Wheelchair-bound passenger lost at airport - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Wheelchair-bound passenger lost at airport

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The woman's family says she was left parked in a wheelchair for hours, missing her flight. (Source: KCNC/WCBS/CNN) The woman's family says she was left parked in a wheelchair for hours, missing her flight. (Source: KCNC/WCBS/CNN)

DENVER (KCNC/WCBS/CNN) - A trip to the East Coast to visit her daughter turned into a bit of a marathon for Alice Vaticano, 85.

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

Alice Vaticano's daughter took her to the Newark airport, where a skycap promised to wheel her directly to her gate, since her daughter wasn't permitted to go on the concourse with her.

"Well, she pushed me there and left me," Alice Vaticano said.

Somehow, the woman got parked and forgotten. She sat long enough to miss her flight and realize that no one seemed to know she was there.

"I didn't even know where I was," Alice Vaticano said.

Neither did her other daughter in Denver, who was waiting to pick her up at Denver International Airport.

"Where was she? What happened to her? What are people's jobs? Who's supposed to be paying attention?" Donna Vaticano said.

The daughter panicked when she realized the airline had lost her diabetic and slightly forgetful mother.

"That's 11 hours with no food," Donna Vaticano said.

Southwest Airlines admits something went wrong. It said in its official statement: "We've researched the details of this Denver customer's travel and can verify that she checked in at her flight at Newark Liberty International Airport two hours prior to her scheduled departure. but a processing error in that check-in process did not alert our employees at the gate to her special need (wheelchair) in boarding the aircraft."

Southwest realized the mistake. Alice Vaticano was then put on a connecting flight through Chicago to Denver. Throughout her ordeal, the woman was never fed, Donna Vaticano said.

Alice Vaticano did get two $100 vouchers for future travel on Southwest. She is now home safely, but this mother-daughter duo hopes airlines take their handling of older and handicapped passengers a bit more seriously.

"No, I want answers," Donna Vaticano said. "What the heck happened?"

A Southwest spokesperson said the skycaps in Newark are not actual airline employees. They are just workers who are assigned to help individual airlines.

Copyright 2014 KCNC/WCBS via CNN. All rights reserved.