After flight diverted, airline takes children traveling alone to hotel without notifying parents, attorney says

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ATLANTA —  Carter Gray, 9, and his sister Etta, 7, have been on dozens of flights but their first flight without their parents was a nightmare.

According to their attorney, the two were put on a Frontier flight from Des Moines, Iowa to Orlando, Florida on July 22nd. After hovering over Orlando’s airport for about 45 minutes, severe weather diverted the flight to Atlanta.

CBS46 reporter Ashley Thompson spoke to the Chad Gray, the kids’ father.

“We did not hear from a Frontier Airlines employee throughout this whole process and the only way we received any notification was from another unaccompanied minor who had a cell phone and he let my son call me,” he said.

Gray said gate agents with Frontier weren’t picking up the phone. He said around 2 a.m., airline employees made the decision to take Carter and Etta to a Holiday Inn without notifying him.

“They drove to the hotel in a Frontier Airlines employees’ personal vehicle” he said.

Around 4:30am, Carter sent his dad a text message to tell him they were at a hotel. He said there were several other unaccompanied minors in the room and one female airline employee.

“No one knew what to do,” said attorney Alan Armstrong. “The policies and procedures, taking children off airport premises around four in the morning…”

Armstrong, who’s also a pilot, is representing the family. He questions the airlines’ decision to fly out of Des Moines when there was a ground stop in Orlando.

“Negligence, poor communication, no communication, poor judgment by the pilot,” said Armstrong.

CBS46 contacted Frontier Airlines to further investigate this situation. They issued the following statement to our newsroom:

In keeping with Frontier policy, all parents were contacted. It is also policy for us to arrange hotel rooms for Unaccompanied Minors and for them to be supervised by a Frontier representative. We understand that when something like an unexpected delay or diversion due to weather happens that it can be stressful for parents. We take the safety and security of all passengers seriously and Unaccompanied Minors are no exception.

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