Ms. Warsaw, a 67-year-old and wheel-chair-bound passenger, was left overnight after her flight got canceled and the porter assigned to accompany her left at the end of his shift.
Nobody likes working overtime, but sometimes it’s better to do so than to clock out as soon as you’re allowed. But apparently, this is not the work ethic promoted at American Airlines, where an employee left an infirm pensioner abandoned and alone overnight because his shift had ended.
67-year-old Olimpia Warsaw suffers from both diabetes and Parkinson’s disease, making it difficult for her to travel alone or communicate with others. For these reasons, Warsaw requires a wheelchair, as well as someone to push it and help her with her various medications.
Having flown from Detroit to Chicago O’Hare to attend the funeral of her ex-husband, Warsaw’s trip was already off to a rocky start when the airline lost her luggage. This meant she had to track down new clothes to wear to the funeral, forcing her to arrive late at the service.
But Warsaw’s troubles were far from over. As she had no family members to accompany her on the flight home, the plan was for her son Claude to drop her off at O’Hare, where a porter assigned by the airline would take her to the plane, and family back in Michigan would collect her at the other end.
After bringing her directly to the gate, an airline employee assured Claude “We’ll take good care of your mom”, so he went to catch his own flight. But soon after he left, Olimpia was told that her flight was canceled, and she would not be able to fly out until the following day.
While the airline alone may not have been to blame for the cancellation, they alone were to blame for what followed after. The assigned porter took Warsaw past security and back to the front of the airport, where she was offered a hotel room for the night. But she was then told that airline staff could not bring her there, and she would have to arrange her own transport.
At this point, the porter told Warsaw that he didn’t know how else he could help, and since his shift was over, he would be heading home. Warsaw was now left alone in the airport, with no help from airline or airport officials forthcoming. At one point, she had to request the help of another passenger to go to the bathroom.
Since the flight should have only taken about an hour, Warsaw’s relatives in Detroit soon realized that she had not arrived. But when they called American Airlines, the carrier had no idea where the pensioner was. It ultimately took them several hours to locate her, still alone in her wheelchair, dressed in her funeral attire.
“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. Not one person did that” Claude told CBS.
In response to the incident, American Airlines apologized to the family, giving them a full refund, and launching an internal investigation, actions the family say they appreciate.