American Airlines disputes woman's claim that she was abandoned at O'Hare Airport

CHICAGO (WLS) -- American Airlines is disputing an elderly woman's claim that she was abandoned for many hours at O'Hare Airport on Saturday after her flight was canceled.

Olimpia Warsaw is 67 years old, has Parkinson's disease and uses a wheelchair to get around. She was in town for a funeral and was escorted to her gate for a 10:15 p.m. flight to Detroit, which was canceled while already on the runway. By the time she deplaned and American Airlines gave her a hotel and meal voucher for the night, it was after 11:30 p.m.

"I was scared to death. And I'm usually not scared of anything," Warsaw said.

Her phone was dead and her family said they did not know where she was.

"I dropped my mom off at 9 o'clock. The next time that we found her, it was 1:30 in the morning, and she was alone," said Claude Coltea, Warsaw's son.

Warsaw told her family she was abandoned by the porters at O'Hare.

"We heard from one person she was at the hotel, and from another person that she's with them at O'Hare," Coltea said. "So what's the actual story? Does the porter have the right human being or is she at the hotel and if she's not at the hotel, then how do we get her there and what's going to happen?"

American Airlines disputed Warsaw's version of events on Tuesday, releasing a timeline that they said was put together using phone logs and closed circuit video from inside O'Hare's Terminal 3. They deny that Warsaw was left alone for hours, as she had told her family, but admitted that her attendant did leave her in the terminal's wheelchair waiting area for some time. American Airlines also said Warsaw was seen getting out of her wheelchair twice to go smoke a cigarette.

"There was not a supervisor attending to Ms. Warsaw between 12:30-1:13 a.m. when her family arrived, which is why we have apologized and refunded her ticket," the airline said in a statement. "The situation could have been handled better."
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