A New York woman intends to bring a federal lawsuit against American Airlines for negligence after her father, who suffers from “Alzheimer’s and dementia,” became lost at LaGuardia Airport (LGA) in January, 2015.

He was not found until three days later on the streets of Brooklyn, some 25 miles away.

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According to the NY Daily News, the woman dropped off her 52-year-old father off at LGA around 3am for a 6am flight to Miami where a family member would be waiting to help with his transfer to a flight to his final destination of Haiti.

Now, “dropped off” is a term of art in this sense because the article is unclear exactly HOW, WHERE, or WITH WHOM did she leave her father’s care to before she left the airport.

senior travel

Where does the airlines responsibility begin for passengers with cognitive impairments? To what extent?

The article quotes her as saying:

“First thing we did was tell the attendant that my father has Alzheimer’s and dementia and he cannot be by himself,” said Dupuy, 27. “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.”

Was this an American Airlines employee? An employee of the LGA itself?

And many more questions arise such as why did you not (try to) obtain a pass to accompany him to the flight’s gate? When did you notify the airline of the situation? Did you really just make the request only “hours earlier” instead of when you booked the trip? Did the airline mention that you would be required to accompany him because of the safety concerns?

American Airlines has a policy assist individuals to a point, whereas in-flight safety requires a “traveling assistant.” American Airlines “special assistance” guide notes:

Cognitive and developmental assistance
We provide assistance to individuals with cognitive and developmental disabilities during boarding, connections and deplaning. Customers who require personal or continuous attending care or who are unable to follow safety instructions must have a safety assistant traveling with them.

Reviewed video footage revealed the man never went through security or made it to his departure gate. The father has no recollection what happened to him during those 72 hours, including abandoning his luggage on the streets of Brooklyn (found by NYPD) and receiving medical treatment at New York University Langone Medical Center in Manhattan (where he was discharged without aid?) before a good samaritan found his daughter’s contact information on him and called her.

The only response American Airlines gave, according to the woman, was to refund her father’s $304.60 unused ticket.

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The comments to the article read very heavily against the daughter’s failure to properly ensure the safety of her father, not the airline (or the airport staff).

American Airlines has not offered further comments due to the pending litigation, the article said.

There seem to be a lot of unanswered questions at play here.
Where might you place blame for this man’s difficult experience?


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