Colorado woman removed from flight to see dying mother
A Colorado woman desperate to travel more than a thousand miles to say good bye to her dying mother was removed from a plane in tears after an online travel agency canceled her ticket in the moments ahead of her flight.
When Carrol Amrich learned her mother was hospitalized on Jan. 16, her generous landlord, Ines Prelas, purchased her a United Airlines ticket to Minnesota for $585 through online ticketing company Traveler Help Desk.
She later received word her mother’s condition had worsened, prompting Prelas to pay another $75 so that Amrich could fly standby on an earlier flight and reach her mother in time.
Amrich had no trouble boarding the Minneapolis-bound plane out of the Colorado Springs airport — she stashed her bag and buckled herself in without issue. But a few minutes later, she was approached by a United Agent who told Amrich her ticket had been cancelled.
“I said ‘I’m trying to get home to see my mother. She’s dying,’” Amrich said. “She goes, ‘I can’t help it. You have to have a ticket, no one flies for free. Please disembark.
“I knew at that time I’d never see my mother again.”
Traveler Help Desk blamed the incident on a mix-up rooted in the fact that Amrich changed flights without telling them.
Customer Service Supervisor Carolyn Grant confirmed Traveler Help Desk canceled the ticket because it was unaware Prelas had changed the flight by calling United Directly.
She said they’d been trying to protect Amrich from fraud.
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Amrich begged with United to allow to get back on the plane and Prelas even offered to buy her another ticket.
“I said: ‘Take my credit card. We’ll straighten this out later, but get her on that plane,” the landlord told the New York Times.
The agent declined to let her back onboard, giving no explanation at the time. United told the Times the flight had already departed at that time — a claim Amrich has disputed.
Amrich, rather than wait for a flight in the morning, started the long drive to Minnesota. Several hours in, she learned her mother had died.
United said it refunded all money spent on the tickets and offered its condolences to the family.
Still, Amrich said the airline showed no empathy or compassion for a customer who was clearly in a desperate situation.
“I drove 1,000 miles, and she was gone before I got there,” the distraught daughter said. “I never stopped to rest. I went straight through. And she was gone.”
With News Wire Services