Family Sues American Airlines After Father With Alzheimer’s Goes Missing From Airport

It’s not uncommon for an airline to lose a piece of luggage for one reason or another during any particular trip from point A to point B; that’s just the risk we take when we hand over a $25 fee and our belongings. While material items can generally be replaced, people can’t be. So, when American Airlines somehow lost track of a passenger with Alzheimer’s earlier this year, his family was worried, and angry with the airline. Thankfully, the man was eventually found, and now his family is filing a lawsuit accusing the carrier of negligence.

The New York Daily News reports that the ordeal began on January 16, when the man’s daughter delivered him to LaGuardia airport for a flight to Haiti – where he could be given around-the-clock care by family members.

The woman says that when she and her grandmother took the man to the airport, she spoke with an American Airlines employee about her father’s condition.

“First thing we did was tell the attendant that my father has Alzheimer’s and dementia and he cannot be by himself,” the woman tell the NYDN. “We put him in a wheelchair with the attendant, watching him get to the gate. And that was the last time we saw my dad.”

Hours later, a family member who was awaiting the man’s arrival for a layover in Florida, phoned to say he never arrived.

While the daughter tried to stay calm, she quickly returned to the airport after several phone calls to the airline.

She says a rep for the airline said her father was never listed in their system for special-assistance services, despite the earlier discussion.

Authorities were able to view security footage of the airport and found that the man had never passed through security or boarded his planned flight. Police officers searched the airport’s terminals, but found no trace of the man. He had simply disappeared.

After spending hours at the airport, the woman and her grandmother drove the his old neighborhood, but had little luck.

The following day, police officers in Brooklyn found the man’s luggage abandoned on the street. The belongings included his passport and papers from a hospital visit that took place while he was missing.

After three days, a concerned resident phoned the daughter after finding him in the street.

He spent the next two weeks in the intensive care unit of New York Community Hospital on Kings Highway, the NYDN reports.

An attorney for the family says they plan to file a federal lawsuit against the airline, which he says has offered no explanation or apology for the situation, only a refund of the $300 ticket that was never used.

“This is a textbook case of negligence,” the attorney tells the NYDN. “We are looking for them to at least acknowledge this even happened.”

A spokesperson for the airline declined to comment on the situation.

Family suing American Airlines for losing dad with Alzheimer’s at LaGuardia, leaving him to wander 3 days in frigid temperatures [The New York Daily News]