Mom says 12-year-old went missing while traveling as unaccompanied minor on American Airlines flight

"How did you lose my child? How do you lose an unaccompanied minor?" Monica Giliam said.

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Friday, July 8, 2022
Mom speaks out after 12-year-old daughter went missing after flight
Monica Giliam's daughter flew from Tennessee to Miami on American Airlines but received a call that the 12-year-old was missing before the girl eventually connected with her father at baggage claim.

MIAMI -- A mom in Georgia is expressing her frustration after her 12-year-old child wandered off a flight while traveling alone as an unaccompanied minor.

Monica Gilliam's daughter Kimber flew on board an American Airlines flight from Chattanooga, Tennessee, to Miami, Florida, last Saturday to visit her father. She said the airline allowed Kimber to walk off the plane alone.

"The manager from American Airlines called and said, 'Your child is missing,'" Gilliam said. "I was like, 'How did you lose my child? How do you lose an unaccompanied minor?'"

Gilliam said her daughter "felt like she was supposed to get up" once passengers began to deplane, telling her mom that a flight attendant even waved goodbye.

The U.S. does not have federal regulations involving the supervision of unaccompanied minors, but according to AA policy, "employees will board the child early" and "escort them off the plane to meet their guardian at the gate."

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Kimber's father used FaceTime to help the 12-year-old navigate her way through the airport to meet him at baggage claim, Gilliam said.

"She was nervous, and she was scared," Gilliam said. "But she did exactly what her dad told her to do to get her to safety."

In a statement to ABC News, American Airlines said it "cares deeply" about its young passengers and "is committed to providing a safe and pleasant travel experience for them." The airline added that it is taking the incident "very seriously" and is "looking into what occurred."

Parents should make sure kids are prepared before traveling alone, said Emily Kaufman, travel expert and founder of The Travel Mom.

"Inform them about the plan on the plane, getting off the plane and, when they're in need of something, that they can ask the flight attendants," Kaufman said.

She also advised parents to give their children lists of important contacts to keep in their pockets and carry-ons. They can also consider using trackers, like Apple's Find My, and should monitor their children's flights in case of early or late arrivals.