TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A Florida mom is suing American Airlines after she claims her kids were left in a room like a “jail cell” overnight after their flight was canceled.
Amber Vencill, of Jacksonville, filed the lawsuit Oct. 31 in the Supreme Court of the State of New York County of New York.
Vencill’s sons were on a flight on July 30, 2022, from Missouri to Syracuse, New York. They were going from visiting their father to visiting the family of her partner, Ted, according to the lawsuit. The flight had a layover in Charlotte.
First Coast News in Jacksonville reported that the children were 10 and 12 years old.
The flight from Missouri to Charlotte was delayed, and the flight from Charlotte to Syracuse was eventually canceled after multiple delays, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit says the airline contacted Ted, who was listed as the contact person for pickup in Syracuse, and told him the children would be on a flight to Syracuse the next morning at 9 a.m. Vencill said the airline told her the children would be on a flight at 5:21 p.m.
“Because of the conflicting information about the flight on July 31, 2022, plaintiff had no idea what flight her children would be on.” Ted was reportedly provided a phone number to directly contact the children, but the line had no response when called.
American Airlines told Ted the children would be kept in “a nice room for unaccompanied minors where there were beds and their own bathroom,” according to the lawsuit. However, Vencill claims the children were placed in a lost kids room with no food or drinks.
“The room was freezing, and the children spent the night on a sofa with the lights on.” The children were placed in “a cold room akin to a jail cell without food, water or a blanket,” the lawsuit reads.
Vencill eventually reached a non-airline employee at the airport, who was able to get in contact with her children and give them food.
Vencill sent an email to the Board of Directors of American Airlines to explain what happened, and she was contacted by customer support and offered a refund for the $150 that was paid for the chaperone service, according to the lawsuit.
American Airlines’ website shows that the $150 fee is required for children ages 5-14, and includes early boarding, kids-only lounges, snacks, and an airport escort between flights and for pickup.
The lawsuit claims American Airlines violated its own policies by misplacing her children.
Vencill claims American Airlines, upon learning of the incident, “merely offered a hollow apology and a refund, in essence telling plaintiff, sorry we lost your kids lady but here is your money back,” according to the lawsuit.
Vencill called the airline’s actions “shameful” and said the airline showed no regard for her well-being, as she was distraught not knowing where her kids were.
“The safety and comfort of our customers, including unaccompanied minors in our care, are our highest priorities and we’re committed to providing a positive experience to everyone who travels with us,” American Airlines said in a statement to WFLA.com. “We have been in touch with Ms. Vencill directly and we are reviewing the details of the lawsuit.”