Monica Gilliam said she was scared and anxious after she learned her 12-year-old daughter had been left wandering Miami International Airport alone.
On July 2, the Tennessee mother put her daughter Kimber on a flight from Chattanooga to Miami as an unaccompanied minor to visit her father.
A flight attendant was supposed to escort the child to her father once she landed. She was also given a lanyard and wristband with her father’s information.
“They should have walked her to the gate and handed her off to her dad only after checking his ID to match the information I gave them,” Gilliam said.
But, that didn’t happen, the mother said. Instead, the 12-year-old was left alone, wandering through the airport for about 30 minutes, according to Gilliam.
“The thought that someone could have taken her is terrible,” she said. “I’m still having bad dreams about it.”
Kimber eventually called her father who used FaceTime to help her read the signs so she could find him.
Gilliam said the airline didn’t realize the girl was missing until about an hour after she landed and had already found her father on her own.
“The manager of American Airlines in Miami called me and said ‘your child is missing,'” Gilliam said.
The mother posted a video on TikTok detailing the terrifying experience. The video went viral with more than one million views.
“I posted the video to help others, to keep children safe,” she said.
In a statement to NBC 6, American Airlines said: “American cares deeply about our young passengers and is committed to providing a safe and pleasant travel experience for them. We take these matters very seriously and are looking into what occurred. A member of our team has reached out to the customer to learn more about their experience.”
Gilliam said the airline tried to offer them free flights and a limo service, but she rejected their offers.
“We want American Airlines to tighten up their policies and put more training in place so this doesn’t happen again,” she said.