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JetBlue mixed up two 5-year-olds and sent them to the wrong cities on August 17, leaving one panic-stricken mother waiting three hours while the airline located her son.
Andy Martinez Mercado, 5, was traveling alone from a family visit in the Dominican Republic to his home in New York after his mother had returned from the trip about two weeks prior. Instead, he wound up in Boston, over 200 miles away, his mother, Maribel Martinez, told the New York Daily News.
“I thought he was kidnapped,” she said. “I thought I would never see him again.”
JetBlue employees brought Martinez a different 5-year-old boy, who they thought was her son — and she said he was carrying her son’s passport.
“No, this is not my child,” Martinez said she told the employees. The boy was supposed to be on a flight to Boston, but was put on the flight to New York by mistake.
Three hours later, JetBlue figured out that Andy was in Boston and placed him on the next flight to New York.
“I was freaking out. I didn’t know if he was alive,” she said. “I still haven’t stopped crying.”
JetBlue confirmed the incident to BuzzFeed News in a statement, and said they “immediately took steps to assist the children in reaching their correct destinations” once they learned of the mistake.
They have refunded the flights, offered the families JetBlue credit for future flights, and are reviewing the incident to prevent similar ones in the future.
“While the children were always under the care and supervision of JetBlue crew members, we realize this situation was distressing for their families,” they said.
According to JetBlue’s website, “photo identification is required for both parties who drop off and pick up an unaccompanied minor” and “unaccompanied minors will not be accepted without the guardian’s photo ID.”
They also require a parent or guardian’s phone number and address to be included with the minor’s reservation.
Martinez said she will never use JetBlue again, and is now considering legal action against the airline for negligence.
“Any parent can understand the terrifying fear a mother goes through knowing that her child is missing,” Martinez’s lawyer, Sanford Rubenstein, told the Daily News.
“This never should have happened and the JetBlue employees should be ashamed of themselves.”