Steven Williams’ mother had been visiting from England and was set to fly back home. Williams said he dropped his wheelchair-bound mother off at Ronald Reagan National Airport in Arlington, Va., where she was set to fly on united airlines to Newark, New Jersey on a leg of her trip home to London. While Williams trusted the airline to care for his 77-year-old mother while in transit, he said United completely let her down.

Williams told WUSA 9-TV that United Airlines is supposed to assist passengers who are in wheelchairs and to provide staff to wheel them through to their plane. He also said they are supposed to take responsibility for the wheelchair-bound passenger until their arrival at their final destination.

However, while the airline reassured him “three or four times” that his mother had made her flight, he heard from the driver, who was scheduled to collect her at the airport in London, that she had never arrived in England. Williams said at no time did anyone from United contact him to tell him his mother hadn't made her flight.

Stranded in Newark Liberty International Airport

It was hours later that Williams found out that his mother had landed in Newark, but had been bumped by United Airlines from her connecting flight to London. Williams claims his mother was left alone at the gate by airline personnel for 12 hours. While they had reportedly offered his mother a room at a hotel, it was “miles away” and she was expected to get herself there “on her own steam.” However, Williams said at her age, there was no way his mother could have pushed herself to the hotel in her wheelchair, so she just sat there, waiting for someone to assist her.

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United Airlines tells a different story

Fox News reports that United Airlines contradicted Williams’ story, with their spokesperson saying they had investigated the incident and that the Elderly Woman was not bumped from the flight, but had rather arrived too late for her London flight connection. The spokesperson told Fox they had offered their customer a hotel and had offered to transport her there, but that she had declined. They also claim that airline staff checked on her during the evening.

The airline says the incident is still under review and that they are in touch with their staff at Newark to find out exactly what happened and to ensure they “learn” from the misunderstanding. The airline spokesperson also said they have spoken with the Williams family and have apologized for the incident. According to Williams, United Airlines has now offered his mother a $1,000 voucher.