A dying mother, a generous landlord, and the people who make our nightmares

All Carrol Amrich wanted to do a week ago Tuesday was get to Minnesota from Pueblo, Colorado to say “goodbye” to her dying mother.

She didn’t make it thanks to the byzantine system of air travel, the New York Times said Friday afternoon.

Her story is the latest in a long and never-ending album of abuse being written by the nation’s travelers.

She had a ticket for the flight. Her landlord had bought it for her because Amrich couldn’t afford one. She had a boarding pass and ticket confirmation. She got on the plane. She’d even buckled her seat belt.

But then United told her to get off the flight. Because the landlord had earlier changed the flight directly with United, the online ticketing company — Traveler Help Desk — canceled the ticket, allegedly to protect Amrich from the possibility of fraud.

The Times said United had assured the landlord at the time that dealing with the airline wouldn’t be a problem.

It was a problem.

When Ms. Amrich pleaded with the gate agent that her mother was dying, the agent said the ticket had been refunded and “nobody flies for free.”

After she was thrown off the flight, her landlord called United and offered to buy another ticket.

“I said: ‘Take my credit card. We’ll straighten this out later, but get her on that plane,’” the landlord said.

United said “no,” later claiming the plane had already left.

Amrich started driving toward Minnesota. Her sister held her phone to her mother’s ear so Amrich could beg her mother to hang on at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester until she got there. Not long after, and before she got to Minnesota, Dixie J. Hanson, 80, of Austin, Minn., was dead.

The ticket agency is saying all the right things. “Sorry” and all that.

“I understand it was unfortunate the ticket ended up voided. Had she contacted us directly to make the change, this all would have been avoided,” the online ticket company representative said, which should be handy information to have the next time her mother dies.

United Airlines’ corporate office later contacted the landlord who had the compassion no one else seemed to have had for Ms. Amrich’s plight.

They wanted to know where to send flowers.

(h/t: Nancy Yang)