Elderly Woman In Wheelchair Stranded In Airport For 11 Hours

Alice Vaticano, 85, says an airport employee just left her in the middle of the airport. She waited 11 hours for someone to find her.
Posted at 1:33 PM, Aug 28, 2014

​Southwest Airlines is sort of apologizing after it left an 85-year-old woman in a wheelchair in the Newark Liberty International Airport for 11 hours.

ALICE VATICANO VIA KCNC: "I was just sitting all day in a wheelchair. … He pushed me there and left me. … I didn't even know where I was."

KCNC says Alice Vaticano was visiting her daughter on the East Coast. When it was time to go visit family in Denver, her daughter arranged with the airline to have a skycap wheel her mother directly to her gate, since the daughter wasn't allowed past security.

But Vaticano says a skycap just wheeled her somewhere in the airport and went on his way. She didn't have anything to eat during that time and ended up missing her flight.

In fact, it seems Southwest didn't even realize Vaticano wasn't on board until, according to New York Daily News, her daughter in Denver called, worried because her mother didn't arrive.

The airline then got Vaticano on another flight to Denver with a stop in Chicago. USA Today obtained a statement from the airline which said, in part: 

"A processing error in that check-in process did not alert our Employees at the gate to her special need (wheelchair) in boarding the aircraft."

And the Daily Mail says a spokesperson told the outlet the skycap was "counseled" about the process for customers who have special needs. 

As a writer for Forbes pointed out, that's "not-quite-an-apology." He also wonders why nobody in the airport bothered to help Vaticano, saying, "I see it as the fault of just about every human being being employed by all of the intersecting (and not quite interlocking) entities that work in an airport."

Vaticano eventually arrived in Denver, but there's also a dangerous side to this story: Vaticano is diabetic, yet as KCNC reports, she didn't eat for 11 hours.

Diabetic Living says when a person with diabetes misses meals, this can cause the person's blood sugar to increase.

And the Mayo Clinic reminds us that a person with any type of diabetes already has high blood sugar.

Thankfully, there were no reports of Vaticano needing medical assistance when she was finally located in the New Jersey airport. Southwest did end up giving her two vouchers for future travel as an apology.