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Airline mix-up lands elderly RDU-bound United passenger in Denver

An airline mix-up landed an elderly woman across the country while relatives were waiting for her at Raleigh-Durham International Airport.

Posted Updated

By
Gina Benitez
, WRAL anchor/reporter
RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. — An airline mix-up landed an elderly woman across the country while relatives were waiting for her at Raleigh-Durham International Airport.

Mikki Paradis' said her mother-in-law was supposed to land at RDU on a United Airlines flight around 6 p.m. Tuesday, but the 80-year-old landed in Denver after boarding the wrong plane.

"How is it possible that a woman got on a plane that she did not have a boarding pass for and is now in another state?” Paradis said.

Maria Larios’s family had arranged for special assistance from the airline because she is elderly, partially blind and doesn't speak English.

Larios was coming from El Salvador to be with her daughter who is going to have brain surgery. During her layover in Houston, she somehow boarded the wrong plane.

Paradis said her mother-in-law had her boarding passes switched. So a different woman was sent to RDU, and Larios flew to Denver.

"She cannot read or write even in her own language. She can't speak English at all. So when you hand her a boarding pass, she's trusting that it's the right boarding pass,” Paradis said.

Eventually, Larios was placed on another flight and reached RDU around midnight.

Paradis said she understands mistakes happen, but she's most upset with the airline’s handling of the situation.

"They were like, 'Oh yeah. We made a mistake, and she was given the wrong boarding pass and so she's in Denver. But it's not a big deal. We've already got her on a flight to Raleigh, and we gave her a meal voucher,’" Paradis said.

WRAL reached out to United Airlines and was issued a statement apologizing to the family.

The statement also read: "Our customer care team is in contact with her family to ensure we make this right. We are also investigating this incident internally to better understand what happened so that we can prevent this from happening again."

But Paradis is still frustrated by their casual reaction to the complaint.

"You lost a person, and the whole time they were treating me like they lost my luggage,” Paradis said.

United Airlines issues a refund and a travel certificate.

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 Credits

Gina Benitez, Reporter
Mark Stebnicki, Photographer
Hannah Webster, Web Editor

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