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article imageWoman takes United flight, flies 3,000 miles in wrong direction

By Arthur Weinreb     May 7, 2017 in Travel
At least Lucie Bahetoukilae wasn’t forcibly removed from a plane. But if she had been, she would not have ended up in San Francisco instead of Paris, her intended destination. United Airlines then did what they do best—they apologized.
Bahetoukilae, was visiting the United States from France, went to Newark Liberty International Airport for the same reason many others go to airports; she just wanted to go home.
Bahetoukilae does not speak or understand English. She had booked a flight from Newark to Paris and received a proper boarding pass. When she arrived on the United plane, she noticed someone else was sitting in her assigned seat. She notified a flight attendant.
If recent events are any indication, this is usually the time a crew member argues with a passenger, cellphones come out and a passenger is removed from the plane . But Bahetoukilae simply showed her boarding pass to the employee who looked at it and then found another seat for her to sit in. The flight attendant did not seem concerned about the fact two passengers had been assigned the same seat.
There was just one problem. United Airlines had changed the gate the Newark to Paris flight was leaving from. An announcement was made about changing the gate, but as Bahetoukilae speaks does not speak or understand English, she did not understand what was said.
Even though Bahetoukilae does not speak or understand England, her boarding pass clearly stated “Newark to Charles de Gaulle.” The pass was supposedly looked at by the gate attendant who let Bahetoukilae get on the plane. And she said she showed the pass to the crew member to show she had been assigned the seat someone else was occupying.
The flight was uneventful, except for Bahetoukilae who ended up in San Francisco rather than Paris. She spent 11 hours at the San Francisco airport before she could be flown to France. She eventually landed in Paris 28 hours after she left Newark.
Despite not claiming anything, the woman was given a refund, a voucher for another trip and United Airlines covered her expenses while she was in San Francisco.
United Airlines issued a statement describing what happened as a “horrible failure” and admitted Bahetoukilae was put on the wrong flight. They issued an apology to Bahetoukilae and set out everything they did to try and make it right. The airline also announced they are taking steps so this does not happen again.
Diane Miantsoko, Bahetoukilae’s niece, was concerned about not just what happened to her aunt but about security on planes in general. She told ABC, “They didn’t pay attention. My aunt could have been anyone. She could have a terrorist on that flight and killed people and they didn’t know, they didn’t catch it.”
United Airlines has been under fire since a video went viral showing Dr. David Dao being forced off a flight in Chicago because the airline needed his seat for a crew member.
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