UPDATE: After Scott Songy (and WGNO) repeatedly asked Southwest Airlines for a response and reimbursement, see what happened at the end of this story.
Metairie, LA -The thrills and chills of a spooky theme park are nothing compared to the real horror for Scott Songy. He spent three days trapped in his hotel room.
For a year, Songy had been planning a trip to Universal Studios in Orlando. One attraction in particular that appealed to him is Universal's "Hollywood Horrors Night," and Songy paid to see it.
But Songy didn't just buy tickets for himself. He also paid for the complete trip-- with a hotel room and flights from New Orleans-- for his friend and home health care aide, Dayshawn Brown.
Songy is a quadriplegic, and he depends on Brown's help for basic needs like getting into and out of his customized electric wheelchair.
"It was a trip that we both needed," says Songy. "Dayshawn has done a lot for me and together we can achieve things. He's a big part of my life."
Unfortunately, the trip was ruined before it really got started.
Songy and Brown arrived in Orlando on Friday, Sept. 14, on a Southwest Airlines flight from New Orleans. When they were getting ready to get off the plane they were told that Songy's wheelchair had been broken in the cargo hold.
Songy says that after several hours of waiting, Southwest arranged to have a repair company meet him at the airport to fix his wheelchair.
But when the repairman arrived, Songy says he didn't bring any tools. Instead, the repairman took Songy's wheelchair back to his shop and left him with a replacement-- that he couldn't use.
"I'm 6'2 and the chair didn't fit me," says Songy, "I didn't feel safe in it. It didn't have a chest strap or anything so I felt that if I lost my balance I was gonna fall on the floor."
Songy and Brown spent Friday night in Orlando at their hotel, and Scott called the repair shop Saturday morning. That's when he was told that the shop was closed on weekends.
With his own wheelchair at the shop, and the replacement unusable, Songy and Brown wound up spending their three day weekend in Orlando at the hotel, just a few yards from the gate at Universal Studios.
"The only thing I could do was try to move in the area I felt safe- the lobby," says Songy, "and when I felt tired I got back in bed."
Songy and Brown flew back to New Orleans on Monday, Sept. 17, without the wheelchair, which was still at the repair shop.
Southwest Airlines flew the wheelchair back the next day-- still broken. Songy says a local repairman fixed it the same afternoon.
Songy says his cost for the ruined trip was about $2800 dollars, which included the hotel room, the flights for him and Brown, the meals, and the tickets to Universal Studios.
Songy says he tried to get some kind of refund from Southwest Airlines, but got the runaround. WGNO left a voicemail and sent a detailed email to Southwest's media relations department, as well as calling and emailing Universal Studios to check on the theme park's cancellation policy. So far, neither company has responded.
If there are heroes in this story, Songy says it was the staff at The Hard Rock Hotel where he and Brown stayed. When the staff found out about their predicament, they gave Songy a room on the ground floor beside the pool, so he could at least go outside, and they stocked the room's mini-bar for free.
And although Brown could have gone to the theme park without Songy, he refused to leave his patient and friend.
UPDATE: Southwest Airlines reimburses man for ruined trip