Please just ignore the name of this website, as it has
nothing to do with what you are about to read, it's just a domain name that I
This page is all about my 7 year old son & his
"experience" on July 22nd 2007, flying as an Unaccompanied Minor as
a guest of Westjet Airlines. http://www.westjet.com/
Will (William, 7 Years Old, Nearly 8 ) left Calgary International
Airport, on a Boeing 737, Sunday morning heading for his grandmother, on
Vancouver Island. He was flying as an "unaccompanied minor"
(called a "UM"), something he's done 8 times before with no
problems or issues.
So, the plane lands in Comox, Will gets out of his seat & walks out of
the plane. This is despite he's wearing a tag around his neck showing he's a
"UM". Westjet's policy is that UM's should be told to sit & be
the last off the plane so that a CSR (Customer Service Rep) can meet them
& take them into the terminal & then stay with them until the
appointed pickup person shows up, shows proper ID & signs for the UM.
So here we have the flight attendant/attendants screwing up, all they said to
Will was, "thanks for flying Westjet, have a nice day". Will walked
out of the plane, across the tarmac & into the terminal. He wandered
around the terminal for about 20 minutes, by himself, wearing his neck tag
until his grandmother shows up, they get his luggage off the conveyor & they
walk out of the airport.
My wife. Lorna called Grandma about 6pm to find out how the flight was &
was surprised to find out grandma hadn't been asked to show ID or sign
anything or hadn't even spoke to an airline rep when she picked up Will.
Grandma was late getting there & the plane was already on the ground
& unloaded when she walked in to the terminal.
Lorna called Westjet & was told that Will had been "disruptive"
on the flight & that the flight attendants couldn't stop him from walking
off the plane. She also found out that another UM had also walked off this
same flight & had been found some time later by the CSR wandering around
the terminal alone. No one is saying when this other kid was found.
I called Westjet too (this is all Sunday evening) & asked for an
explanation of what happened & was told that the CSR who was supposed to
have met Will, would call me on Monday.
I got the call, the guy was nice & polite but the best
answer he could give me was that " by the time he got to the plane, both
UM's were already gone & he searched the terminal & could only find
one." I asked if this was standard Westjet policy to just give up when a
kid couldn't be found.
He assured me that he had notified his supervisor & that the supervisor
would follow up & "notify the proper people". I'm assuming this
meant Will's mother, father & grandmother who was supposed to be picking
him up & failing that, I'd assume the police.
Nothing of the sort was attempted. As far as this airline was concerned, Will
was missing & they just didn't give a damn. I asked if they were waiting
for the milk carton to come out before they acted but humor seems as rare as
common sense around this company.
I did get a call (Tuesday) from the "shift supervisor" from Comox,
who wasn't working Sunday or Monday & really had no clue about what had
happened. She was quite quick to lay the blame for this on the flight
attendant who "shouldn't ever let a UM off a plane, even if they are
kicking, screaming & biting". Her exact words & no, no-one is
claiming Will or the other kid were doing any of those things.
She said that she would be making a full report & that it would head up
to "higher ups" & that I would be contacted ASAP. She then
asked me what would "make me happy".
I said the only things I was looking for from this was a full explanation of
where their system fell apart & assurances that this wouldn't happen
again to him or any other child. I said that their system had huge holes in
it if three different levels could fail, at the same time. I also said that I
wanted to know if these failures were due to honest mistakes or just gross
incompetence. I said I could forgive mistakes but if this happened due to
laziness, stupidity or apathy then I would want this employee's/s head/s on a
July 25th, I was just told that the report has been sent to "Internal
Security" & that was the end of it as far as I was concerned. I
asked if I could contact someone in that Dept & was told "No".
I asked the CSR to put a note on the file stating that I wanted to hear from
someone from Security & she said that she'd make the note but they
wouldn't contact me, it "wasn't my business".
She said that the airline had credited us the UM fee($50) & had even
generously tossed in an extra $25 for our troubles & worries.
I don't want their damn money, I want an explanation of how my son got lost
by a major airline & nobody gave a damn!!!!
If I did want their damn money, they be about 150 zero's short of what I
think would be a proper value for my son's safety.
I'm eternally grateful that nothing happened to him & that he walked away
from this pretty much unaware of how dangerous of a situation he was in.
I'm not going to let them sweep this under a rug like they are trying too.
How many other kids has this or far, far worse happened to?
My worst fear is that if I let this drop, one day I'll pick up a newspaper
& read about another Westjet UM who wasn't as fortunate as my son &
was found by the wrong type people in the terminal.
So on Thursday, July 26, I emailed a letter (almost identical to what you
have read so far) to Bob Cummings (Executive Vice-President, Guest Experience
and Marketing) with the help of a friend who was able to track down his email
address. I got a call back within a few hours from Someone who work for Bob
(Megan) who said my email was the first that Bob had heard of this
"incident." She assured me that they would be all over this &
get to the truth ASAP.
So why did the VP of Guest Experience not know about a child that was missing
for about 6 hours while in Westjet custody? A child that seems to have
slipped through not one, not two but three different cracks in their UM
system all in the space of 20 minutes.
Hell, as a matter of fact, Will is still probably still legally in their care
due to the fact nothing has ever been signed & they have no clue as to
Megan asked for a few days to get to the bottom of this & figure out
where the mistakes had occurred, she assured me that they would handle this
quickly & provide me with answers. We agreed that we would talk again on
Tuesday, July 31. Finally I thought I was getting somewhere & that the
holes in their UM system would get patched & if there was negligence,
incompetence or just plane stupidity on the part of a Westjet employee,
someone would be held accountable.
So with no word by 2:30 pm on the Tuesday, I call Megan for an update.
So in the last 4 days that I've/we've been sitting on pins & needles,
what far reaching & profound facts have they discovered in their "no
stone unturned" investigation of this incident?
Apparently, Megan has as much pull in the company as the guy who empties the
ashtrays outside the terminal, none. She's requested reports from the Comox
office & the flight attendants & not a single one of them has
bothered to file anything.
Either that or they are trying to sanitize the reports before telling me
anything, I'm waffling on which is the truth.
I got off the phone with Megan feeling like I'd just been jerked around completely
for the last 11 days.
Are they worried about making sure this doesn't happen to another kid?
Sure doesn't seem like it, they seem to be spending most of their time &
effort doing damage control & feeding me a line of BS.
On Wednesday, Aug 2nd I did get a
call back from Megan, now things have turned around again. Apparently, she
got most of the reports yesterday & also was able to talk to me about
what the Internal Security Dept has dug up so far.
Basicly, it's boiling down to the
CSR who was supposed to meet Will at the plane & supposedly informed his
supervisor that he couldn't find Will & then called me on the Monday,
Well apparently, the SOB was lying
through his teeth.
He missed the plane all right,
apparently looked for Will by himself(he told me he had 3 people searching)
& then never reported it. He just flipped a coin & took a chance that
Will was found by the right people.
I want his head, on a plate,
delivered to Calgary.
Either that or Westjet can fly me out
to Comox & I'll collect it myself.
OK, I'll settle for his ass being
fired from Westjet & him never holding a job where he is responsible for
the safety of children again.
So now as of Aug 3, 2007, a full 12 days after Westjet lost my son, Iíve been
told Iíll have to wait till Aug 7th or so to hear anything more
because every is going away for the long weekend. The shift supervisor who
was on duty at the time all this happened isnít returning calls or requests
for a report.
I sure wish I could turn this off
in my head like that, but I guess since I donít lose children casually, Iím
not handling it as well as Westjet can.
†I'm tired of being a nice guy in this
situation & giving them a chance to step up & show that they do care
about the safety of children signed over to their care. Iíve given they every
possible chance & just keep hitting stalls & delays so Iím going to
try this. Maybe some public pressure will show them that their customers
regard this as a serious matter too.
Want a little piece of irony?
Snipped from their site: http://c3dsp.westjet.com/guest/about/westJetMissionTemplate.jsp
"WestJet is the official airline of the Missing Children Society
of Canada (MCSC), a registered non-profit organization dedicated to the
search for abducted and runaway children. "
Well stop losing them & that's 1/2 the battle right there!
I would like people to read this & think about what if this had been
their child/grandchild/niece/nephew/neighbor/ect. Is this the type of company
you want to trust while flying at 500+mph & 30,000 feet?
If you share my concern about the handling of this, please send an email to
any or all of the people listed below.
Executive Vice-President, Guest
Sean Durphy, Executive VP/CEO: email@example.com
Len Winzinowich, VP of Flight Operations: firstname.lastname@example.org
Wayne Schneider, VP Operations: email@example.com
Or you can call & make a comment to their Guest Relations Dept 1-800-538-5696
They don't seem to be too concerned that it was only through blind luck that
my son isn't now a statistic on the Missing Children Society of Canada
Or if you have any more info, tips
or words of support, I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org