An unaccompanied minor was booted from an overbooked easyJet flight and left alone at a departure gate at Gatwick Airport in London, according to news reports.
The 15-year-old boy, who was going to visit relatives in Toulouse, France, was bumped from the flight Thursday when another passenger claimed his seat, according to the Guardian.
“It’s crazy. They left him alone in departures,” his mother, Stephanie Portal, told the newspaper. “Luckily, I had still not got on board my train to London and could come back and find him. If I had not been there I don’t know what would have happened — he’d have had no money for the train back or anything.”
EasyJet apologized Friday, and a spokeswoman for the airline said it is investigating why the child, identified by the airline as Casper Reid, was not given priority when the flight was overbooked.
“EasyJet has a procedure to protect unaccompanied minors but unfortunately this was not followed on this occasion and so this will also be investigated,” easyJet said in a statement to The Washington Post.
“As his mother was at the airport one of our managers went to meet her whilst we arranged for him to be transferred landside to meet up with her,” it said.
EasyJet, a budget airline in Britain, states on its website that children younger than 14 must travel with an adult, though 14- and 15-year-olds can travel on their own.
The teen, from Worthing, West Sussex, was put on another flight later that evening and arrived in Toulouse after midnight, according to the Guardian, which, along with several other news outlets, spelled his last name “Read.”
“That is really not what we would want. It’s just not our way,” easyJet chief executive Carolyn McCall said of the incident, according to the newspaper.
She added, however, that easyJet does not have an issue with overbooking flights, saying: “We don’t see an overbooking issue. We don’t tend to overbook in peak periods.”
The mishap comes in an age of air-travel uprisings — in the year of the dead baggage rabbit and the dragging of David Dao. Across the United States and much of the world, this is a time of terminal brawls and pre-takeoff walkouts, as frustrated passengers fight back against the airlines with cellphone cameras and viral outrage.
Families claim they have been booted from flights over a birthday cake and a toddler kicking a passenger’s seat. There have been smashing wine bottles, biting and racist and politically charged rants.
Avi Selk contributed to this report.