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Icarus Award: A Few Sore Surprises

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Flying off to summer camp? Going for a scenic carriage ride? Making your home a vacation rental? You’re probably in for a surprise this week. Lily J. Kosner shows you how even the simplest journey can turn into a complex failure in this week’s Icarus Award.

Heard of a Cell Phone, Mom and Dad?

The story of United Airlines misplacing a 10-year-old girl has gone viral this week, but we have a different take. Parents Annie and Perry Klebhan sent their daughter, Phoebe, solo from San Francisco to Grand Rapids, Michigan, connecting in Chicago’s O’Hare airport. The problem occurred at the connection, when the unaccompanied minor was left unattended, against airline policy. Phoebe missed her flight and was told by United employees that they were too busy to help or to allow her to phone home. Her parents were eventually alerted to the situation by the summer camp, but got stuck on hold with an overseas call center. Adding insult to injury, they were told that the United rep in Chicago “forgot to show up ” to accompany their daughter to her connecting flight. Phoebe was eventually put on a later flight, where her luggage was lost. There’s no question that United Airlines has egg on their face, but shouldn’t the parents be slightly culpable? They trusted their daughter to fly solo halfway across the country on a connecting flight  and didn’t think to give her a cell phone?  If a kid is old enough to fly solo, they’re old enough to handle a cell phone.

Air Bed and Brothel?

How much do you know when you rent out your home to strangers? Take what happened to two women from Stockholm who rented out their home through Airbnb for four weeks only to come home to a letter from the police that their apartment had become a temporary brothel. Apparently the Stockholm County Police raided the apartment on August 11 and found two call girls in action. Airbnb, which provides hosts with a million-dollar guarantee for damages, sent the women to a hotel and had their home professionally cleaned. Let’s hope they came through with a few new mattresses as well.

Spare Some Change?

Yes, ancillary fees keep growing, but most passengers still expect airlines to pay for fuel. Officials on a rerouted Air France plane ended up asking passengers if they had extra cash since Syrian authorities would not accept the airline’s credit card payment. Air France had stopped flying to Damascus this past March as a result of civil unrest and rocky political relations between the countries, but fighting in Beirut forced the plane to make an unscheduled landing in Syria. At the end of the day, the passengers kept their cash and the airline found a different way to refuel and get back in the air. Passengers spent the night in Cyprus and were able to land in Beirut by Thursday evening.

Assembly Not Required

As a brand, Ikea is best known for DIY furniture that takes hours to build and lasts a few weeks until it breaks. So what will the Ikea hotel chain be known for? Watch out Europe, the world’s largest furniture retailer is planning to build a budget hotel chain throughout the EU. Up first, Berlin in 2014. Travelers will be surprised and perhaps relieved to know that no Ikea furniture will decorate the hotels.

Bye, Bye Buggy

Horse and buggy rides are a New York tradition, but on Thursday, a horse named Oreo decided to buck the tradition and go for a joy ride. With the carriage and operator hooked up, the horse stormed off, hit a few cars with the carriage and then broke loose. Police were eventually able to corral Oreo and return him to his stable, but he will be off the streets until a veterinarian gives the all-clear.

The First Class Slumber Party Poopers won last week’s Icarus Awards. See their competition and all the other travel failures in this week’s Icarus Awards.

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By Lily J. Kosner for

Related Links: My Fox NY, Reuters, Huffington Post, MSNBC, Smart Traveler