According to CTV News in Vancouver, 15-year-old Victor Shmulevich was flying home after completing a summer program at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut.
Shmulevich, who is from Richmond in British Columbia, attempted to board a plane at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Connecticut. But United Airlines gate agents told Shmulevich he couldn’t get on the flight.
“I gave the agent my passport, and I saw him look at me confused. ‘How old are you?’ ‘I’m 15.’ ‘We don't allow 15-year-olds on connecting flights,’” Shmulevich said, according to NBC Connecticut.
“I replied, ‘This ticket is booked in my name’ ... The agent was like, ‘You can’t board, I’m sorry,’” Shmulevich told CTV News. “I’m just there trying to not freak out because I have nowhere to go back to. I have no relatives in Connecticut.”
Gate agents told Shmulevich he was not allowed to board the plane due to a United Airlines policy that states that minors cannot fly alone on routes withconnecting flights.
“They say it’s a safety issue to let a minor on a connecting flight. But is it fine to leave minor miles away from home without any solution?” Victor’s mother told CTV News.
“It’s ironic that since you’re a juvenile, you can’t fly, but you have to solve the problem yourself,” Dmitry Shmulevich, Victor’s father, said.
United Airline gate agents advised Victor to purchase a ticket with AirCanada, which he did. He arrived home via an AirCanada flight nearly 20 hours after the conflict began.
“For me, what’s most concerning is that (United) didn’t actually try to assist us,” Victor told CTV News. “They said, ‘Sorry, you’ve got to deal with this by yourself. We can’t do anything.’”
A United Airlines spokesperson issued a statement saying the airline is “looking into the booking process further to determine how this passenger was able to purchase a ticket for a flight that was not part of (its) unaccompanied minor program.”