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Society

United Airlines Accused Of Mistreating Sick 94-Year-Old

| by Sheena Vasani

One California woman called United Airlines "inhumane," saying it discriminated against her 94-year-old grandmother, who has degenerative bone disease and severe arthritis.

In a March 1, 2017 Facebook post, Marianne Santos Aguilar explains her grandmother, Paz Orquiza, 94, was returning home to Australia in February from a family reunion in Los Angeles.

Orquiza's grandchildren purchased the elderly woman a $3,600 business class ticket so she could travel comfortably.

While they say the flight to Los Angeles went according to plan, the flight back was anything but easy.

Aguilar's aunt, Rose Benedicto, was traveling with Orquiza, but on a economy class ticket. She planned to help with various tasks, such as feeding her mother and adjusting the seat for her.

When they boarded the flight, United Airlines staff refused to allow Benedicto to help her elderly mother in business class.

"Without any sympathy or compassion, Shauna [the Business Class flight attendant] said my grandma's only options were to 1) move to Economy with my aunt or 2) take another flight and purchase another Business Class ticket for my aunt," Aguilar writes, adding they violated the Air Carrier Access Act by discriminating against her grandmother based on disability.

As a result, Orquiza had to move to economy and reportedly spent a 16-hour flight upset and in pain.

"Feeling like she had no choice, my grandma moved to Economy and spent the next 16 hours in distress and pain," explains 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."

Even after getting off the flight, Orquiza continued to suffer.

"My grandma's legs had swollen, she suffered from a stiff neck and her whole body ached," Aguilar said, later adding it took a week for her grandmother to recover and that she was prescribed Valium to help her sleep.  

Aguilar says her family was "heartbroken" when they found out what happened to their grandmother, adding it "ruined" their family reunion.

Adding insult to injury, Aguilar says United Airlines continued acting without "humanity and compassion" in response.

"United claimed their crew's recollection differed (shocking!) and that disability regulations were not broken," writes Aguilar. "They gave my grandma $500 travel certificates which we do not plan to use and are in the process of refunding us $860 even though the original ticket cost $3,600."

As of April 10, Aguilar says the airline has yet to provide a refund despite the fact "it has been over 2 months."

"United is a pathetic excuse for an airline," she wrote. "We can take them down. BOYCOTT UNITED!"

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