Bob Gontarek booked a red eye flight on JetBlue Airways from Denver International Airport to New York.
His mother who was fighting cancer was in a New York hospital and her health took a turn for the worse.
The flight was supposed to take off at 12:55 a.m. on April 9. The plane, which was making a roundtrip flight between New York and DIA, arrived in Denver on time.
There were no weather issues in New York or Colorado.
"At the gate, they announced that there was a problem, that a crew member exceeded the hours and that they were trying to find someone to take their place," Gontarek said.
According to JetBlue Airways, crew members can only work 14 hours before they're required nine hours off.
"I expect when a plane leaves New York, that they will have planned ahead and have a crew ready for it, but they didn't and in essence they had 130 people waiting at the gate and had no plan for getting back," Gontarek said.
At first, the airline was trying to get someone to come in and cover the shift. So the 130-plus passengers waited until 2:30 a.m., still hoping to take off. At 3 a.m. the flight was cancelled.
"They rebooked me for the following night and my mom died without be being there. She missed the comfort by at least having me there," Gontarek said. "They comped me the flight of $110, thank you very much. and sent me a $25 voucher. Whoopie."
Gontarek says the airline still charged him a $75 rebooking fee.
"I really appreciate when people plan ahead especially when you're JetBlue size. They have an obligation to service the things that they sell. If a flight is cancelled because of an act of God, like engine failure or weather I completely understand. This is just completely irresponsible," he said.
JetBlue sent 9NEWS a statement that said in part, "In addition to offering customers the option for a refund or a rebooking on this flight, we also provided them with a one-way voucher towards a future JetBlue flight."
The flight that the airline was going to rebook people on was at 11:30 a.m. That's close to 11 hours after the original flight.
According to Gontarek, he didn't receive a voucher for a future flight, just the $25 gift card, which he says it's obviously not about the money, it's the premise.
9NEWS talked with the founder of FlyersRights.org, an organization that deals with airline passengers rights and they specialize in making sure people are treated fairly.
"JetBlue clearly dropped the ball in this situation, and they owe this man not only money, and not only an apology, but they owe him a free flight anywhere he wants to go. It is ludicrous that they have him pay that re-faring fee and ludicrous to give him a $25 voucher. I don't even get that. I mean, they've got their customer bill of rights online, they guarantee more than that. It's almost like you have to be one of those crazy passengers that actually reads the entire contract of carriage just to ensure that the airline treats you fairly. I don't think so," Kate Hanni, founder of FlyersRight.org, said.
Gontarek wrote JetBlue asking for a sincere apology. They have yet to respond to his letter.
He is now filing a report through the Department of Transportation.
(KUSA-TV © 2012 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)