America Airlines abandoned my 92 year old mother and my 96 year old aunt

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May 29, 2018
I am so furious with American Airlines right now about my mother's trip because what I did not want to happen did happen and American Airlines told me not to worry.

My cousin took my 92 year old mother and my 96 year old aunt to the Harrisburg Airport on the morning of 5-22-18. My cousin asked the American Airline ticket agent when they checked in for a gate pass and the ticket agent refused her request.

About 20 minutes later a man showed up with 2 wheel chairs and took them to the gate. That was it and he took them to the gate and LEFT them. When it can time to board the plane my 92 year old mother and my 96 year old aunt had to walk down 2 flights of stairs to get to the plane. Are you kidding me, the person that took them to the gate should of put them on an elevator and not made them walk down 2 flights of stairs. YOU KNOW MY MOTHER IS BLIND IN ONE EYE. Guess American Airlines does comply with the American Disabilities Act (ADA) or any other federal regulation that American Airlines violated.

When they landed in Philly they were met at the gate with the wheel chair assist person who took them to the next gate to board their connection. Once that person took my 92 year old mother and my 96 year old aunt to the Philly gate they were abandoned and left there all alone. While they were sitting there all alone they noticed that there was no one at the gate and it was boarding time. Another passenger that was reading a newspaper who was waiting for a flight to D.C. told my mother that the gate had been change but did not know what the new gate was. Now my mother and my aunt who were all alone and now they are in a panic mode. They had to seek assistance my telling anyone that would listen PLEASE HELP ME. After about 20 minutes of trying to get HELP they were directed to the correct gate. NOT BY WHEEL CHAIR ASSIST but they had to walk to the new Philly gate. They found the gate and were shuffled into their seats. What the hell is going on here with American Airlines.

NOW, my wife and I went to the ticket counter in Orlando and asked for 2 gates passes for my wife and I to the gate and meet my mother and my aunt. The ticket agent printed both our gate passes and said the plane would land at 10 minutes to the hour (12:50 PM) and said the gate was number 25. We proceeded through TSA security and went to gate 25. At 1:10 PM we noticed that there was no plane at the gate. My wife went up to the American Airlines representative and asked how long the plane would be delayed and that person said that they had no idea of any Philly flights. Just as this was happening my aunt called me from her cell phone CRYING and asking where I was because they were all alone waiting for us. She told me they were at gate 56 NOT 25 like we were told. So much for American Airlines wheel chair assist for people with disabilities. I told my aunt to stay there and we would be on our way. Now we have to go back out to through security and go through the TSA security all over again. When we got to gate 56 my 92 year old mother and my 96 year old aunt were STANDING and leaning on a wall crying saying that no one met them at the gate with a wheel chair and they had been standing there for 45 minutes until we arrived. I then had to take my mother and my aunt over to some open seats and calm them down and get them to stop crying. It then took another 15 minutes to locate 2 wheel chairs so my wife and I could take my mother and aunt to baggage claim then to where we parked our car.

I went over this issue with my travel agent who confirmed with me that she had spoked to American Airlines and assured me that American Airlines would take care of my mother and aunt. We went over this 10 times in the last few weeks and I wanted to make sure that my mother and my aunt would not be abandoned, left alone and would have wheel chair assist and you reassured me each and every time that would be the case. WELL THAT WASN'T EVEN CLOSE TO THE CASE AND WHAT I WAS PROMISED ME. There is NO EXCUSE for this.

On 5-24-18, two (2) days later an American Airlines representative contacts me about this incident and that call was a waste of time. The short of that conversation was we are sorry, it should of never happened, we will investigate and on the return trip home to make sure your mother and aunt get wheel chairs when the plane lands in Charlotte tell them to tell the flight attendant on their plane that they are refusing to leave the plane until a wheel chair shows up. So now American Airlines wants my mother and aunt to refuse to leave an aircraft which is a federal offense. American Airlines just doesn’t get it and have not taken any responsibility for violating the American Disabilities Act double on my mother and aunt.

Neil Maley

Staff Member
Dec 27, 2014
New York
If the travel agent added the information that they needed wheelchair to their tickets, the airports are at fault for what they went through.

I fly almost monthly and have never seen wheelchair clients abandoned at a gate with no one to put them on the plane not have I ever seen wheelchair passengers not picked up on arrival.

I suggest you appeal to the Executives at AA.

We have company contacts on top of our page;

Read the information on the cover page about exactly how to write and then start your campaign.

You also need to rewrite your letter and state facts only. Use a bullet firm and remove all emotion from your letter. Facts only.

The letter is too long and won’t be read without significant revision.

One thing I want to mention is that when you are sitting at a gate waiting for an arrival, you should always check the boards to make sure there hasn’t been a gate change.
Jul 13, 2016
I have had to use a wheelchair on two occasions, and I was left at the gate, since I was able to walk down the jet way.

Another time, at PHX, my wheelchair did not arrive and I had to have a courtesy cart called and I barely made my connection.

Unfortunately, foul-ups happen. It is horrible how many issues arose on this trip!

In the GDS, there are multiple wheelchair codes. In this case, the TA should have used the one that indicates the passengers need help beyond the gate WCHS. Sounds like the TA use the general WCHR.

GF3378, why were your mother and aunt standing at the gate in Orlando? Were there no seats there at the gate?
Likes: Neil Maley


Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
San Francisco
I too would like to know why they were not seated at the gate in Orlando.

The main issue seems to be whether they are ambulatory or not. If they can walk independently, a chair would be used to deliver and pick them up from the gates. If they are not ambulatory, that is a far more severe situation and they needed personal assistance boarding. When the tix agent denied your cousin a pass, s/he should have escalated to a supervisor. Flights with connections are hard on older people with mobility problems. As you noted, counting on airline and airport personnel to take care of such fragile, elderly people is quite a risk. I'm so sorry this happened to them.
Likes: Neil Maley