Sunday, July 21

United Airlines staff forced frail grandma, 94, out of £2,800 Business seat into Economy for 16-hour flight



United Airlines staff forced a frail 94-year-old grandma to leave her £2,800 Business Class seat and sit in discomfort in Economy, her family have claimed.

Paz Orquiza was travelling from Los Angeles back to Melbourne, Australia, after visiting relatives.

Her granddaughter Marianne Santos Aguilar said Mrs Orquiza has a number of disabilities including severe arthritis .

Her relatives had all chipped in to buy her a Business class seat with United in the hope of making the 16-hour journey more comfortable.

But Ms Aguilar claims her grandma was left “in tears” due to her treatment by United staff.

She claimed staff would not allow Mrs Orquiza’s daughter Rose, who was also on the flight in Economy class, to help her with tasks such as reclining her seat or opening her food unless she paid for a Business Class ticket as well.

Neither would staff themselves help the fragile passenger, the family claim.

They claim they were left with no choice but to move Mrs Orquiza out of Business and into Economy so her daughter could assist her, despite having paid for extra comfort.

Reuters According to Ms Aguilar: “My aunt tried to comfort my grandmother, who was in tears, and was horrified to see how much pain she had to endure during this flight.

Upon arrival to Australia, my grandma’s legs had swollen, she suffered from a stiff neck and her whole body ached.

She is still in great distress and pain from this ordeal.

The family have filed a complaint with United and say they were eventually offered £400 in travel vouchers and a refund of £690.

But the family remain unhappy.

Ms Aguilar added: “Our family is heartbroken that this painful plane ride back to Melbourne will be the last memory of our trip for my grandma, and this has ruined an otherwise incredible family reunion.

I want a guarantee that what happened to my grandma will never happen to another disabled or elderly person again, and that we can stand together to stop discrimination towards the disabled and elderly.

It comes as the company has come under intense scrutiny for the treatment of a doctor who was physically dragged off an ‘overbooked’ flight.

Dr David Dao, 69, had refused to leave his seat after being told he had been bumped because United staff needed it.

Airport security agents were eventually called and passengers watched in horror as Mr Dao was ripped out of his chair and down the aisle by his arms.