This airline kicked a 12-year-old off a plane because it said his parents hadn't paid an extra fee

It's tempting to focus on an airline's failures.

The ones we hear about are often the most glaring, painfully inhuman errors.

Sometimes, though, it's also worth focusing on how airlines explain -- or don't -- what happened.

Here is the story of a 12-year-old boy flying alone for the first time from Cleveland to Tampa.

The outward-bound flight went smoothly.

On the way back, however, he was kicked off the flight because Frontier Airlines staff claimed his parents, Desiree and John Ilg, hadn't paid an extra minor fee.

Airlines do so love their fees. They're normally very good at collecting them before they let anyone on a plane.

As WOIO-TV reports, his parents are furious.

They say they had no idea that they owed some extra fee. Indeed, if the outward bound flight had been fine, why would they ever think that their child would be removed from the one coming back?

And why would he have been let on the flight in the first place?

"The airline didn't contact us," said the boy's mom. "Our son had to contact us."

This seems marginally unhinged. It was fortunate that the Ilgs' son had a cellphone. What if he hadn't had?

As it was, the boy was left alone for two hours at the airport, until his grandma came back to pick him up.

But wait, there's more. When the Ilgs complained to the airline, they say they were offered a $50 travel voucher. And, John Ilg says, nothing resembling an apology.

I contacted Frontier to ask for its side and will update, should I hear.

The airline did, however, offer WOIO a statement that, well, deserves parsing.

It began: "We apologize to the parents for the inconvenience and confusion they encountered while their son was traveling with us last week."

Inconvenience? His parents must have been worried sick that their child had been left alone at an airport.

A delayed flight is an inconvenience. A bumped 12-year-old is far more than that.

Frontier's statement continued with this: "There was a customer service failure during this child's travel experience with us in Tampa. At the time, Frontier made every effort to contact the parents to notify them of this issue regarding fee collection, in the absence of a guardian with the child at the airport."

Some might find this painful.

If there was a customer service failure, how could Frontier have "made every effort to contact the parents"?

A failure rather suggests a shortfall in effort.

The boy's mom is clear that there were no efforts made at all.

And then there's "in the absence of a guardian with the child at the airport."

This reads like a dig at the boy's grandma for not sticking around at the airport, in case the boy was kicked off the flight because of a "customer service failure."

Because of course she should have anticipated that.

"We have coached airport team members and ensured compliance with Frontier policy regarding unaccompanied minor travel," concluded the statement.

A translation might be: "Oh, this was bothersome because it got out into the media, so we chatted with the staff and asked them not to do it again."

Frontier hasn't had the finest of weeks.

Last week, a 70-year-old man and his daughter said they were kicked off a Frontier flight because they talked to each other about how miserable the flight attendants looked.

I'm astonished that it wasn't because they hadn't paid the elder fee and the daughter fee.

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United Bans Leggings
Two passengers were denied boarding because they were wearing leggings in March. According to United, the airline had a right to deny boarding based on dress code because the girls were using “buddy passes” and were, therefore, representing the airline when they fly, similar to employees.

Photo Credit: Getty 

David Dao
Definitely not an employee, David Dao was forcibly removed from a United flight in April after he refused to give up his seat on an "overbooked flight," resulting in a serious concussion, a broken nose, and two lost teeth. Video of the incident went viral, causing United to change their policy and get slapped with a lawsuit that was quickly settled.

Photo Credit: Youtube

Giant Rabbit Dies
United also faced another controversy when a giant rabbit being transported on one of its planes died in the cargo during a flight. According to The Sun newspaper, the animal, named Simon, was the son of the world’s largest rabbit -- a four-foot long continental rabbit called Darius --and was expected to have grown larger than his father.

“Something very strange has happened and I want to know what. I’ve sent rabbits all around the world and nothing like this has happened before," said owner Annette Edwards.

Photo Credit: Twitter 

Bride and Groom Booted From Flight 
A bride and groom traveling to Costa Rica for their wedding in April were escorted off a United Airlines flight after they noticed a man sleeping in their seats and decided to move up three rows as to not wake the passenger. However, it was an "Economy Plus" seat and although the passengers said they complied to return to the seats, a U.S. Marshal removed them.

Photo Credit: Getty 

Altercation Between American Airlines and Mother
American Airlines suspended a flight attendant while investigating a scuffle between him, a mom and two babies. In a viral video, a woman is seen hysterically crying while holding a toddler, with a male flight attending yanking away the stroller for her second child.g a scuffle between him, a mom and two babies. In a viral video, a woman is seen hysterically crying while holding a toddler, with a male flight attending yanking away the stroller for her second child.

Photo Credit: Youtube

Delta Removes Passenger After He Used the Bathroom
At the end of April, a man was removed from a Delta flight after he used the bathroom while the plane awaited takeoff on the tarmac. 

Photo Credit: Getty 

Delta Worker Threatens Passengers With Jail Time
Early May, a Southern California family said they were kicked off an overbooked Delta flight because they refused to give up a seat they had bought for their young son sitting in a car seat. They were asked to have their son sit on their lap for the duration of the flight. They refused, saying they paid for the seat, to which the airline staff threatened the family with jail time.

Photo Credit: Getty 

Spirit Airlines Riot
In May, Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport descended into total chaos after nine Spirit Airlines flights were canceled, leaving hundreds of passengers stranded and increasingly irate in the terminal. The cancellations were the result of a legal dispute between the budget airline and the Air Line Pilots Association International. 

 Courtesy of Jary Romero/Handout via REUTERS

Teen Trapped in Airport Alone Overnight
According to CBC News, a 15-year-old boy was "trapped" overnight in an airport alone when Air Canada rebooked him on another flight after he missed his original one. However, the flight was almost 24 hours later and the airline did not offer him any accommodation or vouchers for food. Because he is a minor, he could not get a hotel room, he says.

(Photo by Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Passenger Forced to Pee in a Cup
Also in May, a passenger claimed she was forced to pee in a cup aboard a United flight after flight attendants told her she wasn’t allowed to use the lavatory until the pilot had turned off the fasten seatbelt sign.

The woman, who had an overactive bladder, was told the flight attendant would be filing a report about the incident.

Photo Credit: Getty 

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