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Family Wants Answers After Elderly Woman Finds Herself Stranded At Newark Airport

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NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A family is looking for answers after a woman was left all alone, sitting in a wheelchair at Newark Liberty International Airport.

Alice Vaticano told CBS 2’s Alice Gainer that she was left to sit and wait while her Southwest flight, and many others came and went at Newark.

“A young man pushed me around. He pushed me there and left me,” she said, “I didn’t even know where I was.”

Vaticano, 85, had been visiting family. Her daughter dropped her off at Newark where, she said, a skycap promised to wheel her directly to her assigned gate. Instead, she claimed that he parked her there and left her to fear the worst.

“That I would sit in Newark forever,” she said.

Vatiano was supposed to fly into Denver International Airport where her other daughter Donna was to pick her up. She hadn’t even left her house when Southwest called to say that something had gone wrong with her mother’s trip.

Donna was especially worried because not only is her mother slightly forgetful, she is also diabetic.

“Who was supposed to be paying attention?” she wondered.

Southwest released a statement regarding the incident:

“We’ve researched the details of this Denver customer’s travel and can verify that she checked in for her flight at Newark Liberty International Airport two hours prior to her scheduled departure, but a processing error int hat check-in process did not alert our employees at the gate to her special need (wheelchair) in boarding the aircraft.”

When Southwest realized the mistake they put Vaticano on a connecting flight through Chicago to Denver. For her trouble the airline gave her two $100 vouchers along with Southwest called a heartfelt apology.

The Vaticanos said that it was too little too late.

“I want some more answers. I didn’t get any answers,” Donna said.

Southwest also told CBS 2 that they have counseled the airport employee on handling customers who require special assistance. Travel experts say to avoid a mishap like this, arrange assistance from the counter, through security, to the gate and onto the plane.

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