December 21, 2000
Web posted at: 1:49 PM EST (1849 GMT)
DENVER, Colorado (AP) -- A 52-year-old woman with multiple sclerosis was stranded at Denver International Airport for more than eight hours because workers failed to properly monitor her, her daughter said.
Judy Bruce was traveling through Denver on her way to Bismarck, North Dakota December 12 when United Express failed twice to put her on a connecting flight and lost track of her for several hours.
"My mother didn't deserve this," daughter Tammy Hohertz said. "I put my trust in these people, and they let us down."
United Airlines and United Express representatives acknowledged mistakes were made, but said Bruce was never in danger.
A security guard who took Bruce to the gate failed to tell the gate agent she was there and the plane left without her, said Doug Horn, vice president for customer service for Air Wisconsin, which operates United Express in Denver.
After the error was noticed, Bruce was booked on the next flight. But while she was waiting for that flight, a guard saw her sitting alone, looking disoriented and took her to Travelers Assistance, a nonprofit service organization.
Volunteers took care of traveler
Petie Horton, assistant director of the group, said volunteers cared for her and eventually realized she had a ticket. They took her back to the gate, but by then she had missed her second flight. Meanwhile, United Express had been looking for her.
She finally got to Bismarck on an evening flight.
Hohertz said she couldn't afford to fly with her mother, who was moving from Indianapolis to a nursing home near her daughter in North Dakota. Bruce had traveled alone before in recent years, and her condition was explained to a travel agent and to airline workers in Indianapolis, Hohertz said.
But Horn said Bruce's family failed to tell the airline how much help she really needed.
"Based on what I know now, Mrs. Bruce should never have been traveling by herself," he said.
Under federal law, if an airline determines a passenger needs an assistant, it must give the assistant a free ticket. Hohertz said she was unaware of that.
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