Douglas Davila, the girl's father, said his family paid the unaccompanied minor fee to have his daughter escorted by an Alaska Airlines representative to the next flight during her layover.
The girl said she was never escorted, although the family paid the fee, and was left in the airport alone.
Douglas' daughter was flying from Raleigh-Durham International Airport to Spokane, Washington, with a layover in San Francisco.
"It's hard when you hear your son or daughter say, 'I'm by myself in San Francisco,'" said Davila. "My heart was in my throat. I was shaking."
A stranger saw the girl and helped her to an Alaska Airlines desk and a representative called the family.
The airline company apologized and refunded the $75 fee. However, the family said they want a full refund of the cost of the ticket.
Alaska Airlines sent WTVD the following statement:
"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."