I'm sitting here with nothing more to do than watch tv ... so I'll share my experiences as an airline passenger rep with you.
This of course was 25 ... 30 years ago.
Airlines have what is known in the industry as an "UM" ... an unaccompanied minor ... kids traveling alone between the ages of 5 and 12.
Twice in those early years I had no choice but to strip a 5 year old down to his socks.
One threw up 1/2 a hamburger and spilled his glass of coke all over himself ...
The other wet himself ...
Both were stuck at the airport due to weather problems and would be with us for hours.
Without a second thought I took each of those boys into our staff bathroom (sink and toilet) and stripped them down to their socks, gave them a sponge bath as best I could, washed their little undies and the tail part of their shirts with hand soap in the sink, and sponged off as best I could their dress pants. I couldn't stand there for hours trying to dry the clothes under the air dryer so i dried them to damp, and hung them up. I put the boys in my clean and ironed 'emergency' uniform shirt from my locker, took them back to our back office where we kept them while waiting, and redressed them when their clothes were dry.
That was standard procedure ... guys cleaned up the boys and women cleaned up the girls.
What were we supposed to do? ... leave the poor kid in his own stench for 4 or 5 hours!
Staff members routinely took little ones home with them if a kid was stuck overnight ... ideally one of us who had kids too.
A little note would be sent home with the child explaining the circumstances ... and that was that!
For one of the boys a basket of fruit was delivered to me at the airport 2 days later with a card from his parents thanking me for being so kind to their son.
DO you think that is still standard procedure ????? ...
...... NO .... !!!!!
Under similar circumstances today we would still do what we could ... but with 2 staff members present ... the kid would NEVER be naked ... and some detailed official paperwork would be filled out to send on to the parents.
If the kid was to be stuck for a long period of time (international flights) he would have been turned over to social services.
Very young children then were more innocent and trusting than now and they never thought anything of how we helped them ... and nor did their parents.
Obviously we never ran into situations like that with older kids ... but a few got into trouble but they were taken into privacy and allowed to deal with the more intimate aspects of their own care ... although on a few occasions one of us did have to do a bit of laundry.
Now I know what's going through your minds ... why didn't we retrieve their baggage and get fresh clothes for them? ... well ... my two were on day flights and didn't have a bag.
People don't seem to understand how time consuming it would be to try and find a particular bag in a fully loaded aircraft ... that means opening the cargo hold and holding up two ramp attendants for a long time.
Things were simpler then, and then as now, there are sure to be sickos among airline staff too.
The only way to keep a child 100% safe is to lock him in a cement room and never take your eyes off the door ... and even then ... the jailer has the key.
When all is said and done we were betrayed.
We just weren't lucky.
Experience is a brutal teacher.