Update: Southwest responds to claims 11 year old was left inside plane

News 12 at 6 o' clock/ June 26, 2014

AUGUSTA, Ga.--It's summer and a lot of families are sending kids to visit relatives for the break. If they're flying alone, most airlines require you pay for a service to get them there safely. Thousands of families trust those services to get their kids from point A to point B without any problems, but a local family had a big scare when they couldn't find their 11 year old when her plane landed.

Eleven year old Brianna Alleyn visits her dad and stepmom at Ft. Gordon during the summer. A couple of weeks ago, she made the AirTran flight by herself from Indiana to Atlanta. She says flying by herself is normally fun. "They're always very nice. They always ask me if I need anything, and they always go over everything with me, but this time they didn't."

Usually, when the plane lands, a flight attendant will usher the kids flying alone off first, but Brianna says, no one came to get her.

"A lady was sitting next to me, and she went up to tell them to come take me, but they didn't do anything about it," she said.

Brianna's Stepmom, Abigail, says, "My husband was waiting for her to come off the plane first and she didn't come. The entire plane emptied out. He watched everybody walk past, and then he watched the flight attendants leave the plane. Then, the gate guard closed the door and locked it."

When he didn't see his daughter, Brianna's dad asked a gate attendant where she was. "The ticket counter guy said that's not my job. I don't know where she is," Abigail says.

"I was afraid I was going to go somewhere else because that plane was leaving to go to another destination," Brianna says.

Brianna's dad finally found someone who went to check the plane. Sure enough, there she was. Sitting all alone.

Her stepmother says, looking back, the outcome could have been a lot worse since she was travelling to the world's busiest airport.

"She could've been taken, and it's very scary," she says.

She's called Southwest more than a dozen times and has not gotten a straight answer or a resolution to the problem.

"We just want some answers. We just want to know why it happened, what steps they're taking to make sure this never happens again, not only to Brianna, but also to another child," Abigail says.

We have reached out to Southwest which owns AirTran several times, and on Thursday evening, we received a call from a Southwest representative. Dan Landson with Southwest Airlines says Eleven year old Brianna Alley was never alone on a plane and the crew was on board the entire time. Landson also says the Brianna was never on a locked plane. As for the cost of unaccompanied minor tickets, Southwest charges $100, Delta-- $200, United-- $300, Spirit- $200 ,and US Airways charges $300, so it's not exactly a cheap ticket for a mishap like this to happen.

"We looked into the situation and confirmed all of our procedures were followed correctly," Dan Landson with Southwest said. "We’ve apologized to the customer’s family due to the length of time taken to close the investigation. We must reiterate the unaccompanied minor who traveled with us was never unattended."


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