We will post updates as they become available.”
One traveler tweeted that passengers had to evacuate the airport but were let back in:
Passengers were evacuated from a Delta Air Lines plane Tuesday night after smoke was reported in the cabin.
According to KDVR, 146 passengers were on board the MD-90, which was traveling from Detroit to Denver, the Atlanta-based airline said. The evacuations occurred after the MD-90 landed at Denver International Airport just after 8 p.m. local time, the airline said.
"After arrival in Denver and during taxi to the gate, Delta Flight 1854 from Detroit to Denver stopped on a taxiway where customers deplaned via slides and over-wing exits due to an observance of smoke in the cabin," Delta said in a statement, KDVR reported. "Airport response vehicles met the aircraft out of an abundance of caution and customers were transported to the terminal via buses. The safety of Delta's customers and crew is our top priority and we apologize for the concern this situation has caused."
At least one person was injured and taken to the hospital, officials told KUSA.
A truck struck a Southwest Airlines plane Monday morning at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, multiple news outlets are reporting.
According to WJLA, none of the 172 passengers on Southwest Flight 6263 from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, were hurt when the pickup hit the plane, which was heading to its gate about 1:30 a.m. EDT. Those on board "were being assisted off the plane," WJLA reported.
Officials did not say whether the truck driver was hurt, WTOP reported.
The airline apologized to passengers who took to social media to complain when the incident put a snag in their travel plans.
"We're so sorry for the trouble tonight in Baltimore," the airline responded to one user who tweeted that it had been a "crazy couple of weeks" for Southwest. "We appreciate your patience, and our Team will do everything they can to get you all on your way as soon as possible."
The incident comes less than one month after a Southwest passenger died when a plane with a damaged engine and broken window made an emergency landing in Philadelphia.
Want to work on the railroad? If so, you could get your bank account on the right track with a massive bonus.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Texas-based BNSF (Burlington Northern Santa Fe) Railway and Nebraska-based Union Pacific Corp. are trying to attract new employees by offering as much as $25,000 in signing bonuses.
The news comes "as the freight railroads struggle to fill jobs in a historically tight labor market," the Journal reported.
"Freight volumes are rising on strong economic growth and industrial expansion, and a shortage of available truck capacity is pushing more shipments onto rails," the report continued.
A woman with multiple sclerosis says Delta Air Lines employees tied her to her wheelchair because she can’t sit up on her own and they didn’t have the chair she needed.
Maria Saliagas travels to Europe with her husband every year. When she was diagnosed with MS five years ago, she didn’t want to break her tradition of traveling with her husband.
She said Delta normally accommodates her by making sure staff members have a proper wheelchair that has straps to help her sit up straight.
When she flew out of Atlanta on April 1 and arrived in Amsterdam, Delta didn’t have a chair with straps, so employees tied her to a regular wheelchair with someone else’s blanket, said her son, Nathan Saliagas.
“They took a dirty blanket and tied her forcefully with it, and she has bruise marks on part of her arm because it was so tight and she started crying. That’s when that picture was taken,” Saliagas said.
A Delta representative sent WSB-TV a statement about the incident, saying:
“We regret the perception our service has left on these customers. We have reached out to them, not only to resolve their concerns, but also ensure that their return flight exceeds expectations.”
The family returns to Atlanta on April 30.
When the family complained to Delta, they said the airline offered them 20,000 free SkyMiles, but they said that's not enough.
They want to see a policy change regarding how Delta handles passengers with disabilities.
Southwest Airlines said it canceled about 40 flights Sunday as it inspects engine fan blades in the wake of an engine failure last week that led to one passenger’s death.
That’s about 1 percent of Dallas-based Southwest’s daily schedule of nearly 4,000 flights. The airline encouraged passengers to check their flight status. “We anticipate minimal delays or cancellations each day due to the inspections,” Southwest said in a written statement.
Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines has the same type of engines on the Boeing 737s in its fleet and is also adding ultrasonic inspections of the engines, but said it doesn’t expect any operational impact to customers.
Both airlines last week, in advance of the Federal Aviation Administration’s official release of an emergency airworthiness directive, said they would accelerate the inspections.
The FAA on Friday issued the anticipated directive requiring airlines to inspect fan blades on certain engines within 20 days. The directive draws from information gathered in the investigation of Southwest’s engine failure last Tuesday. The FAA said the inspection requirement is estimated to affect 352 engines in the United States and 681 engines worldwide.
The CFM56-7B engine that blew on the Southwest flight showed evidence of “metal fatigue,” according to the National Transportation Safety Board. That engine model is on all of Southwest’s 737-700s and 737-800s, which make up the vast majority of Southwest’s fleet.
Two 911 calls show that a Cincinnati teenager pleaded for help as he was crushed to death by the seat in his van Tuesday afternoon in a parking lot near his school.
Kyle Jacob Plush, 16, was found dead by his father about six hours after he made the first 911 call, according to WCPO in Cincinnati. A preliminary autopsy report indicated that he died of asphyxia due to compression of his chest.
His death was ruled accidental.
“At this time, there is no indication of foul play or evidence of a drug overdose,” Hamilton County Coroner Dr. Lakshmi Sammarco said in a written statement. “Our deepest sympathies are with the family and friends of Kyle.”
Sammarco’s statement did not offer details of how Plush was crushed, but Honda in November recalled 800,000 Odyssey minivans because the vehicle’s second row seats can tip forward if not properly latched. The recall was for vans from 2011 to 2017.
Plush’s van was a Honda Odyssey, though the year was not immediately known.
Hamilton County Prosecutor Joseph Deters confirmed to WCPO in Cincinnati that Plush died of positional asphyxiation when he became trapped in a seat, but Deters said it was the van’s third-row bench seat.
His office is investigating the incident to determine exactly how Plush’s death occurred.
“We are actively trying to identify experts to assist us in this investigation,” Deters told the news station.
Officials with the city of Cincinnati and the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office are also investigating why dispatchers, police officers and deputies were unable to find Plush in time to save his life.
Audio of Plush’s 911 calls, which have not been released by the media due to their graphic nature, indicated that he became increasingly desperate as his condition deteriorated. In the first call, placed shortly after 3 p.m., the teen was gasping for air as he screamed repeatedly for help, saying he was stuck inside his van “at Seven Hills.”
Plush was a sophomore at Seven Hills School, a private academy for grades pre-K through 12. He died in a parking lot near the school’s Hillsdale campus.
“I can’t hear you,” Plush told the dispatcher, according to WCPO. “I need help. I’m gonna die here.”
The dispatcher either could not hear him clearly or did not understand what he was trying to say. She asked, over and over, “Where are you? What is the address?”
“I probably don’t have much time left, so tell my mom that I love her if I die,” the teen said.
A timeline established by the news station indicates that Plush got disconnected about six or seven minutes after he placed his first call. Officers who were dispatched when that call ended tried calling him back, but the call went to voicemail.
When they did not get a response, the officers marked their assignment complete, the WCPO timeline said.
In his second call, Plush again made it clear that he knew he was dying.
“This is not a joke. I’m trapped inside my gold Honda Odyssey van in the parking lot of Seven Hills Hillsdale.”
“Send officers immediately. I’m almost dead.”
As the second call ended, Plush appeared to struggle to breathe.
Throughout the second call, Plush could be asking, “Hey, Siri?” It appeared that he used the iPhone voice command to call 911.
Investigators did not say where in the van they found the teen’s phone.
It was also unclear when Plush’s second call, which lasted about three minutes, was placed.
A Hamilton County sheriff’s deputy working a traffic detail at Seven Hills responded to the calls about 10 minutes after city officers marked their assignment complete and 32 minutes after Plush’s first call for help, WCPO reported.
The deputy was also unable to find Plush’s van, and though he continued searching, he questioned whether the calls had been a prank.
The dispatcher pointed out that she put in the 911 system that the caller could be in a thrift store parking lot across the street from the school, Fox19 in Cincinnati reported.
“I was in there. I just looked in a van over there. I didn’t see anybody in it,” the deputy said, according to the news station.
It was not clear if the van the deputy found was Plush’s minivan.
Plush’s mother, identified by his elementary school as Jill Plush, also called 911 Tuesday evening after she and his father, Ron, determined he was missing.
“My son never came home from school,” Jill Plush said, according to Fox19. “We thought he was at a tennis match, and he never came home from school.”
“He had been on the practice squad of the tennis team and was due to play in his first match yesterday,” Jackie Taggart-Boyd wrote. “He didn’t show up. Hours later, they discovered him.”
Taggart-Boyd indicated that Plush had a physical disability, but did not specify what that disability was. She said it never stopped the teen from trying everything.
She said her son, Spencer, described his friend as the “most positive person he ever met.”
“I can tell you that Spencer spoke of Kyle often,” the distraught parent wrote. “I only met him a couple of times, but every time Spencer told me a Kyle story, he ended it with, ‘I LOVE Kyle!’”
A Seven Hills School spokesperson said in a statement that Plush started attending the school in the sixth grade.
“He was a young man of keen intelligence, good humor and great courage, and this whole community feels this loss very deeply,” the statement read.
A classmate, Preston Luniewski, told WLWT-TV that Plush was a “spectacular” person.
“He just lit up the classroom,” Luniewski said. “He would always be in class, paying attention, really productive in that environment.”
Counselors were called in to help students and staff cope with the loss.
The teen’s elementary school, Mercy Montessori, is hosting a community prayer gathering in his memory Thursday night.
“Some of our older children have siblings who are currently in high school and have been contacting me throughout the day looking for a place to gather,” Patty Normile, principal of the school, wrote on the school website. “We will use the strength of prayer, compassion and empathy to help our Mercy students, alumni family and friends.”
Normile wrote that besides his parents, Plush also has a sister in the seventh grade.
A nude man reportedly assaulted two Metro passengers in Washington, D.C., early Thursday, police said.
According to WRC-TV, nobody suffered serious injuries in the incident, which occurred about 6 a.m. at the Dupont Circle station.
Police reportedly have arrested the man, whom a Metro spokesperson described as "naked and disorderly."
A bystander recorded video of the man attacking a passenger, WTTG reported.
A "couple of riders say they jumped in, held the man down until police arrived!" tweeted WTTG reporter Annie Yu.
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