Carrol Amirch sat in her seat on a United Airlines plane from Colorado to Minnesota, assuming she would get to see her mother before her death. She was told her ticket was cancelled, even after buckling in and did not make it before her mother took her last breath.
On Jan. 16, Amrich heard that her mother, Dixie J. Hanson, was hospitalized. She could not afford a plane ticket, but her landlord, Ines Prelas, offered to help. Prelas bought a ticket using Traveler Help Desk, since it was the cheapest option, reports The New York Times.
Amrich, who lives in Pueblo, Colorado, got a ticket to fly out from Colorado Springs the next day. After booking the ticket, she learned that Hanson was in heart failure. Prelas called United, which switched Amrich's ticket to a flight that would go to Denver, then on to Minneapolis.
Prelus rushed Amrich to the airport, which was an hour from Pueblo. Amrich got the boarding pass scanned, and there appeared to be no problem.
But then the gate agent pulled her off the flight. The ticket was refunded and Amrich was told "nobody flies for free." In the airport, Amrich called Prelas, who offered to pay for the ticket to get her on the plane. However, United told the Times that the plane was already in the air.
Amrich decided to drive to Minnesota that night.
"I drove 1,000 miles, and she was gone before I got here," she told the Times. "I never stopped to rest. I went straight through. And she was gone."
While she was driving, her cellphone rang. Her sister called to say their mother was dead.
"I cried the whole way from Pueblo," Amrich told the Times. "I've been awake for two days. I haven't had anything to eat in two days."
Carolyn Gallant, a customer service supervisor at Traveler Help Desk, told the Times Amrich's ticket was voided after they saw a change made to the reservation. Gallant said they tried to contact Amrich before they cancelled the ticket, but Prelas said they did not hear from them. Prelas said United told them it was fine to change the reservation through them.
"We had no way of knowing this was a change by Ms. Amrich directly with the carrier. We voided the ticket to protect Ms. Amrich," Gallant said, explaining that if Prelas changed the ticket through them, there wouldn't have been a problem.0comments
"I am just so sorry for Ms. Amrich's loss," Gallant told the Times. "It is tragic. I understand it was unfortunate the ticket ended up voided. Had she contacted us directly to make the change, this all would have been avoided."
Amrich's mother, Diane Hanson, died at Mayo Clinic Hospital, St. Marys Campus-Rochester, according to her obituary. She is survived by nine children, 14 grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren. Her funeral was on Monday.