Norfolk woman in wheelchair left abandoned at airport after missing flight


CHARLOTTE, N.C. (FOX 46/WAVY) – Cancellations and delays plagued Charlotte-Douglas Monday evening after a storm swept over the airfield. Inside the terminal were headaches and frustration — which 72-year-old Ouida Sloan of Norfolk experienced first hand.

Sloan’s daughter, Whitnee Carter, said her mother was left unattended after the wheelchair attendant failed to transport her to a connecting gate.

“What specifically happened was my mother landed in Charlotte — she requires wheelchair assistance from gate to gate because she’s a stroke victim and she gets very confused and turned around because her mental capacity has been diminished,” Carter said.

That caused her to miss her American Airlines flight to Norfolk.

“When she got off the plane, the person I guess that aided her with the wheelchair pushed her to the top of the ramp where the gate agent was and left her there. She missed her connection and had to spend the night in the Charlotte airport.”

Sloan was left alone and had nowhere to go as she was unable to walk on her own. Sloan’s daughter says that put her mom in what turned out to be a compromising situation.

“She urinated on herself because she didn’t know where the bathroom was and said it took too long to get there. It’s a travesty our elderly are being treated like this,” Carter said.

Wheelchair travel expert John Morris says a civil rights law may have been broken. His website has a roadmap for people who are differently-abled, to still get out and travel.

“The ACA (Air Carrier Access Act) is the civil rights law that was signed into law in 1986,” Morris says. “It requires equal access to air transportation and requires airlines to provide wheelchair assistance and other forms of assistance throughout the passenger’s journey.”

American Airlines recognized the issue in a statement saying:

“American has reached out to learn more and apologize after learning about Ms. Sloan’s experience while traveling last night. Our mission is to ensure customers of all abilities have a positive travel experience, and in this instance, we fell short. We are working to determine what went wrong and how we can improve our process moving forward.”

Sloan made it back home to Norfolk Tuesday evening.

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