United Puts 80-Year-Old Blind Woman on Wrong Flight, Offers Offensive Apology


Imagine waiting at the airport to pick up a loved one only for them not to show up because they were put on the wrong flight.

This was the reality for Mikki Paradis who was waiting for her mother-in-law, Maria Larios, to land at Raleigh-Durham International Airport, only to find out later the partially blind 80-year-old had landed in Denver.

“How is it possible that a woman got on a plane that she did not have a boarding pass for and is now in another state?” Paradis said to WRAL.

When Larios did not arrive at 6 p.m. as planned, Paradis was informed that there was a mix-up, but her mother-in-law was placed on a new flight to Raleigh and given a meal voucher to make up for the mistake, according to People Magazine.

Paradis was upset by how the United Airlines treated the situation.

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“They were like, ‘Oh yeah. We made a mistake, and she was given the wrong boarding pass and so she’s in Denver. But it’s not a big deal. We’ve already got her on a flight to Raleigh, and we gave her a meal voucher,'” Paradis recalled.

Paradis was frustrated by the casual response to her complaint.

“You lost a person, and the whole time they were treating me like they lost my luggage,” Paradis said.

Larios’ family had arranged for special assistance from United Airlines because the elderly woman is partially blind and doesn’t speak English.

She was flying from El Salvador to be with her daughter who was going to have brain surgery.

When Larios was in Houston for a layover, she accidentally got on the wrong plane.

According to Paradis, her mother-in-law’s boarding pass was switched, so someone else was sent to Raleigh and Larios flew to Denver.

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“She cannot read or write even in her own language. She can’t speak English at all. So when you hand her a boarding pass, she’s trusting that it’s the right boarding pass,” Paradis said.

United apologized for their mistake and Larios was put on a flight that brought her to Raleigh around midnight on the same day.

The airline later issued a refund and travel certificate for her troubles.

“Our customer care team is in contact with her family to ensure we make this right,” United said in a statement following the incident. “We are also investigating this incident internally to better understand what happened so that we can prevent this from happening again.”

Thankfully, it sounds like United is working to right the situation, despite their initial offer of just a meal voucher.

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Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. A University of Oregon graduate, Erin has conducted research in data journalism and contributed to various publications as a writer and editor.
Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. She grew up in San Diego, California, proceeding to attend the University of Oregon and graduate with honors holding a degree in journalism. During her time in Oregon, Erin was an associate editor for Ethos Magazine and a freelance writer for Eugene Magazine. She has conducted research in data journalism, which has been published in the book “Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future.” Erin is an avid runner with a heart for encouraging young girls and has served as a coach for the organization Girls on the Run. As a writer and editor, Erin strives to promote social dialogue and tell the story of those around her.
Tucson, Arizona
Graduated with Honors
Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, University of Oregon
Books Written
Contributor for Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future
Prescott, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English, French
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Health, Entertainment, Faith