ELK GROVE (CBS13) – A Call Kurtis Investigation revealed a couple missed their own son’s funeral over a broken seat. Scott and Jo Shipley will never forget getting the call no parent wants.
“She said it was Lance and started breaking down and then I just knew,” said the distraught mom.
Their son Lance, a father of three with a baby on the way, died of a heart attack at home in Mississippi.
“He was only 34,” said Scott.
The grieving parents say they booked the only flight that would get them to Lance’s funeral in time. They would only have about 45 minutes to spare. But a broken seat delayed the American Airlines flight.
On the plane in Sacramento, they say the flight attendant showed no compassion.
“We’re missing our son’s funeral. We’ve got to do something,” Scott said. “And she just glared me down and said, ‘I lost my mother. I know what you’re going through.’”
The plane took off, but the mechanical delay caused them to miss a connecting flight – missing Lance’s funeral by five hours.
“I just hope he knows how much we loved him,” said Jo Shipley, “even though we weren’t there.”
CBS Travel Editor Peter Greenberg says airlines used to be better at rebooking passengers on other airlines when there are mechanical issues.
“You need to speak to the lead gate agent at the airport,” said Greenberg.
Greenberg says the flight attendant should have brought the issue to the gate agent, who could have pulled the couple off the plane and rebooked them – or at least offered a refund.
Later, American Airlines gave the couple one hundred dollar travel vouchers, which Greenberg calls insulting.
“The airline wants to accept their responsibility and then deal with it with a $100 voucher?” he said. “In my book, not even close enough.”
We reached out to American Airlines, which said: “We apologize if the family believes our team was not compassionate.”
The company says it would have put the couple on another airline if one could have gotten them to the funeral sooner but there were no other options. American upped its $100 dollar travel vouchers to $250. The couple said they always will blame American Airlines for missing Lance’s funeral.
“That’s something you can never recapture,” said Scott.
The airline told us the flight was delayed 45 minutes over that broken seat.
Scott Shipley suddenly passed away before this story aired.