A member of the United Airlines crew forced an elderly woman with degenerative bone disease and severe arthritis off of the business class seat that she paid and cramped her into an economy seat. Paz Orquiza, 94 years old, flew 16 hours from Los Angeles, CA to Melbourne, Australia while she was treated indifferently by the United Staff.
According to the Daily Mail, Orquiza was booked by her family a business class ticket that cost $3,600 for the sole purpose of flying her with utmost comfort. Rose Benedicto, her daughter, flew in economy class. Her plan was to occasionally visit her mom to help her in eating and chair adjustments.
However, when they boarded the plane, staff refused to let Orquiza’s daughter to go to the economy class and the staff refused to her the elderly woman, according to a Facebook post by her granddaughter, Marianne Santos Aguilar.
Aguilar wrote: “My grandma suffers from severe arthritis and degenerative bone structure in her neck so she spends most of the day lying in bed. Her grandchildren pitched in to buy her a Business Class ticket to ensure a comfortable plane ride for this once in a lifetime trip. During the outbound flight from Melbourne to LA, the flight crew made every effort to ensure her comfort. However, this was not the case on the way back.
“My aunt traveling with her in Economy asked the Business Class flight attendant, Shauna, if my aunt can assist my grandma with simple tasks such as opening her food or reclining her seat, similar to what my aunt helped with on her outbound flight. Shauna said they could not accommodate her request.
“With the hope that my grandma could stay in Business Class, my aunt asked Shauna if she can help my grandma with simple tasks (listed as services they offer to semi-ambulatory customers).
“Without any sympathy or compassion, Shauna said my grandma's only options were to 1) move to Economy with my aunt or 2) take another flight and purchase another Business Class ticket for my aunt. The Air Carrier Access Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in air travel and requires air carriers to accommodate the needs of passengers with disabilities, neither of which was complied with here.”
Since they were offered no help or alternative option in which they could compromise, Orquiza moved to the Economy class and went through 16 hours of pain. She started crying because of how badly she was treated by the crew.
When Orquiza and Benedicto arrived to Australia, the elderly woman’s legs were swollen, suffered from a stiff neck, and her entire body was filled with pain and distress. The whole experience put in great ache that she had to prescribed with a strong painkiller such as Valium to help her with sleep.
Aguilar continued: “Our family is heartbroken that this painful plane ride back to Melbourne will be the last memory of our trip for my grandma, and this has ruined an otherwise incredible family reunion. I want a guarantee that what happened to my grandma will never happen to another disabled or elderly person again, and that we can stand together to stop discrimination towards the disabled and elderly.”
Aguilar gave an update after the airlines company responded to their complaint:
“When we filed our complaint, United claimed their crew's recollection differed (shocking!) and that disability regulations were not broken. They gave my grandma $500 travel certificates which we do not plan to use and are in the process of refunding us $860 even though the original ticket cost $3600.
“Humanity and compassion are lacking with this airline, who only cares about their bottom line. My aunt was told by another passenger that grandma's original seat was given to someone willing to pay for an upgraded seat.”
Aguilar told the Daily Mail that her grandmother had recovered and now in good health. The whole incident happened more than a month ago, amidst controversies regarding leggings and dragging a man down the aisle in an attempt to remove him the seat without offering him adequate compensation.
United Continental had lost almost a billion dollars in two days until they issued an actual apology for what they did.