Virgin Kicked 11 Year Old Boy Out Of Seat And The Flight Wasn’t Even Overbooked

It seems only US airlines have gotten the memo not to involuntarily deny boarding to a passenger after they’re already in their seat.

An 11 year old boy was kicked off of Virgin Atlantic’s Shanghai – London Heathrow VS251 flight earlier this month. He had already boarded and was in his seat. And the fight itself wasn’t even oversold.

The family said the boy was left traumatised after the incident. He had already checked in and sat in his seat when he was removed from the flight on 9 July.

The boy had been booked on an ‘unaccompanied minors’ seat and was heading over to summer camp in Britain with a friend.

Copyright: boarding1now / 123RF Stock Photo

Reportedly regulations limit the flight to 8 unaccompanied minors, presumably so that there will be enough crew to monitor them. However Virgin Atlantic,

  • Accepted more than 8 for travel on the July 9 flight
  • Allowed them all to check in

So they booted the last child checked in, this 11 year old boy (and not his traveling companion for the trip to camp).

The family says that “More than 10 staff, including the captain and flight attendants came over and demanded him to get off the plane.”

The boy’s mother reports that he didn’t understand why he was being removed and he thought he must have done something wrong. He cried for hours. Virgin Atlantic says they kicked the boy off “with the customers wellbeing in mind.”

She says airline staff in Shanghai promised “a round-trip ticket for any Virgin Atlantic flight or a €400 gift card” but the compensation never materialized.

What’s more, in addition to failing to deliver compensation they even attempted to cheat the family out of what they were due. The child seems clearly entitled to 600 euros in cash for the involuntarily denied boarding causing him to arrive at his destination more than four hours late while traveling over 3500 kilometers under EU Regulation 261/2004.

Sadly it seems even 11 year olds need to know their rights or airlines will try to take advantage of them.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. 99% of the time, I don’t read these filler posts…but, this one does stink and should be mentioned.

  2. why can’t they live by their own rules?

    their IT should be programmed not to accept more than eight bookings.

    it’s that simple.

    the airlines have taken their over booking flights too far.

  3. So… virgin atlantic decides to follow trends with united, delta and others…. goodluck then…

  4. Are you just trying to be TMZ now? Or the worst parts of 24 hour news networks?

  5. @Gary —>

    1) Yes, it sucks, and thank you for publicizing it.

    2) Given the fact there are multiple airlines with the word “Virgin” as a part of their name — certainly the three best known to readers of this blog are Virgin America, Virgin Atlantic, and Virgin Australia, but there are others — shouldn’t you CLARIFY which one you’re talking about in the headline? I would think so.

  6. Pathetic; sad; frustrating to see how we have devolved in so many decades into barely a version of “Planet of the Apes!”

    Amazing, starting at 11, how I could travel alone, if my father signed a note to the railroad, so I could take in 1960 the Burlington’s “Morning Zephyr” from Chicago-Minneapolis enjoying lunch in the diner; returning on the North Western’s “400” with lunch and dinner in the diner. (The only issue was the diner waiter on the “400” insisted on milk at both meals, instead of ice tea!)

    Once I was 12, the transportation world was mine! Sad how we have changed for the worse!

    Every time a child gets caught up in the BS of airline incompetence, I hope the family has a Dershowitz who will win them a fortune.

  7. While some believe 7 to be a mystical number, these employees (or perhaps their union?) worship 8.

    I wonder if any of them have children of their own.

    That’s all.

  8. So unaccompanied minor tickets are overbooked.
    My first question is, why is the captain involved? Isn’t his job takeoffs and landings, and someone else’s job customer relations? So, if a customer has a baggage or food question, is the captain involved with that also?
    Remember Virgin ______, takeoffs, landings, not D0, not seat assignments, etc., just leave the flying to the pilots, and don’t overbook unaccompanied minors.
    As for this customer, first class travel for him and a copassenger, on this trip and two more. Virgin should forfeit big money for this error.

  9. @Jason Brandt Lewis –>. Pictures confusing for you still? Stop skimping on your meds.

  10. Is eight or nine really that big a deal? So suck it up crew and everybody make the rounds one more time. Eight vs. nine isn’t a law and isn’t really consequential. Thanks for your comment, Raul Provocateur. We had so much more freedom as kids.

  11. This does make me very uncomfortable. I am one of those people that buy UM tickets for my nephew and niece. So far, so good, but articles like this does make me uneasy.

  12. @J.C. —> Does your email contain pictures? OF COURSE once I clicked on the link and read the post I realized it was VS, rather than VX. But in what world does it say that your first (and only) reaction should be to insult and personally attack fellow readers/posters of this — or any — blog/website?

  13. @J.C. —> Does your email contain pictures? OF COURSE once I clicked on the link and read the post I realized it was VS, rather than VX. But rather than UNDERSTAND the context in which my comment was written, your first (and only) reaction is instead to insult and personally attack fellow readers/posters of this — or any — blog/website? In what world is that a coherent, intelligent, and useful response?

  14. Almost as disgusting as Dr. Dao. This is why regulation is needed, because none of the airlines can be trusted to do the right thing.

  15. Wow, people forget how imperfect you are in your day to day workings. No one is perfect, but we do expect honesty and integrity. So the airline screwed up, it happens. Hopefully, they will give some sort of compensation, but for everyone to expect perfection 100% of the time is ludicrous. People need to take a breath and let the process carry out. Have a bad FA, that sucks, but 90% of them are caring and nice people. Why not allow 9 unaccompanied minors instead of 8 (as someone asked), because in today’s ridiculously litigious society, if something happened to just 1 kid on that flight, they’d all sue stating they went over their own limit!!! All the flight attendant/airline mishaps do suck. But thankfully, they happen to just a small percentage of the millions of fliers who have a normal flight experience.

    People need to just take a deep breath and have a Zen moment!!! And no, I have nothing to do with the airline industry or law!!

    Happy flying everyone.

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