My 14-year-old was left stranded at the airport for 19 hours by herself – and we've been left £1,650 out of pocket | The Sun

A TEENAGER was left stranded in an airport alone for 19 hours after her flight was cancelled – and her family were forced to fork out $2,000 (£1,650) to get to her.

The 14-year-old was meant to be flying from New York to Florida to spend Christmas with her father, but ended up stranded in the airport by herself.

Penelope Meyer got caught at Baltimore-Washington International Airport when Southwest grounded thousands of flights due to problems with their scheduling software.

The problem was also made worse by winter storms, leaving Penelope on her own half-way through her journey.

Her father Greg said that he had contacted the airline, in order to get staff to look after her and provide her with some assistance.

However, staff sent her to a series of different departure gates amid a flurry of delays and cancellations, without offering her so much as a voucher for food and drink.

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He told Insider: "What was really amazing was the fact that she was stuck there in Baltimore for so long, and had no help from anybody.

"This sort of thing just shouldn't happen. It's crazy, you know — it just shouldn't happen in that way."

After becoming increasingly concerned for their daughter, Penelope's mum made the four-hour drive from Long Island to Baltimore, while Greg booked a flight there as well.

After Greg's flight finally arrived following another delay, the three ended up spending Christmas day together in a hotel.

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After booking another flight to Florida from Washington Dulles airport, the family had spent more than £1,650 altogether to sort out the problem.

Greg added: "I don't necessarily think they even know about these sorts of possibilities. Like, it may not have even crossed their minds that there are juveniles stuck by themselves for the holidays."

A spokesperson for Southwest Airlines apologised and said they were currently in the process of reimbursing the costs the family incurred.

They said: "We are disheartened to learn of the family's experience, as well as all those impacted by our recent operational disruption over the holidays.

"Of course, we know that the refunds and reimbursements do not make up for the massive inconvenience and stress they faced getting Penelope home, and for that we are truly sorry."

Penelope was not the only one caught up in the chaos of Southwest's cancellations.

Many people faced problems in December the airline canceled over 10,000 flights, according to Flight Aware.

While the airline mostly blamed it on the severe winter weather that hit the mid-west, technical issues and staff shortages also played a role.

The system used to inform the crew of when they were working buckled under the number of changes made due to the adverse weather.

Crews rely on phone systems to find out which flight they are assigned to, and many waited for hours for instructions but hit limits on how many hours they could work without rest.

This problem was one that union leaders reported and executives acknowledged.

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Meanwhile, this is how you can claim compensation if your flight has been cancelled.

You can also check today's live departures boards for Heathrow, Gatwick and London City airports by following these links.

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