Muriel Moorhead, 82-year-old Norwegian Air passenger, was scheduled to fly out of Orlando International Airport home to London on July 14, 2019, when she was left in a wheelchair at the wrong gate by airport staff. She consequently missed her flight and was afterward forced to pay for a new ticket.
Her son, Brian Moorhead, said that he brought his mother—who is wheelchair-bound and nearly blind—to the airport three hours ahead of her scheduled departure. Prohibited from wheeling his mother through airport security himself, he had to leave her in the care of the airline, which would be responsible for escorting her to her gate.
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Hours later, he received a distressing phone call. “She’s tough and she was in tears crying. She was taken to the wrong gate, saying the flight left without her,” Moorhead said. He reports that his mom was left at gate 96, rather than gate 94. “When I looked at the boarding pass, the person who wrote the number on the boarding pass [said] it looks…it could look like a four. A genuine mistake,” Moorhead said.
Upon phoning to re-book his mother for another flight, he was forced to pay an additional $440 for a second ticket. Mr. Moorhead then filed a complaint with the airline, but Norwegian’s initial response infuriated him.
Citing the company’s general policy, its agents blamed the passenger, saying, “You left the gate on your own and didn’t present yourself at the due time for boarding. Having in mind this information, we understand that we have complied with the above-mentioned regulations.”
Moorhead fumed, “They kept saying she didn’t show up, she didn’t show up. I said, ‘I have a boarding pass. I’m sitting here looking at it, and you have her case. You have her luggage checked in.’”
Only after Orlando news outlet FOX 35 inquired about Moorhead’s experience did Norwegian launch an investigation into the incident and agree to issue Mr. Moorhead a refund for the additional ticket.
Anders Lindstrom, Norwegian Air’s Director of Communications for North America, then released a statement to FOX 35: “Norwegian sincerely apologizes for this situation, which should never have happened. While Norwegian Air is the operating airline, we contract certain services at Orlando International Airport. One ground handler is responsible for check-in and boarding agents, while another company handles services such as wheelchair assistance.”
“In this case, based on the information we have received, there seems to have been miscommunication as to what happened to Ms. Moorhead, who should not have been left by herself. She should, of course, have been given proper attention and care until she boarded, which is when Norwegian Air cabin crew would be responsible for her well-being until she arrived in London.”
“Due to this miscommunication of events, Mr. Moorhead was unfortunately charged for a new ticket the following night, which should also not have happened, and Norwegian apologies for this. A refund has been issued.”