Help! United left my 13-year-old daughter in Syracuse

What does United Airlines’ unaccompanied minor fee cover? Katrina Cichosz wants to know, and after reviewing her case, I’m kind of curious, too.

Let’s go right to the textbook definition, which is on United’s website. When her 13-year-old daughter, Gabrielle, flew home for Thanksgiving on Nov. 21, she had the option of paying the $99 fee to cover “the extra handling required” for managing a child’s travel, but technically, she didn’t have to.
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Is this enough compensation? Sorry, your kids have the wrong ticket

Like any good father, LeRoy Villanueva tried to cover all of his bases when he put his two children on a plane from Paris to Los Angeles recently. Most important to him was buying the required unaccompanied minor service, which would allow his kids to fly without an adult.

“I asked British Airways if I could buy the tickets at a third-party travel agency and pay the airline separately for the unaccompanied minor service,” he says. “A phone agent told me that I would have to purchase two adult fares from the online travel agency and then afterwards — at least 48 hours before departure — pay British Airways’ unaccompanied minor Service fee.”

He verified the information by phoning the airline a second time; again, it offered the same choices.

But the airline left out an important detail.
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This could have turned out very badly

sfIt’s every parent’s worst nightmare: Your 11-year-old son is scheduled to fly home on his own, but on the eve of his departure, the airline tells him his ticket is no good. Specifically, he has no ticket.

It happened to Meera Gopalan this weekend. Here’s the frantic email I got from her on Saturday.
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