RALEIGH-DURHAM, N.C. (WRAL/CNN/Gray News) – Brenda and Christer Berg spent a sleepless night over the weekend when their son nearly ended up in the wrong country.
Aton was flying on his own to visit grandparents in Sweden, but almost ended up in Germany instead.
The United Airlines agent responsible for Aton under their unaccompanied-minor program mistakenly put the 14-year-old on the wrong flight at Newark International Airport after the boy arrived from Raleigh-Durham.
"He texted me because he still was on the phone. ‘There are a lot of people speaking German on this flight. That's kind of odd isn't it?’ I said that it is kind of odd," Christer Berg said.
Back at home mom was frantically calling United and taking to Twitter too.
“It was absolute desperation. We have no way to reach the airline,” Brenda Berg said. “We were sitting there with a child on the runway about to fly to Germany, the wrong country, and we had no way to reach them.”
The Bergs said Aton’s plane was taxiing when he finally got the flight attendant's attention and the plane returned to the gate.
United has expressed its regrets for the mistake.
“The safety and well-being of all of our customers is our top priority, and we have been in frequent contact with the young man’s family to confirm his safety and to apologize for this issue," United spokesman Frank Benenati told USA Today.
"Our staff then assisted the young customer to ensure that he boarded the correct rebooked flight later that evening. We have confirmed that this young customer safely reached his destination.”
The Bergs say United has to do a better job with their unaccompanied-minor program.
“I just thought all night, ‘What if he’d been 12? What if he’d been 10? What if he didn’t have his cell phone on him?’” his mother said. “This can’t happen to anybody else."