Here’s a story about a 15-year-old boy who was traveling alone on a Southwest Airlines flight from Phoenix to Tulsa. When the plane arrived at his destination, the boy was sleeping with headphones on and didn’t hear the announcements or notice that passengers were disembarking. He slept through the ensuing take-off and landing as well as the litany of annoying announcements that accompany those events.
The plane continued to its next and final stop, St. Louis. The boy awakened and noticed that St. Louis is not Tulsa.
For 24 hours, he wandered around St. Louis until finally a kind person helped him call home.
The boy’s mother was not happy with the airline saying, "The child wakes up in St. Louis with no family, no money, no cell phone and no help,"
Southwest apologized and refunded the cost of the ticket. Yes, they should have noticed the sleeping boy, and they need to figure out how this could have happened. [System error or human error? I say “human,” but Southwest will probably say “system” and develop a new policy. See my previous blog on system vs. human error.]
But wait a second. I have three sons, who thankfully all are no longer teenagers. What parent in her right mind would send a 15-year-old boy alone on a plane with no money? What if weather or equipment trouble had forced the plane to divert from Tulsa? I guess mom assumed that Southwest would notify whoever was meeting him in Tulsa and feed the child until his journey resumed. Also, he must be the last 15-year-old boy in the United States without a cell phone.
Did he even know who was picking him up in Tulsa? Did he speak to any Southwest employee in St. Louis? Did anyone report him missing? Was there an “Amber Alert”? The plane had to have been on the ground in Tulsa for at least 45 minutes. Did the person who was to meet him in Tulsa call the mother and say he didn’t show up or better yet, ask someone at Southwest in Tulsa where he was?
So let’s list the stupid people in this drama—the mother, the boy, the person picking him up in Tulsa, unknown numbers of Southwest employees [cleaning people, flight attendants] and KPHO-TV in Phoenix for its “blame the airline” slant on the story.
This country is circling the drain right now. The future is grim. God help us all.