Security Footage Shows Woman in Wheelchair Was Not Stranded in Airport Overnight

Dec 4, 2018

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Newly discovered security camera footage contradicts family claims that American Airlines employees stranded an elderly disabled woman overnight in Chicago O’Hare.

The woman, Olimpia Warsaw, had flown into Chicago from Detroit in order to attend a funeral. On the return route home, her son, Claude Coltea, said he wheeled his mother to her gate and delivered her into the care of the American Airlines gate agent before heading off to his own return flight to his home in another state.

But Warsaw’s flight was canceled later that evening, after Coltea’s plane had already left the airport. Coltea told CBS Chicago that he and other family members were not notified either of the flight status or of his mother’s whereabouts until she failed to appear in Detroit as scheduled. Coltea also said that his mother was unable to communicate clearly or arrange transportation to get herself from the airport to the hotel that American Airlines provided for her accommodation. As a result, the family claimed that Warsaw spent the night in her wheelchair, unable to even go to the bathroom without assistance. The family did not ask for financial compensation from the airline; however, they did call for AA to improve its policies supporting disabled and elderly travelers.

However, American Airlines conducted an internal investigation that determined Warsaw did not, in fact, stay overnight in the airport. Rather, AA claims that Warsaw was only left alone in O’Hare for about 45 minutes before she was picked up by someone in an SUV. The airline’s conclusion came from reviewing security camera footage, call records from the wheelchair attendant’s phone, American Airlines reservations call records and other time stamped systems.

American Airlines has not released the security camera footage to TPG or other publications as of the time of this post. However, an airline spokesperson released the following timeline based on reviewing the security camera’s footage:

Friday, Nov. 30:

  • 8:30 p.m. CT: Mr. Coltea checks in for his flight to Bradley International Airport (BDL), Flight 2472 from ORD to BDL
  • 8:31 p.m. CT: Ms. Warsaw checks in and checks two bags for Flight 3155
  • 9:42 p.m. CT: Ms. Warsaw boards Flight 3155 from ORD to DTW in seat 2C
  • 9:55 p.m. CT: Mr. Coltea boards his flight – Flight 2472 from ORD to BDL – in seat 4E
  • 10:15 p.m. CT: Scheduled departure time of Flight 3155 from ORD to DTW
  • 10:31 p.m. CT: Mr. Coltea’s flight for BDL takes off
  • 10:32 p.m. CT: Flight 3155 departs the gate
  • 11:14 p.m. CT: Flight 3155 ground interrupts and returns to the gate due to a maintenance issue
  • 11:20 p.m. CT: Flight canceled
  • 11:21 p.m. CT: Rebooked for the 8:55 a.m. CT flight on Dec. 1 from ORD to DTW
  • 11:32 p.m. CT: Wheelchair attendant picks up Ms. Warsaw at the gate
  • 11:36 p.m. CT: Hotel voucher printed for the Chicago O’Hare Hyatt Place + meal voucher
  • 11:58 p.m. CT: Mr. Coltea’s flight lands at BDL

Saturday, Dec. 1:

  • 12:02 a.m. CT: Mr. Coltea’s flight arrives at the gate at BDL
  • 12:06 a.m. CT: Wheelchair attendant is seen on closed circuit TV assisting Ms. Warsaw in the public area of the terminal near the wheelchair waiting area
  • 12:10 a.m. CT: Wheelchair attendant calls relative – Claudiu Coltea’s cell phone – and is on the phone for six minutes via the call log
  • 12:21 a.m. CT: Wheelchair attendant calls relative – Claudiu Coltea’s cell phone – and is on the phone for two minutes via the call log
  • 12:30 a.m. CT: Wheelchair attendant drops Ms. Warsaw off at the Upper Level (UL) wheelchair waiting area
  • 12:32 a.m. CT: Ms. Warsaw uses her walker to go outside via UL Door 3D to smoke a cigarette for seven minutes
  • 12:39 a.m. CT: Ms. Warsaw returns inside after smoking
  • 1:00 a.m. CT: Claudiu Coltea contacts American reservations via telephone and rebooks her for the 1:40 p.m. CT flight on Dec. 1 for ORD-DTW. He then said someone was en route to the airport to pick her up
  • 1:12 a.m. CT: Ms. Warsaw uses her walker to go outside via UL Door 3D a second time to smoke a cigarette for six minutes
  • 1:13 a.m. CT: A male and female relative arrive in an SUV and park between UL Door 3A and 3B. The female relative exits the vehicle and enters the terminal thru UL Door 3A, and the male remains with the vehicle
  • 1:18 a.m. CT: Ms. Warsaw returns inside after smoking
  • 1:46 a.m. CT: The female relative meets with Ms. Warsaw at the wheelchair waiting area and begins pushing her towards UL Door 3B
  • 1:48 a.m. CT: The female relative stops and takes a picture of Ms. Warsaw sitting in the wheelchair, then leaves Ms. Warsaw sitting there and walks towards TSA Checkpoint 6
  • 1:49 a.m. CT: The female relative comes back to Ms. Warsaw and is met by a CPD officer at UL Door 3B, has a very short conversation with the CPD officer. She then pushes Ms. Warsaw outside to the waiting vehicle and they both get inside. The male relative exits the vehicle when they arrive and puts the walker in the rear of the SUV
  • 1:53 a.m. CT: All parties involved leave the area in the SUV

The Washington Post reported that Coltea had not responded to several requests for comment.

Featured photo by Getty Images. 

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.