Elderly woman ends up flying to wrong destination ... again

Published: Dec. 24, 2013 at 11:28 AM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn
Robert Ortiz and his mother, Maria Nieves
Robert Ortiz and his mother, Maria Nieves

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Most people right now pretty much have the goal of getting home for the holidays to be with family, but one elderly woman has to be wondering if it's meant to be for her, especially after another traveling mishap.

This is the season for family and friends to sit around the fireplace and countdown to Christmas. Instead, one family is trying to figure out how their 85-year-old mother ended up nearly 1,200 miles away from where she was supposed to be.

"She got a call from Southwest Airlines stating that they don't know how it happened, but my mom ended up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and she was supposed to be in Fort Myers, Florida," said Robert Ortiz.

He said his mother, who lives in Indiana, was going to his sister's home in Florida for Christmas. She left the airport in Chicago Sunday headed for Atlanta and should have gone to Fort Myers. Instead, she went from Chicago to Atlanta to Pittsburgh.

"They took her off the plane. They took her to a gate. We do not know what gate they brought her to. (It) was a multi-departure gate where two or three flights take off of at the same time. Or did they just bring her to the wrong gate? And she clearly showed them the index card," Ortiz added.

Because Maria Nieves is 85 years old, her daughter sent her with an index card, which clearly states her name, flight information and where she was supposed to be going. But more importantly, the purpose of the card was to avoid what ended up happening because believe it or not, this is the second time Southwest Airlines has sent Nieves to the wrong destination.

"I can see it happening once but twice to the same person, it's kind of like lightning striking twice in the same place," Ortiz explained.

Nieves was supposed to be in Baton Rouge with her son for Thanksgiving two years ago, but ended up in Florida. Nieves requests wheelchair assistance, meaning a Southwest representative is responsible for taking her gate to gate and assuring her safe arrival at her final destination. Back in 2011, she went from Chicago to Nashville, but Nieves said a representative never showed up to take her to her connecting flight and she ended up in Tampa instead of New Orleans.

Ortiz remembers Southwest Airlines being very apologetic after that first go-round.

"Reassured us that it would never happen again and here we go again," he said.

Nieves was put on another flight from Pittsburgh back to Atlanta to Fort Myers and landed late Sunday night.

While the airline is still trying to figure out some answers, Ortiz said he's happy to hear his mother finally reached her destination. However, he added he is very upset Southwest made him miss Thanksgiving with his mother in 2011 and now there was another mishap just days before Christmas.

"We put our hands in their lives every time we get on a plane and travel with them and they need to be responsible," Ortiz said.

Southwest Airlines emailed the following response:

"We are investigating the situation that involved the customer ending up in the wrong destination," the statement read. "We take these situations very seriously and are trying to get to the bottom of it as quickly as possible."

Copyright 2013 WAFB. All rights reserved.