Mother Says Her 9-Year Old Autistic Son Was Stranded at Airport

Southwest Airlines' policy is to not allow Unaccompanied Minors to travel during delays or cancellations.

A San Diego mother says her 9-year old son, who is on the Autism spectrum, flew on Southwest Airlines as an Unaccompanied Minor (UM) during delays caused by a computer glitch. But, according to the airline's website, no UM can be allowed to fly if there are delays or cancellations.

Kendra Wingfield told NBC 7 that Southwest never told her this before putting her son on a plane from San Diego to Oklahoma City.

On July 20, more than 900 Southwest Airline flights were grounded on July 20, leaving passengers stranded at airports across the U.S. 

Kendra’s son Jaxon was one of the passengers on Southwest Flight 1755 from San Diego to Oklahoma City, which had also been delayed due to the glitch.

She told NBC 7 that her son has high-functioning Autism. It was his first time flying alone.

When they got to the airport, they were told by Southwest Airlines that Jaxon’s flight was delayed three hours.

But Kendra says the airline did not inform her of their policy to not allow UMs to travel during delays.

When Jaxon arrived in Phoenix, Arizona, the connecting flight was also delayed and then canceled, leaving her son stranded at the airport.

“My 9-year old is calling me. He doesn't know what’s going on,” she said.

She says it was the airline’s responsibility to contact her or another family member to notify them of the delay but they did not receive any calls. Instead, it was her son who called her.

“I was on the phone with him when he asked a flight attendant to speak with me and they said they were too busy,” she told NBC 7.

Describing the situation as a heart wrenching, she said she was frantically calling Jaxon’s dad who lives in Oklahoma City and her mother-in-law to figure out how to bring her son home.

“I put my heart and soul on that plane and now we have no idea what's going on,” she said.

In a Facebook post, Kendra described the incident, saying that when she and Jaxon’s father arrived at the airport in Oklahoma City, no one from Southwest Airlines wanted to explain the situation to them. 

Kendra says what was supposed to be a three-hour trip, ended up being 12 hours for her son. Jaxon eventually made it to Oklahoma but she said so many things could have gone wrong.

“He was scared and I think any child put in that situation would feel the same way,” she told NBC 7.

Kendra has filed a complaint with the Department of Transportation and Southwest Airlines.

In a statement the airline wrote:

"We extend a heartfelt apology to all customers who were inconvenienced by the disruption in service our recent technology outage created. We appreciate their patience as we continue our work to make this right, individually reaching out to the thousands of customers impacted."

In their latest response to Kendra, Southwest tweeted her saying they will respond to her within 30 days.

“[Jaxon] will not be flying on Southwest ever again. Ever again,” Kendra said.

But she told NBC 7 that she can’t afford to buy another return flight for her son because Southwest has not given her a refund or compensation.

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