A widow from suburban Philadelphia is suing US Airways as a final resort to getting answers for her claim that the airline lost her husband’s ashes during a 2011 flight to England to put him to rest in his hometown of Kingston upon Hull, aka Hull, in Yorkshire, England.
Angeline O’Grady’s husband, Brian, died of cancer in October 2011. In November 2011, she set off for England to spread her husband’s ashes in their final resting place. However, she says the TSA security officers would not let her carry the ashes through security at Philadelphia International Airport (PHL). It should be noted that a 2012 TSA’s official blog post states, in part:
However, if the TSA screeners cannot conclusively evaluate the package, then passenger may be required to check the human remains:
Under no circumstances will an officer open the container, even if the passenger requests this be done. If the officer cannot determine that the container does not contain a prohibited item, the remains will not be permitted.
We understand the emotional stress passengers may be under when transporting the remains of a loved one. Our guidelines for traveling with crematory remains is not intended to make this already emotionally difficult process more complex than needed. However, crematory remains are one of the many sensitive items that could be exploited by someone wanting to conceal a dangerous item. [travelblawg’s emphasis]
O’Grady stated she had to return to the US Airways ticket counter to check the ashes, and now running too late for her scheduled flight, was required to buy a $500 business class ticket (although it’s unclear if this ticket was for the same flight to presumably be expedited through security or on another flight). She claims the container of ashes was missing from her baggage when she reached England. All her attempts to get a reasonable answer for the loss of her husband’s remains and their current location went unanswered, according to her and her attorney.
She has now filed a lawsuit against US Airways last week in Philadelphia seeking relief of $200,000, plus damages and other costs, for breach of contract, bailment, negligence and intentional infliction of mental distress. Her attorney told CBS: “She feels that she failed to honor her husband’s last request that his ashes be scattered along with his mother’s.” He said ashes are allowed in hand luggage, so it was not clear why officials told her they had to be put in the hold. “They obviously made the choice, through incompetence and outrageous behavior, to determine his last resting place,” he said.
US Airways has responded, according to ABCNews.com, stating, “While we certainly send our condolences to Mrs. O’Grady, US Airways’ investigation into this matter did not uncover any information indicating that US Airways is responsible for this unfortunate incident.” Todd Lehmacher, a spokesman for US Airways, continued in a written statement, “We, of course, will defend ourselves against the suit.”
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