American Airlines apologizes to special-needs kids for 13-hour delay

American Airlines is apologizing to parents who say the carrier didn’t notify them when the cross-country flight carrying their special-needs, unaccompanied minor children home from summer camp was delayed overnight on Friday.

Nine children were returning to the Portland, Oregon, area from Camp New Friends in Charlottesville, Virginia, which welcomes kids with neurofibromatosis, a genetic condition in which tumors develop in the brain, spinal cord, nerves and skin.

When their flight was canceled, the kids – one just 8 years old – had to spend the night in the airport in Charlotte, North Carolina.

In a statement to USA TODAY, American spokesman Ross Feinstein said, “Unfortunately, after boarding Flight 1736 from Charlotte to Portland on Friday, the flight experienced a mechanical delay that caused it to remain in Charlotte overnight. The children were kept in our dedicated unaccompanied minor room where they were kept safe and comfortable in the care of American Airlines personnel at all times. They departed to Portland on Saturday morning.”

A group of parents say American Airlines failed to inform them that their special-needs kids' plane was delayed 13 hours overnight on the other side of the country.

But the families take issue with American’s claim that the kids were kept comfortable and supervised at all times.

‘We need real food to be able to take our medication’

They say that after sitting on the plane for five hours, the children spent the rest of the night in a room at the airport, where their parents say they were not properly looked after. Among their complaints: They were given few bathroom breaks, were unable to charge their phones and could not take medications to fend off seizures and migraines at the prescribed times because they hadn’t been fed since breakfast. 

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