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American Airlines: “Sorry About Stranding Your Elderly Relative. Also, We Think You’re Lying”

AA has apologized to the family of a passenger who say that their loved one was left to sit in her wheelchair after her flight from ORD was canceled. However, upon investigating the incident using the airport’s security camera video footage, it says that the woman was picked up by relatives at ORD.

American Airlines has apologized to the family of a passenger who say that their loved one was left to sit overnight in her wheelchair after her flight from Chicago to Detroit was canceled, CBS News reports.

Olimpia Warsaw – who has Parkinson’s disease, diabetes and mobility issues – had flown from Detroit to Chicago for a family funeral earlier this week and was attempting to make her way home when the incident occurred. According to CBS Chicagowhen Warsaw’s flight was canceled from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport (ORD), she was attended to by a porter and offered a hotel room.

Though accommodation had been offered to Warsaw, the outlet states that staff, “weren’t willing to take her [Olimpia] to the hotel, and she couldn’t find her own transportation because she has trouble communicating.”

This is where the accounts of AA and Warsaw’s family diverge. Warsaw’s relatives allege that the porter assigned to her informed her that his shift had finished and that he was unable to offer further assistance. Warsaw’s family allege that she was then left alone all night in her wheelchair.

When Warsaw failed to arrive home in Detroit, they then made contact with AA.

Speaking of his disappointment at the situation with the outlet, Claude Coltea, Warsaw’s son, said, “All we wanted was someone to pause and say ‘you know what, can we just make sure this human being is safe and then we can all go home’.”

On the back of the incident and its initial apology to the family, AA conducted an investigation into what happened to Warsaw in Chicago. According to its review of ORD’s security camera footage, Warsaw was picked up by relatives from a waiting area about 45 minutes after she was placed there by a porter.

The carrier said that it will not presently be releasing the video footage of the incident. AA has also stated that, though the porter involved in the incident is not an employee, they will be making further investigations.

[Photo: Shutterstock]

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8 Comments
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laperk1028 December 14, 2018

For all of you who say AA is not a "caretaker", you obviously have not experienced first-hand horrible customer service involving AA and elderly or disabled customers. They owe each paying passenger great - or at least "good/passable" customer service. Agree that responsibility lies with the passenger's family and this definitely sounds like a highly questionable situation outlined above. ASIDE from this situation though, I have experienced terrible customer service (AA) with their care for my disabled husband, while I was standing right there...... and all they care about is covering themselves. They have denied these occurrences have taken place, although I have corroboration from both employees and other passengers. The list is too long to even document here. I hope AA is vindicated if the security cameras prove the family picked this woman up; however, this does not let AA off the hook from their poor day-to-day care for disabled passengers.(in my experience and opinion).

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arcticflier December 8, 2018

The family attempted a scam and failed to consider airports have security cameras everywhere.

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mvoight December 7, 2018

What is the big deal about her sitting by herself for 45 minutes. The wheelchair pusher is not a caretaker. He called the relatives and someone was on the way to pick her up. She was able to use her walker to go outside to smoke during this period. It is NOT the job of AA to be a caretaker. It is not the job of the wheelchair pusher to babysit people. This is on the family, who even delayed picking going to her when they first got to the airport. If this person had the ability to use a walker to get outside to smoke TWICE, she had the ability to use the same walker to get to the restroom.

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MimiB22 December 7, 2018

They could release a copy of the footage and retain the original. If it exists.

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top987 December 7, 2018

I believe they aren't releasing the footage yet because they probably want to use it when the inevitable lawsuit comes in.