SHE had already taken her seat on the plane, hoping to visit her dying mother one last time. But a ticket bungle robbed her of her chance to say goodbye.
Carrol Amrich of Pueblo, Colorado, has told of her horror at being removed from the United Airlines plane that was bound for Minnesota just minutes before it was to take off.
The gate agent told her that her ticket had been cancelled, and despite her pleas she was told "nobody flies for free".
Back at the gate she offered to pay for another ticket but wasn't allowed back on board, with the airline later claiming the plane had already left.
It turns out the mix-up was due to a technicality. The ticket for the January 16 flight had been purchased by her landlord.
Traveler Help Desk, the company that sold it to her, cancelled it because her landlord had made a change directly with United, even though the airline assured them it was OK to do so.
Receiving no sympathy or help from the airline despite being obviously distressed, Ms Amrich was left with no choice but to drive to see her mother, Dixie Hanson.
She begged her mother to hold on via a phone call on the way.
But the next time her phone rang, she was informed she was dead.
"I drove 1000 miles (1610 kilometres), and she was gone before I got here," Ms. Amrich told the New York Times two days later.
"I never stopped to rest. I went straight through. And she was gone.
"I cried the whole way from Pueblo. I've been awake for two days. I haven't eaten for two days."
Traveler Help Desk spokeswoman Carolyn Gallant confirmed to the New York Times that the ticket has been cancelled as a protection against fraud.
"I am just so sorry for Ms Amrich's loss," Ms Gallant said.
"I understand it was unfortunate the ticket ended up voided. Had she contacted us directly to make the change, this all would have been avoided."
The flight date had been changed when her mother's condition deteriorated, requiring her to travel sooner.
When contacting the airline, they were assured it was fine to make the change through them instead of Traveler Help Desk.