An elderly wheelchair user was almost hospitalized after she was stranded for more than 14 hours at the Orlando airport earlier this month.
Patty Bough, 85, told Orlando’s Fox 35 that Frontier Airlines employees failed to wheel her to her gate, after her granddaughter, who did not have a boarding pass, was denied entry at security to assist her. After she missed her 8:30 a.m. Saturday flight, Bough remained unattended at the Orlando International Airport, and had a stress-induced panic attack.
“They took my blood pressure and they wanted to take me to the hospital. I said, ‘I think I’m just really, really upset’,” Bough told Fox 35.
“It was a bad, bad, bad, bad day today.”
Bough and her family insisted that she stay at the airport until she found another flight, which they said proved difficult. After Frontier offered to put her on a flight Sunday, her family pushed to get her placed on a Saturday evening flight.
Bough was eventually put on a flight later that evening, but arrived at a different airport that was two hours away from the home of Bough’s daugher, Susie Mages, who was picking her up.
“It just turned into a total nightmare,” Mages told Fox 35. “Now she’s sitting at the airport from 8:30 this morning to 10:30 tonight. Then she’s flying into an airport that’s two hours away from me. We won’t get in until 1 a.m.”
A TSA spokesperson told Fox 35 that it’s up to the discretion of the airline to provide a “gate pass” to allow family members or health care providers without a boarding pass to assist wheelchair users.
According to the Frontier website, flyers seeking extra assistance can select “add special services” while booking their tickets to receive extra guidance.
A Frontier spokesperson told Insider that Bough’s initial reservation did not include a request for wheelchair assistance, noting that it was later added to her updated reservation when the airline was alerted to the need.
“Unfortunately, our service provider did not receive a wheelchair assistance request for Ms. Bough,” the spokesperson said. “Requests should be made in advance. We regret this resulted in a travel disruption. We have rebooked Ms. Bough on a separate reservation as requested.”
Bough is among a growing number of wheelchair users who report being abandoned at the airport. Morgan Jones, a 34-year-old with fibromyalgia and lupus who endured a similar incident this month after a series of flight delays, told Insider’s Hannah Towey that individuals who use wheelchairs are being “abandoned and forgotten” by airport staff.
“I’ve read about mothers with babies stuck on the floor. I’ve read of luggage lost and delays,” Jones told Insider, adding: “But no one has spoken about the vulnerable and ADA passengers’ hell.”
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