NEW YORK - A Manhattan mom arrived at an airport last month to pick up her 5-year-old — who was nowhere to be found.

Her son Anthony Martinez Mercado was supposed to be placed on a flight from the Dominican Republic to John F. Kennedy International Airport but accidentally wound up in Boston.

JetBlue Airlines mixed up Anthony and another child, and the mistake went unnoticed for several hours.

"Upon learning of the error, our teams in JFK and Boston immediately took steps to assist the children in reaching their correct destinations," the airline said in a statement. "While the children were always under the care and supervision of JetBlue crewmembers, we realize this situation was distressing for the families."

To minimize the risk of such incidents, officials say parents whose children are flying alone should schedule direct flights running early in the day, because they're less likely to be delayed.

They also say parents should acclimate their children to the airport before the trip because airline workers will not provide constant supervision or entertainment during the flight.

Additionally, officials say parents should get a gate pass to make sure the child gets to the gate safely. If a parent thinks their child is lost, they should contact a uniformed airline employee or police officer.