1. Headline
  1. Headline

Video: Mom of girl, 10: Airline ‘didn’t know where she was’

By
TODAY contributor
updated 8/16/2012 9:05:53 AM ET 2012-08-16T13:05:53

When Phoebe Klebahn’s parents sent her thousand of miles to summer camp, they paid United Airlines an extra fee of $99 to make sure she got there safely. So when her mom got a call from a frantic counselor saying that Phoebe had failed to arrive on her scheduled flight, Annie Klebahn imagined the worst for her daughter.

  1. More from TODAY.com
    1. Joan Rivers' daughter Melissa says Mom's condition 'remains serious'

      Melissa Rivers, the daughter of comedian Joan Rivers, has arrived at the New York City hospital where her mother was rushe...

    2. Sandy Hook mom: Shootings changed how we feel about going back to school
    3. Bill Murray sighting actually makes perfect sense for once
    4. 'Are we there yet?' Surviving the family road trip
    5. Ariana Grande on how she played off her most embarrassing on-stage moment

Ten-year-old Phoebe was headed for a summer camp in Traverse City, Mich., when she boarded her flight from San Francisco in June. But she failed to make her connection in Chicago because the person hired to help her make the plane change — a United contractor — never showed up.

Skies friendlier, but air traveler complaints soaring

After getting the call from the camp counselor, Annie Klebahn called United, who insisted her daughter was already in Michigan. “So at that point is when I really knew that they had lost her at some level; they didn’t know where she was,” Klebahn told NBC News. “All the worst possible things go through your mind as a mom when you think you have no idea where your child is and she’s 2,000 miles away.”

Phoebe said a United employee eventually walked her to a waiting room for unaccompanied minors.

“I asked several times to call my mom because I knew she’d be worried because no one really knew where I was,” Phoebe said. “But they kept saying, ‘Hang out a minute, we’re busy.’”

Overhead Bin: 10-year-old girl stranded at Chicago airport

Her parents, meanwhile, spent nearly an hour on the phone before they could reach a United employee at Chicago O’Hare International Airport.

“She came back and said, 'Actually, I can’t sort it out and I’m going off my shift,’” Annie Klebahn said. “My husband asked her if she was a mother and she said, ‘Yes, I am.’ And he said, ‘How would you feel if you couldn't find your daughter for 45 minutes?’”

Video: Mom of girl, 10: Airline ‘didn’t know where she was’ (on this page)

The Klebahns said it took six weeks and prodding by NBC-affiliate KNTV before United finally responded to their complaints with an apology.

“What the Klebahns describe is not the service we aim to deliver to our customers,” United said in a statement. “We are redepositing the miles used to purchase the ticket back into Mr. Klebahn's account in addition to refunding the unaccompanied minor charge. We certainly appreciate their business and would like the opportunity to provide them a better travel experience in the future.”

Kids flying solo: What age is appropriate

NBC News reached out to the company United contracts to escort children traveling alone, but has not received a response.

The Klebahns chose another airline to fly Phoebe back home from camp.

© 2013 NBCNews.com  Reprints

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

More on TODAY.com

  1. Courtesy of Hockley family

    Sandy Hook mom: Shootings changed how we feel about going back to school

    8/29/2014 1:02:40 PM +00:00 2014-08-29T13:02:40
  1. Courtesy Andreas Kleinke

    'Brand new mini': Former Apple employee's baby announcement is charming

    8/29/2014 4:28:59 PM +00:00 2014-08-29T16:28:59
  1. Ben Garvin via Instagram

    Bill Murray sighting actually makes perfect sense for once

    8/29/2014 7:18:44 PM +00:00 2014-08-29T19:18:44
  1. Ariana Grande brings her ‘Everything,' huge crowd to TODAY plaza

    When you’ve got pop’s reigning princess making a royal visit to your show, what do you do? In the case of TODAY Friday, you just hand over the keys to the kingdom.

    8/29/2014 12:46:14 PM +00:00 2014-08-29T12:46:14
  2. video Pop star performs her No. 1 hit, ‘Problem’

    video The singer performs her hit tune on the TODAY plaza. Her second album, “My Everything,” is already No. 1 on iTunes in 80 countries.

    8/29/2014 6:49:03 PM +00:00 2014-08-29T18:49:03
  3. Ariana Grande on how she played off her most embarrassing on-stage moment

    Reigning princess of pop Ariana Grande exudes confidence on stage these days, but she says that wasn't always the case. Watch the video to find out how Grande played off a rocky moment during a performance.

    8/29/2014 4:35:57 PM +00:00 2014-08-29T16:35:57
  4. Jamie Mccarthy / Getty Images