American Airlines will reexamine procedures for how it deals with passengers traveling in wheelchairs following an incident in which a 67-year-old woman was left abandoned at Chicago O’Hare International Airport after her flight was canceled.
Olimpia Warsaw was traveling back to Detroit on American Airlines last week after attending her ex-husband’s funeral in Chicago. Her son Claude Coltea told CBS Chicago that he escorted his mother to her gate and checked to see that the flight was leaving as scheduled before leaving to catch his own flight home.
But Warsaw’s flight ended up being canceled.
Coltea told CBS Chicago that the airline assigned a porter to take care of his mother. Warsaw was offered a hotel room, but the porter service said it was unable to take her to the hotel. The porter, who is not an airline employee and works for an outside contractor, allegedly said his shift was over and left Warsaw.
Because Warsaw has difficulty communicating, her family said she couldn’t find her own transportation to the hotel.
Family members became concerned when Warsaw did not arrive in Detroit as scheduled. They contacted American and told the television station that the airline could not locate their mother. O’Hare security officers eventually located Warsaw, several hours later.
“The American Airlines team is deeply concerned about what occurred Friday evening at Chicago O’Hare,” the airline said in a statement. “This is not the level of service we aspire to provide to our customers, and we apologize to Ms. Warsaw and her family for letting them down.”
In addition to losing track of Warsaw, the airline also lost her luggage on her flight to Chicago, her family said. As a result, Warsaw was late to the funeral because she had to buy new clothes. The airline said it has spoken to the family numerous times and that it has refunded Warsaw’s ticket.
“We have launched an investigation with our Chicago team and the vendor we utilize that provides wheelchair services at O’Hare,” the airline said. “While this investigation is still underway, we are already developing a process with our vendor to ensure this does not happen again.”