Maria Larios was supposed to meet her family at the Raleigh Durham airport on Tuesday night. Instead, the eighty year old, who is partially blind and speaks no English, found herself in Denver after boarding the wrong United flight.
“How is it possible that a woman got on a plane that she did not have a boarding pass for and is now in another state?” her daughter-in-law Mikki Paradis said to local news outlet WRAL, which first reported the incident.
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“They were like, ‘Oh yeah. We made a mistake, and she was given the wrong boarding pass and so she’s in Denver. But it’s not a big deal,” she continued.
According to Paradis, after Larios didn’t arrive at 6pm as planned, she was informed that after the mix-up was discovered, her elderly relative had been placed on a new flight to Raleigh and given a meal voucher for her troubles.
She adds,”You lost a person, and the whole time they were treating me like they lost my luggage.”
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Larios was traveling from her native El Salvador to North Carolina to be with her daughter who was undergoing brain surgery. During a stopover in Houston, she boarded the incorrect flight, despite Paradis having arranged for special assistance for her.
“She cannot read or write even in her own language. She can’t speak English at all. So when you hand her a boarding pass, she’s trusting that it’s the right boarding pass,” Paradis said.
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United apologized for the mistake and put Larios on a flight that brought her to the correct destination around midnight the same day. They have since issued a refund and travel certificate.
The airline’s statement issued following the incident promised, “Our customer care team is in contact with her family to ensure we make this right. We are also investigating this incident internally to better understand what happened so that we can prevent this from happening again.”