Elderly woman stranded for hours at Newark Airport

Alice Vaticano thought she "would sit in Newark forever." It may not have been forever, but her trip home to Denver sure felt that way.

"I was just sitting all day in a wheelchair," she said.

Earlier this month, one of Vaticano's daughters dropped her off at New Jersey's Newark Liberty International Airport, but she wasn't allowed to take her mom to the gate without a ticket.

A skycap offered to wheel the 85-year-old inside the terminal, but apparently forgot about her.

"He pushed me there and left me," Vaticano said. "He didn't say anything. He didn't do anything and nobody else showed up, and I didn't know why I was sitting there."

Vaticano ended up missing her flight, left stranded and alone for hours.

"If I had to use the ladies room, I had to wait until somebody passed by that belonged to the airport and I said, 'Excuse me, could you please push me to the ladies room?'" Vaticano said.

Back in Denver, her other daughter, Donna, started to panic.

"Where was she? What happened to her? What are people's jobs? Who is supposed to be paying attention? There are all my questions that never got answered," Donna said.

Southwest Airlines told CBS News that an employee noticed Vaticano once the gate area cleared and immediately worked to rebook her. She eventually got on a connecting flight through Chicago to Denver, where her ordeal came to an end -- 11 hours later.

"By the time I got done going all over the place, I didn't even know what state I was in anymore," Vaticano said.

In a statement, Southwest Airlines blamed the mishap on a processing error at check-in, and said, "We've counseled the airport employee on our Southwest processes, which allow for special attention for customers requiring assistance in boarding."

The airline also offered Vaticano $200 in vouchers for future travel.

She says she'll be using those, "any day now -- never!"

Comments

CBSN Live

pop-out
Live Video

Follow Us

Watch CBSN Live

Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the new 24/7 digital news network. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone.

The Newsroom