Kids stranded after flight diverts, airline takes them to hotel without telling parents

ATLANTA (WGCL/CNN) - Two children flying alone found themselves stuck in Atlanta due to bad weather.

The two were reportedly taken to a hotel by a Frontier Airlines employee, and stayed in the city overnight.

The parents, however, never heard from the company themselves. They're so upset, they've hired a lawyer.

"I mean this is a failure on so many levels," the attorney, Alan Armstrong, said.

Carter Gray, 9, and his sister Etta, 7, have been on dozens of flights. But their first flight without their parents was a nightmare.

"This was the first year I said, 'OK, they're old enough to fly on their own, they know their phone number, they know their address,'" their mother, Jennifer Ignash, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Then, "it was like, OK, panic."

On July 22, the two were put on a Frontier flight from Des Moines, IA, to Orlando, FL.

Their father, Chad Gray, said when the flight landed in Atlanta because of the weather, the only way they were able to find out what happened to their children was from another kid letting them use his cell phone.

"We did not hear from a Frontier Airlines employee throughout this whole process," Gray said. "And the only way we received any notification was from another unaccompanied minor who had a cell phone, and he let my son call me."

Gray said gate agents with Frontier weren't picking up the phone.

Around 2 a.m., airline employees made the decision to take Carter and Etta to a Holiday Inn - without notifying their parents.

They drove to the hotel in a Frontier employee's personal vehicle.

At 4:30 a.m., Carter sent his dad a text telling him they were at a hotel.

There were several other unaccompanied minors in the room, and just one female airline employee.

"My son had to sleep with a boy that was five years older than he was," Gray said.

Armstrong, the lawyer representing the family, is also a pilot. He questioned the airline's decision to fly out of Des Moines when there was a ground stop in Orlando.

"Negligence, poor communication - no communication, really - poor judgment by the pilot," Armstrong said of the situation.

In a statement, Frontier said "our records show that the children were in contact with their mother before being transported to the hotel and with their father the following morning before leaving on the continued flight."

The airline's statement did not say that the airline itself contacted the Grays before moving the children to a hotel.

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