Three children forced to sleep in airport store room after MASSIVE bungle by airline
Content Editor / March 19 2019
Three young children under the age of 10 were forced to sleep rough on cardboard boxes in an airport store cupboard due to a major mix-up by an airline, Seven News reports.
The problems began when a Virgin Australia flight from Brisbane to Sydney was diverted to Melbourne last Thursday due to thunderstorms.
Nine-year-old John Meredith, who was flying alone to see his grandparents in Sydney, instead spent the night at Melbourne's Tullamarine Airport, along with two other children he'd never met.
John’s mother, Katie Meredith, said the whole thing was a “comedy of errors” during which she feared for the safety of son.
She had paid extra to ensure John was supervised on his short flight, she told Daily Mail.
"John was supposed to get into Sydney at 9.10pm where his grandparents were waiting to pick him up. I tracked the flight (via a tracker app) and around Singleton it disappeared off the grid."
Katie said she eventually saw the plane had been diverted to Melbourne, but claimed no one from Virgin contacted her to let her know.
“Let's not forget we are talking about a nine-year-old boy, who last month had a heart operation. I would never agree to have him sleep on the floor at an airport,” she said.
“His godmother lives in Melbourne, she would have picked him up if I had the opportunity to know he wasn't going to a hotel.”
The worried mum said John’s grandmother received a call shortly before midnight to let her know her grandson had touched down in Melbourne airport.
Shortly afterwards, Katie received a call saying he had been fed McDonalds. Close to 3am, John’s family received a text saying John would be on a flight at 10am. They asked what hotel he was staying in but got no reply.
John ended up staying in a storage room off the Virgin Lounge, where staff made a makeshift bedroom from boxes.
A Virgin Australia spokesperson said “due to the Grand Prix being held in Melbourne that weekend, there was no available accommodation”.
The spokesperson also said it “regrettably” failed to respond to a message from John’s nominated guardian.
While the Merediths suffered a night of stress and anxiety over John’s wellbeing, their son admitted his time in the lounge was at least an enjoyable experience.
“We got to make a box fort – like a big one,” he said.
Nicola Conville has worked as a journalist and editor for more than 20 years across a wide range of print and online publications. Her areas of expertise are parenting, health and travel. She has two children; Lucy, age eight, and Nathan, age five.