Video: Airline forgets boy at airport

updated 7/26/2010 7:34:32 PM ET 2010-07-26T23:34:32

A nine-year-old boy was forgotten in a Chicago airport waiting room Saturday for nearly eight hours after an airline representative failed to put him on a connecting flight, the Ottawa Citizen reported.

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Julien Reid was headed home to Ottawa on a United flight after visiting his dad in San Francisco, a trip he makes about six times a year.

He left San Francisco at 6 a.m. and arrived at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport at 11 a.m. He was supposed to catch a connecting flight from Chicago to Ottawa at 1:50 p.m., which would have put him in Ottawa at about 4:45 p.m.

His mother, Genevieve Harte, checked online and saw that Julien's flight was delayed until 5:35 p.m. When she arrived at the airport to pick him up, she noticed other passengers had disembarked but that her son was nowhere to be found.

Then she got a call from Julien, using his own pre-paid cell phone.

He said he was still at the Chicago airport in a "tiny, little room cramped with kids," where they played the same video on a loop all day, the Ottawa Citizen reported. The only food he'd been given was McDonald's, but Julian is a vegetarian. He said the other children were yelled at to "stop being kids."

Harte, 36, asked Julien to put her on the phone with the United attendant who was watching the children. That's when the attendant let it slip that no one had come to fetch Julien to put him on his connecting flight, she told the Ottawa Citizen.

Harte suspects her son may have been intentionally bumped from an overcrowded flight.

"It's a lot easier to have a kid that's not going to say anything than an adult who has a business meeting that's going to scream at you in front of everybody," his mother told the Ottawa Citizen.

Julien was finally put on a flight that left Chicago at 7 p.m. after spending nearly eight hours in the waiting room.

United spokeswoman Megan McCarthy told the Ottawa Citizen that the airline apologized for the inconvenience and planned to offer Harte a refund for the child care fee and an undisclosed goodwill gesture.

Julien had his own message for the airline.

"I'll tell them to get me a better flight next time," he told the Ottawa Citizen.

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