Two young children flying by themselves were taken to a hotel by an airline employee when the flight was diverted due to weather, according to their parents — who are angry the airline never gave them a heads up.
The parents say they were not notified by the airline when the July 22 flight from Iowa to Florida was diverted to Atlanta, Georgia. They say they only knew that the plane had landed because of apps, and had no idea where their 9-year-old son and 7-year-old daughter were.
"It was almost instant terror, you know, you're not with your kids, you're really out of control," said father Chad Gray.
The children's mother, Jennifer Ignash, was waiting for them in Orlando. "A lot of emotions were going through my head. I mean, most of all, I think I just I felt helpless. I felt guilty for even putting them on the flight," she told NBC News. "I thought 'Are they scared? Are they warm? Do they have food?' I do not blame Frontier for the flight being diverted. I fully understand that. But I do expect communication."
The parents say they were first informed as to what was happening when their son Carter borrowed a cell phone and sent them a text message saying that he and little sister were being taken to a hotel.
"No supervisor tried to call, no phone call, no emails, nothing like that took place so we were really in the dark," said Gray.
Jonathan Freed, a spokesperson for Frontier, said in a statement that the family never notified the airline about their concerns and that the corporate office only found out about the incident when media outlets began contacting them.
"In keeping with Frontier's policy, the children were attended to at all times by a Frontier supervisor, placed in a hotel room overnight, and provided with food. Our records show that the children were in contact with their mother before being transported to the hotel and with their father the following morning before leaving on the continued flight. We understand how an unexpected delay caused by weather can be stressful for a parent and our goal is to help passengers get to their destinations as quickly and safely as possible," Freed said.
According to Gray, the children said they were only given Rice Krispies Treats and water, and were put in separate rooms along with other "unaccompanied minors."
"My son ended up sleeping with a boy that was 5 years older than him," said Gray.
There are no federal regulations governing children flying on their own — so each airline makes it own policy.
"Parents need to definitely do a little bit more research and probably worry about this a little bit more," said Gray. "Because never in our wildest dreams did we think that this would happen."