Senior left in the rain by US Airways attendant

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  • US Airways was under fire after leaving an 87-year-old disabled lady on a lift in the rain

    US Airways was under fire after leaving an 87-year-old disabled lady on a lift in the rain


An 87-year-old resident was reduced to tears after US Airways left her on a wheelchair lift in the rain.

Sylvia Smith said she did not think the company intentionally left her mother in the rain but that the incident highlighted that service providers need to be more compassionate when dealing with seniors.

Ms Smith arrived at the airport with her mother Mary Darrell on August 7 to catch a US Airways to Philadelphia.

Her mother is a stroke victim and requires wheelchair assistance. A US Airways representative helped them into the airport, where she said the service they received at check-in was excellent.

However, when they began to board things went wrong. “After waiting in the departure lounge, attendants came to take my mother and another lady in wheelchairs to the aircraft,” she said.

“As both attendants were about to leave the building on the lower level a light rain shower started, I asked the attendant if he had umbrellas and he informed me that he did not.”

Her mother was then put onto a lift, which was supposed to raise her to the airplane.

“At this time he realised that the lift operator was not there, the rain began to come harder, he left my mother in the rain to look around for the operator,” Ms Smith said. “During this time the other attendant with the second lady motioned for me and my little grandson to come onto the aircraft, as we approached the bottom of the stairs of the aircraft in the rain, he motioned for us to go back to the building as the aircraft was not ready.

“In going back to the building I saw my mother still sitting on the lift in the rain waiting for the lift operator, who returned a few minutes later.”

Ms Smith said she knew the flight attendant did not intend for her mother to be left in the rain, but that it was still unacceptable.

“I do need to let management know that in circumstances like these, elders become very sensitive and feel that they are a burden to others, consequently once sitting on the aircraft my mother broke down and cried,” she said.

She added that she was not trying to criticise the company but ensure it was aware it needed to be “more sensitive when dealing with the older generation”.

This newspaper contacted the international press office of US Airways to inform them of Ms Smith's concerns.

They did not respond but Ms Smith said they have contacted her and will be sending a written apology to her mother.

Last week John Ward, of Baltimore, described how US Airways staff forgot to collect him and his wife, Francis, who was in a wheelchair, at the departures gate for their Philadelphia-bound flight on December 28.

A spokesman apologised for the incident and said the Wards were put in first class the next day.

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Published Jan 10, 2011 at 8:47 am (Updated Jan 10, 2011 at 8:45 am)

Senior left in the rain by US Airways attendant

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