United Airlines put unaccompanied minor, 14, on a flight to the wrong country

The boy would have ended up in Germany instead of Sweden.
The boy would have ended up in Germany instead of Sweden. Photo credit: Getty

A teenage boy travelling as an unaccompanied minor was put on a plane heading to the wrong country by United Airlines staff.

The boy's mother, Brenda Berg, posted a tweet to United Airlines at around 5:30pm on Sunday (local time). She claimed her son was placed on the wrong plane during a transfer at Newark Liberty International Airport, New Jersey. 

Anton Berg, 14, was travelling to visit his grandparents in Sweden. He booked his journey through the Scandinavian airline SAS, flying from Raleigh-Durham International Airport in North Carolina and connecting to Stockholm via Newark.

However, Brenda Berg says her son was directed to the wrong plane - a flight to Dusseldorf, Germany, operated by German airline Eurowings.

His mother said she was forced to register Anton as an unaccompanied minor because of his age. United Airlines charged Berg US$150 for their unaccompanied minor service when she arrived at the airport with Anton. 

United's website says the service for unaccompanied minors, which provides airline staff assistance for children travelling alone, is mandatory for 5-to-14-year-olds flying solo.

After arriving in Newark, Anton was "sequestered in a room of minors" before being put "on the wrong plane", Berg wrote on Twitter.

"He is an experienced traveler and it would have been entirely fine," his mother tweeted.

The mishap occurred when the gate for his flight to Stockholm changed between when the flight information was printed and when the 14-year-old arrived at Newark. 

A United representative told Business Insider that the Dusseldorf flight was one passenger short, who had a similar name to Anton. Anton's escort heard the announcements, assumed the passenger was him, and rushed Anton onto the flight despite his wrong boarding pass.

According to Berg, her son realised he was on the wrong plane and notified a flight attendant while both the Dusseldorf and Stockholm flights were on the ground. By the time the Eurowings plane let her son off, the SAS flight had departed.

The situation was eventually resolved when SAS helped Anton book another flight to Copenhagen, Denmark, with a connection on to Stockholm.

"He will have 7hours of additional travel," his mother tweeted. "Never trusted @United with your children.

"Ironically, @United if you hadn't accompanied him, this would never have happened."

Eurowings did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request for comment about how Anton was allowed to board the flight with an incorrect boarding pass.

United reportedly refunded the fee for unaccompanied minor service.

"What if he had been 10?" Anton's mother told the publication.

"If you're going to have an unaccompanied minor programme, it absolutely has to work correctly."