Disabled metro Detroit woman speaks about being lost by airline

Posted at 6:14 PM, Dec 03, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-04 13:42:16-05

What would you do if it was your mom?  Family members say a wheelchair-bound woman found herself stranded, forgotten, and unable to move at an abandoned airport gate after her flight got canceled.

“I was scared to death, and I don’t get scared of anything,” said Olympia Warsaw of Van Buren Township.

Warsaw is a tough woman who has survived a lot, including a stroke, the diagnosis of Parkinson’s, and diabetes.  

She thought it was terrible when she traveled out of town to go to her ex-husband’s funeral and the airline lost her luggage. Then on the way home, they lost her.

“Here I am all by myself. Nobody would bother to help me,” said Warsaw.

Here is what she says happened: A porter helped get to her gate by wheelchair in Chicago so she could fly home to Detroit.  Then her flight was canceled.   She asked for help and was told she could have a free hotel room.  She tried to explain she wasn’t physically able to get there.

“It is hard for me to move,” said Warsaw.

She says she assumes no one understood because her disability impacts her speech.

“By this time everybody left, so I was there all by myself,” said Warsaw.

"This shouldn’t happen to anyone ever again,” said Ronald Warsaw, her husband.

Ronald says he and other family members started making phone calls when they realized her flight was canceled.  It took hours and hours for American Airlines to find his wife at the gate.

He says he is grateful she survived without insulin, all alone.

American Airlines released a statement saying:

The American Airlines team is deeply concerned about what occurred Friday evening at Chicago O’Hare. This is not the level of service we aspire to provide to our customers, and we apologize to Ms. Warsaw and her family for letting them down.

We have launched an investigation with our Chicago team and the vendor we utilize that provides wheelchair services at O’Hare. While this investigation is still underway, we are already developing a process with our vendor to ensure this does not happen again.

Our customer relations team has spoken with the family multiple times, and other team members met with the family in Chicago and Detroit on Saturday. American has also refunded the ticket.

“I hope they change everything,” said Warsaw.