An 8-year-old Hudson Hoyt was super excited for his first at Camp New Friends. For the week-long summer camp, he flew east in early August from Beaverton, Oregon. The program was organized outside Charlottesville, Virginia, specifically for children with neurofibromatosis, a genetic disorder that causes tumors to grow on nerve tissue.
The excitement soon became diminished while returning flight home via American Airlines. The mother of the child complained that his son and eight other unaccompanied minors from the camp were temporarily stranded, deprived of food. Their health condition is very poor.
Hudson, who suffers from anxiety, said in an interview with The Washington Post, “I felt scared.”
“When the plane stopped moving, I was afraid I was never going to see my mom again,” he added.
According to Hudson’s mother, the first plane arrived late because of a layover in Charlotte, North Carolina, and the children were rushed to their Portland, Oregon, fight without stopping for food.
But then the second plane was stalled by delays that were not communicated to the parents. First, fuel spilled on the tarmac. Then the airline decided to replace the pilot and co-pilot, who had worked too many hours.
On Friday night in a detailed Facebook post, Hoyt wrote, “American Airlines, how are you okay with leaving 9 unaccompanied children all with medical needs on a plane for over 5 hours and not giving their parents updates?”
“Or allowing the kids access to electricity to charge their phones to talk to their parents? You are disgraceful! And harming these children!”
Hoyt said after their overnight stay at the airport, the children were rushed onto a plane near about 6 a.m. EDT. The mother complained that the kids were not given breakfast as promised.
Kelley Phillips, another child said she and her friends had “limited” access to the bathroom and were only provided with snacks. “The only thing we had were crackers and soda, which isn’t good because we need real food to be able to take our medication,” Phillips said.
The American Airlines issued a public statement, seeking apology for the overnight delay due to a mechanical problem. “Our team is in the process of reaching out to the families involved and sincerely apologizes for this travel experience. We will be reviewing with our teams internally to understand how we can do better next time,” the airline wrote.