A 14-year-old boy flying unaccompanied to visit his grandparents in Sweden got put on a connecting flight to Germany instead.
Luckily he realised it before the plane took off from Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey. He was able to notify the flight attendant and get the plane turned around before it actually left the ground.
Meanwhile, back at home in North Carolina, the teen's frantic mother was on hold with United Airlines after her son texted her that he was on the wrong flight.
"The Unaccompanied Minor (UM) attendant was supposed to deliver him to Flight SK904 to Stockholm," the boy's mother, Brenda Berg, told USA Today. "According to my son, the UM agent took him from the UM room at Newark to the Eurowings flight to Germany that he boarded. The United agent handed my son's paperwork to the agent at the gate, who immediately moved him onto the plane, apparently without looking at this UM paperwork."
She didn't realise the error until her son texted her that he was on the wrong plane, she said. She immediately got on the phone, but was put on hold.
Berg then took to Twitter.
"@United @SAS my son is in the wrong plane!!! EWR you put him on a plane to Germany!!!!" she wrote, followed by a blow-by-blow live tweet stream detailing her attempts to resolve the issue.
The situation couldn't be resolved fast enough for Berg.
"It has now been 3 hours since my 14yo son said, 'I think they put me on the wrong plane and it is about to take off for Germany (instead of Sweden!).' United still has not called back, and our son is on his own in @EWR," Berg tweeted. "When I got through to United after almost an hour, they dragged me out for another 45 minutes. The minute they heard, 'There is an unaccompanied minor on a plane to the wrong country,' someone should have sprung to action. United Airlines fix your dangerous minor program!"
The resolution didn't feel like much relief to the family, given that it entailed a seven-hour delay in the young traveller's journey, which included an hours-long layover in Copenhagen – just what the family was trying to avoid with the initial domestic connection in the US from Raleigh, North Carolina.
He is landing in Denmark now. This is not what we wanted - an international transfer. 🙏🏻 I have been up all night thinking about the fact that he was one call button away from landing in Germany without being on the manifest! They were taxiing on the runway! #NeverUnitedAir— Brenda Berg (@BrendaBerg) July 1, 2019
United apologised to the family and issued a statement clarifying that the plane to Germany never took off and that the boy, Anton, had finally arrived where he was supposed to.
"The safety and well-being of all of our customers is our top priority, and we have been in frequent contact with the young man's family to confirm his safety and to apologise for this issue," United said in a statement emailed to the Daily News. "Once Eurowings recognised that he had boarded the wrong aircraft in Newark, the plane returned to the gate - before taking off. Our staff then assisted the young customer to ensure that he boarded the correct rebooked flight later that evening. We have confirmed that this young customer safely reached his destination."