PUEBLO, Colo. (WHDH) — A woman who was flying to see her dying mother one last time says United Airlines removed her from the flight just minutes before takeoff.
According to the New York Times, Carrol Amrich was flying from Colorado to Minnesota to see her mother in the hospital before she died. However, right before the plane took off and while Amrich was still in her seat, flight attendants told her to leave the plane because her ticket had been cancelled.
Amrich begged them to let her stay on the plane, telling them she needed to get to her destination so she could say goodbye to her mother, but says agents told her the ticket had been refunded and that “nobody flies for free.”
Amrich’s landlord, Ines Prelas, had originally purchased a different plane ticket for her through a travel agency, Traveler Help Desk, since Amrich did not have the funds for a last-minute flight at the time. But when it was discovered that Amrich’s mother wasn’t expected to make it through the night, Prelas called United directly and switched the ticket for an earlier flight.
Before making the switch, Prelas told the Times that she confirmed with the United agent that the change could be made through them, even though she had initially booked through a third party. She said the United customer service representative assured her they could make the changes directly.
Amrich said she had no reason to believe there was an issue with her ticket, since it had been checked at security and scanned as she boarded the plane.
A customer service supervisor for Traveler Help Desk explained why the ticket had been cancelled, saying it was done for Amrich’s protection. When Prelas contacted United to change Amrich’s flight, Traveler Help Desk did not know who had requested the change, so the transaction was marked as fraudulent, which then rendered the ticket cancelled in the system.
When Amrich called her landlord sobbing after she was removed from the flight, Prelas said she spoke with the gate agent and offered to pay for another ticket. The agent told her Amrich was not allowed back on the plane. United Airlines told the Times that the flight had already taken off by that point.
Amrich then attempted to make the 1,000 mile drive to see her mother, but ultimately, she was too late. Her mother passed away before she could say goodbye.
“I cried the whole way from Pueblo,” Amrich said told the New York Times two days after her mother died. “I’ve been awake for two days. I haven’t had anything to eat in two days.”
“I drove 1,000 miles, and she was gone before I got here,” she continued. “I never stopped to rest. I went straight through. And she was gone.”
Prelas said the next day, a woman from United called her, asking where they could send flowers.
“What are the flowers going to do?” she recalled saying. “You took away from her that she might have been able to see her mother alive. If I’d have been at that gate, I would have done everything in my power to get her back on that plane.”
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