Alaska Airlines apologizes after family claims 13-year-old was left unattended on journey to Spokane

SAN FRANCISCO - Alaska Airlines is apologizing to a family after a father received a phone call from a stranger, saying his 13-year-old daughter was crying and alone in a San Francisco airport. 

According to ABC affiliate WTVD, the stranger said he saw the child crying and asked how he could help. The girl gave her parents number, which he dialed.

After speaking with the Davilas, the stranger escorted the girl to the Alaska Airlines service counter. 

The Davilas said they paid an unaccompanied minor fee for their daughter to travel alone from Raleigh-Durham International Airport in North Carolina to Spokane, with a layover in San Francisco.

The fee is supposed to guarantee an airline representative will escort the child to and from their destination.  

In a statement to ABC, Alaska Airlines said: 

"Caring for a child flying alone, without a guardian, is our top priority. We view them as the most precious cargo. Our investigation, which includes specific records that tracked the movement of our young guest, indicates employees did meet her when her flight arrived and escorted her to our Service Center at San Francisco International Airport." 

"Our guest was asked to wait with employees at the Service Center, as her connecting flight to Seattle was delayed for 1.3 hours due to a mechanical issue. While we had tabs on our young guest the entire time, we understand that she may have felt unsupervised in the crowded area and for that we are deeply sorry. We also think we could have done a better job communicating with her. Given her experience, we are carefully evaluating our chain of custody procedures for unaccompanied minors making connections through SFO and will strengthen processes to make sure our young guests feel safe and attended to at all times while they are in our care."

The airline said it is refunding the $75 unaccompanied-minor fee.