A major US airline has been ordered to pay damages for leaving a teenager overnight in a terminal, writes David Ing
Delta Airlines reportedly left a teenage girl passenger to sleep alone in an airport terminal overnight after a late cancellation of the transatlantic flight she was due to fly home on.
A court in Madrid sentenced the airline to pay €1,200 after hearing that, unlike other people on the plane, she was not offered an overnight hotel bed because she was told she was too young to be registered.
The court case was held last year but details only emerged in Spanish media in March after website claims company reclamaciondevuelos highlighted the sentence as part of its campaign to seek increased damages payments for airline passengers subjected to delays and cancellations.
It said that the incident occurred when the girl, who had just turned 17 years old, was flying home to Spain from Louisville via Atlanta, Georgia.
At Atlanta the connecting flight to Madrid was initially delayed for several hours and then aborted altogether a few minutes after the plane took off.
Back in the terminal, Delta Airlines staff announced that they would be putting the passengers on a flight the following day and began organising transfers to nearby hotels.
“However, the girl was told she could not be registered in a hotel because she was under 18,” said Javier Lopez, a spokesman for reclamaciondevuelos, which took the case to court on the behalf of the teenager’s family.
As a result, she had to stay overnight at the airport terminal, where there was no-one to supervise her welfare.
When she finally got home to Spain the teenager’s parents lodged an official complaint against the airline.
When Delta replied with a letter offering loyalty card points for future flights as compensation for the incident, the girl’s father decided to approach the flight claims website to take up the case, said Mr Lopez.
“She got caught in a legal vacuum,” he added. “The airline needed to find a solution, but they left her to fend for herself.”
Delta has been asked to comment on the case, but at the time of writing has not replied.