It was JetBlue’s plane stupidity that got a Manhattan boy lost.

A 5-year-old returning home alone from a family visit in the Dominican Republic was placed on the wrong flight — and ended up 214 miles away in Boston while his panic-stricken mom waited at Kennedy Airport.

Maribel Martinez said she lost her mind while it took more than three hours to locate her son, Andy Martinez Mercado.

“I thought he was kidnapped,” Martinez, 38, told the Daily News. “I thought I would never see him again.”

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Clueless JetBlue staffers, meanwhile, had presented a different 5-year-old boy to Martinez they thought was her son.

“No, this is not my child,” the shocked mom recalled telling JetBlue employees.

It turns out that little boy — who was carrying Andy’s passport at the time — was supposed to be on the flight to Boston, and he was mistakenly placed on the plane to New York City.

Martinez has now retained high-powered lawyer Sanford Rubenstein to take legal action against JetBlue for their negligence, which caused her family so much emotional distress this summer.

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“Any parent can understand the terrifying fear a mother goes through knowing that her child is missing,” Rubenstein said. “This never should have happened and the JetBlue employees should be ashamed of themselves.”

Andy’s trip started innocently enough on July 28 — flying with his mom to the Dominican Republic for vacation. Martinez returned to New York after a week, leaving Andy with relatives. She purchased a ticket for him to return on Aug. 17, and paid an extra $100 fee for a JetBlue representative to escort him onto the plane.

Andy’s relatives even recorded a video at Cibao International Airport in Santiago of the boy — seen wearing a backpack and baseball cap — passing through the gate with other kids.

The flight Andy was supposed to be on arrived at JFK Airport shortly before 8 a.m. on Aug. 17.

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In regards to booking a seat for an unaccompanied minor, JetBlue says on its website: “Photo identification is required for both parties who will be dropping off and picking up the child. The child will not be accepted or released without the guardian’s photo ID. . . . Additionally, it’s important for the person dropping off the child that they give a JetBlue airport crew member their phone number before leaving the airport so that we can contact them in the event of a gate return.”

Despite the family doing all the right things, Andy wasn’t on the JFK-bound plane. The unidentified boy they thought was her son was questioned by Port Authority police in New York, while JetBlue tried to find out what happened to Andy.

“I was freaking out,” Martinez recalled. “I didn’t know if he was alive. I still haven’t stopped crying.”

Martinez did not know the identity of the other boy presented to her. He was safely returned to Boston, the airline says.

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Martinez, who lives in Hamilton Heights, called her relatives in the Dominican Republic who said nothing unusual had occurred at the airport — and that they even waited there 30 minutes after the flight left for New York just to make sure he’d taken off.

When JetBlue finally tracked down Andy in Boston, Martinez was put on the phone with him.

“ ‘Mami, they put me on another plane,’ ” she recalled Andy telling her.

The boy was placed on the next flight to Kennedy Airport that same day to be reunited with his mom.

A JetBlue spokeswoman said in a statement Wednesday: “Two unaccompanied children of the same age traveling separately from Santiago, Dominican Republic, one to New York JFK and one to Boston — each boarded a flight to the incorrect destination. Upon learning of the error, our teams in JFK and Boston immediately took steps to assist the children in reaching their correct destinations. While the children were always under the care and supervision of JetBlue crew members, we realize this situation was distressing for their families.”

Andy Martinez Mercado’s family took photos of the boy as he prepared to board a plane out of the Dominican Republic.
Andy Martinez Mercado’s family took photos of the boy as he prepared to board a plane out of the Dominican Republic. (COURTESY MARTINEZ FAMILY)
But Martinez said she has never received an apology or explanation for how the mixup occurred — noting that Andy was wearing a wristband with his name on it.

JetBlue refunded her $475 for the flight and also gave the family $2,100 in credit for future flights.

They shouldn’t have bothered because Martinez says they will never use JetBlue again.

After the airport nightmare, Andy went to the D.R. with his father, Rafael, and they flew with Delta Airlines. They plan to return before he starts kindergarten next week.

The JetBlue spokeswoman said the incident is being reviewed “with our leadership and Santiago airport team” to prevent it happening again.


  1. Ppl be looking for any ole reason to come up
    On some money before she glad the son located n alright ! Bout she a sue woman plz sit down there was no Harm here.. A big mistake yes ! I believe the inflight team working that day or the flight attendant who was incharge should be penalized but Weh Sue ago????????

  2. Sorry, but no way would I put my five year old on a plane alone, this is not even the worst that could happen. I always marvel at the amount of faith ppl put into other human beings. Lady just be happy your son and you are reunited.

    1. Are you a parent?
      Ok, picture this scenario…… mom juss get a likkle work/not eligible for leave/nuh have nuh papers etc., school give holiday…. all her family back home, so there’s no one to stay with little Johnny. Safest and best thing to do is send him home to granny.

      JetBlue as well as most if not all airlines provides a service at a cost……

      Are you then saying that if school provides a bussing system, I should not put my faith in the driver, or the school personnel for that matter?

      Thank God dem reunite yes, but use out dem backside!!!! Can use imagine di amount ah fretrayshan di family guh chu?!!!!

      Good morning Aunty Met and metters

  3. i cant imagine how devastated i would feel if i could not locate my son for 3 hours

    dont know if he dead or alive, being abused, lost, scared

    Sue lady sue

    they charge you to accompany minors and obviously neglected to do so

  4. For the 1st time my 15 year was placed on a plane to go visit her dad, I prayed and I prayed and stayed in constant contact with the father to make sure he picked her up at the airport and made sure I spoke to her. I walked my daughter up to the boarding location and watched the plane take off, later called her dad and said I want to ensure that you are there where she is suppose to get off and you have her, my daughter was not going to walk back there without me accompanying her and I told him that make sure you pay for me to go back there or do whatever you must do to get me walking her literally were she is boarding at and he did because he knows she wouldn’t of went on that plane now he wants her to come out and we are going to do the same process, I prayed for protection of my child during and after her flight and also on her way back home. but I would be upset and I would have sued them as well once my child was back with me, nothing they could say to me would have justified why she was placed on another plane. they truly do not sit your child up front, they sit them with other passenger and that is not right, they should be upfront with the attendant not mixed in with the people.

  5. Years ago before Jet Blue started to charge for this service. I use ttoho send my son 5 at the time back and fourth several times a year to stay with family and he always sat in front and well taken cared of. Unfortunately, this was not the case here. Sueing is her choice, but my greatest joy would be to have my child back with me again.

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