NEW YORK (UPI) — JetBlue accidentally switched two young boys passports, sending them each from the Dominican Republic to the wrong destinations.
The switch took place Aug. 17, when the airline escorted who they thought was 5-year-old Andy Martinez Mercado to his mother Maribel Martinez at John F. Kennedy airport in New York and instead presented her with another boy holding her son’s passport.
“I was freaking out,” Martínez told the New York Daily News. “I didn’t know if he was alive. I still haven’t stopped crying.”
Martinez was in a panic because she thought he had been abducted.
About three hours later, the airline located her son — who landed in Boston instead — and connected them via telephone. The two were finally reunited another three hours later. The other boy, who was not identified, was also reunited with his family later that day.
Martinez is planning a lawsuit against JetBlue and has hired attorney Sanford Rubenstein.
Rubenstein said Andy was left in the custody of JetBlue staff at Santiago airport in the Dominican Republic and Andy’s mother had paid an extra $100 fee for her son to be escorted by airline staff. But somehow, they still mixed him up with another boy and put him on the wrong plane.
“On August 17, two unaccompanied children of the same age traveling separately from Santiago, Dominican Republic — one to New York JFK and one to Boston — each boarded a flight to the incorrect destination,” said airline spokesperson Tamara Young in a statement. “Upon learning of the error, our teams in JFK and Boston immediately took steps to assist the children in reaching their correct destinations. While the children were always under the care and supervision of JetBlue crew members, we realize this situation was distressing for their families.”
JetBlue has refunded Martinez the cost of the flight plus offered another $2,100 credit for future flights. Martinez has rejected the offer.