Airline Sued After Losing Woman.
April 19, 2002 4:29 PM   Subscribe

Airline Sued After Losing Woman. Not the woman's luggage, mind you. The woman.
posted by Ty Webb (13 comments total)
"South said he believes she was abducted by an airport employee." ... to what purpose? Art project?
posted by alexmassie at 4:52 PM on April 19, 2002

Wow. I may have to go on vacation with the wife soon.
posted by bradth27 at 5:05 PM on April 19, 2002

Makes one hesitate to ship kids on their own. The airlines *say* they'll be escorted, but obviously this isn't a sure thing.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:13 PM on April 19, 2002

I love how the Dallas airport doesn't have security cameras.
posted by Settle at 6:26 PM on April 19, 2002

This was 1986, so I suppose things may have changed, but my aunt flew me up to NYC to meet her for my tenth birthday. On the way up and back, the stewardesses sat with me for the bulk of the trip, and then waited with me at the gate until my aunt found me (La Guardia, not the easiest airport to navigate). So, is this a simple fuckup, or have the airlines really degraded so much in 15 years?
posted by GriffX at 7:08 PM on April 19, 2002

This issue has come up before, with respect to children traveling alone, when two girls wound up on the wrong flight back in August. There seem to be several levels of care (which vary from airline to airline), from just having the flight attendants 'keep an eye' on the child (or adult) to having an employee actually sit with the individual, which costs extra. Because of the mix-up with the children, Southwest changed its policies.

It sounds like a simple human error: the employee who was supposed to meet the couple went to wrong gate. By the time the error was discovered, the woman had wandered off. In retrospect, the couple needed a higher level of supervision, probably someone staying with them at all times. Was this predictable ahead of time? The husband, who presumably made the arrangements, apparently didn't think so, or didn't want to pay for it. Now he's suing.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 8:05 PM on April 19, 2002

From the article:

"In a meeting with airline representatives, South said he learned that a pilot and a construction worker saw Margie Dabney on the tarmac the afternoon she disappeared. By the time rescuers reached the secure location, she was gone."

So, old lady with Alzheimer's managed to outwit the National Guardsmen who were charged with keeping the tarmac "secure". Comforting.
posted by Optamystic at 8:30 PM on April 19, 2002

What kind of an idiot would travel with an Alzheimer's victim without making arrangements at the time of buying the tickets? This guy should have hired a private nurse to escort them, especially since he himself was confined to a wheelchair. Dumping this kind of responsibility on an airline without warning is unconscionable. Given her condition, why was this man herding this woman around the country in the first place?

Do the airlines even have staff qualified to tend to Alzheimer's victims? The last I heard, these individuals should be under the constant care of trained mental health staff.
posted by mischief at 9:04 PM on April 19, 2002

Call me overprotective (and many do), but there is no way in hell that I would ever let either of my children fly alone. My father points out that my brother, sister, and I all flew solo when we were pre-teens (divorced parents) without incident...but hell, that was in the 70s, and nobody even wore seatbelts back then, fercrisake. I'd wager my kids have more ability to navigate an airport (or other such facility) than a 70+ y/o Alzheimer's patient. This is just sad -- nobody wins, everybody loses.
posted by davidmsc at 10:31 PM on April 19, 2002

This actually happens? I can't understand how any loved one of a senior citizen diagnosed with Alzheimer's would let them fly alone on the plane. Pay extra to let the stewardesses sit with them? Huh? My Mom's over seventy and though a bit eccentric she's still firing on all cylinders. However, if she had Alzheimer's, I'd either fly with my Mom or get someone I know and trust to go with her. Otherwise, she ain't gettin' on the plane.

And kids under 13 unescorted? You pay for the airline staff to play babysitter? People actually do this? I have difficulty believing this is even legal, much less feasible. But then again I have never flown in a plane in my life so what do I know? I only go to DFW airport to see a friend off or pick them up so they don't have to get a cab. But to actually fly in a plane? I haven't killed enough brain cells with alcohol yet. Get back with me after I show signs of Alzheimer's.
posted by ZachsMind at 12:07 AM on April 20, 2002

ZM: she wasn't flying alone--she was with her husband. From the article:
Joe Dabney recently had undergone hip surgery and was being escorted to a restroom when his wife apparently wandered away. The airline contacted police over an hour later.

Airline officials have said the attendant may not have realized he was responsible for both Dabneys, or that the woman had Alzheimer's.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:17 AM on April 20, 2002

While I don't know that the airline or the attendant can be held accountable for being at the wrong gate or not realising that both Mr. and Mrs. Dabney required attention -- her probably moreso than him -- what does raise a flag for me is the 60 minute wait before authorities were notified. If police, who have the expertise to conduct proper searches for wandering Alzheimer's patients, had been called in earlier, this woman may have been found within a few hours (or days) instead of being missing for several months.

As to the notion that she was abducted, wow, talk about hearing hoofbeats and thinking zebras. Chances are that this woman's corpse is rotting in some obscure, hidden niche of the airport.
posted by Dreama at 1:55 PM on April 20, 2002

Scene at baggage claim: "No, it doesn't look like any of those bags, she was a bit thinner and had arms and legs."
posted by jaden at 11:28 PM on April 20, 2002

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