National Consumer News

JetBlue offers $10,000 ‘gift’ after 5-year-old boy placed on wrong flight, mother says


Cox Media Group National Content Desk

A woman whose son flew to the wrong state after he was placed on the wrong flight said JetBlue offered her $10,000 as a “gift.”

Maribel Martinez said she arranged for her 5-year-old son, Andy Martinez Mercado, to fly as an unaccompanied minor from the Dominican Republic, where he was staying with family, back to their home in New York on Aug. 17.

But when she went to the airport to pick him up, airline employees presented her with the wrong child.

“Is this your son?” Martinez said she was asked.

“No, this is not my child,” she replied.

Martinez had paid an extra $100 for a JetBlue representative to escort her son onto the plane, The New York Daily News reported.

“I thought he was kidnapped. I thought I would never see him again,” Martinez told The Daily News.

JetBlue employees eventually discovered that Andy and the other boy had been placed on the wrong flights. Andy was in Boston, where the other child was supposed to fly. The boys had been given each other’s passports.

“It was a total three hours before she found out he was O.K. and wasn’t kidnapped,” Martinez’s lawyer, Sanford Rubenstein, said.

“Upon learning of the error, our teams in J.F.K. and Boston immediately took steps to assist the children in reaching their correct destinations,” JetBlue said in a statement. “While the children were always under the care and supervision of JetBlue crew members, we realize this situation was distressing for the families … We are also reviewing the incident with our leadership and Santiago airport team to prevent similar situations from occurring in the future.”

Martinez said she received a call on Sept. 3 from a woman who identified herself as an airline supervisor at JetBlue’s corporate headquarters.

“(The woman) apologized for what happened and said she was a mother, too, and felt bad about what happened,” Martinez, who only speaks Spanish, told The Daily News through a translator. “They wanted to give me a gift of $10,000 for what happened.”

The attempt was the airline’s first form of an apology since the August incident.

Martinez said she heard the word “regalo,” Spanish for “gift,” and cut the conversation short.

“I said, ‘I have a lawyer and we didn’t need to speak any further. Contact my lawyer,'” Martinez said. “I felt … like they were trivializing the matter.”

Rubenstein called the call “unethical.”

“I don’t understand how, after the news said that I was representing her, they didn’t reach out to me,” he told Fox News Latino.

Rubenstein said he believes JetBlue may have been trying to offer a form of a payoff to get Martinez to release the airline from any damages. He wrote a letter to JetBlue officials, demanding that the airline not contact Martinez.

Rubenstein is also calling for an independent investigation of the incident.

“Currently, JetBlue investigates itself, and that’s not enough,” he told Fox News Latino. “Our main concern is that no other mother goes through what she went through.”

Martinez, who was refunded $475 for the cost of her son’s ticket and given a $2,100 travel credit with the airline, said she won’t travel with JetBlue in the future.

Read more at The New York Daily News.

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