The family of a disabled woman supposedly abandoned in her wheelchair overnight by callous American Airlines officials after a flight was canceled now looks like they were trying to scam the airline with false claims of abusing their mother.
The woman’s plight instantly went viral last weekend after the media claimed that airline workers abandoned a woman to sit unattended in her wheelchair “overnight” when her flight was canceled at Chicago’s O’Hare airport.
The family was “outraged” by what they claimed the airport did to Olimpia Warsaw, 67, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease and diabetes.
Claude Coltea, Warsaw’s son, said when he dropped his mom off, he made sure the flight was still scheduled. Assured that it was, he then left his mother at the airport to await her flight.
“I confirmed with the gate agent that the flight was on time,” Coltea told the media. “Everything was OK. [The gate attendant] said, ‘Yup, all’s fine. We’ll take good care of your mom.'”
But it wasn’t long before the flight ended up being canceled and Coltea claimed that the airline then essentially ignored his mother all night long.
“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,'” Coltea exclaimed. “Not one person did that.”
But after investigating and looking at the airport’s surveillance tapes, it now looks like the family was trying to scam the airline and Olimpia Warsaw was really only left alone for about 45 minutes — not “overnight” — before her family came to pick her up.
After reviewing the surveillance, the airport said the following:
American Airlines noted that Warsaw’s flight was cancelled at 11:20 p.m. local time, and the airline issued passengers vouchers for hotels and meals at 11:36 p.m. The airline added that a porter retrieved Warsaw from the gate area, and phoned relatives. The attendant then dropped Warsaw off at one of the upper levels of the airport at 12:30 a.m.
“Ms. Warsaw was dropped off in the terminal at 12:30 a.m. CT on Dec. 1, and a family member arrived at the airport to pick her up at 1:13 a.m. CT,” American Airlines said in their statement.
Yep. it now looks like the family was just warming up to scam the airlines with a fake lawsuit.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.