As Carrol Amrich waited for the flight to see her dying mother one last time to take off, the unthinkable happened: Her ticket was unexpectedly and inexplicably canceled. A change in the reservation, made out of necessity due to the urgency of the situation, triggered the vendor’s anti-fraud system, the New York Times reported.

That meant, as Amrich was seated and buckled in just a few minutes before takeoff, she was asked to vacate the plane and miss the last chance she had to see her mother alive.

Amrich needed to make the trip from Pueblo, Colorado to Minnesota, where her mother was suddenly hospitalized. Her landlord Ines Prelas bought her a plane ticket, as she could not afford it herself and it was clearly preferable to driving. The problem arose when Amrich’s mother suffered heart failure, meaning the reservation needed to be changed to an earlier flight.

The original ticket was purchased through Traveler Help Desk, a third party vendor that had the cheapest available tickets when Prelas searched for them. However, Prelas made the reservation change directly through United Airlines instead of Traveler, with the assumption that it would be easiest that way. United reportedly said there would be no problem.

Traveler canceled the reservation after the change because, in their words, they thought the change may have been fraudulent. Amrich said she was not contacted beforehand, but Traveler said they tried to get in touch.

Ultimately, Amrich had to drive non-stop from Colorado to Minnesota. She did not make it in time to say goodbye to her mother. United reportedly offered to send flowers.


GettyImages-2996851 A newly painted United Airlines jet is seen in this UAL handout photograph from its corporate headquarters February 19, 2004 in Elk Grove Village, Illinois. Photo: United Airlines via Getty Images