What was supposed to be a seven-hour flight turned into a 28-hour ordeal for a United Airlines passenger recently, after a passenger was able to board a plane to San Francisco instead of her intended destination, Paris.
ABC New York reports that a French woman who doesn’t speak English headed to the gate at Newark Liberty International Airport listed on her boarding pass. Her niece told the station that a gate attendant scanned her pass and let her on the plane, where she headed for her seat. But she claims that when someone else was sitting there already, a flight attendant looked at her boarding pass and then simply seated her elsewhere.
Someone was in her seat, it seems, because the flight was going to San Francisco, not Paris: Unbeknownst to her, United had changed the gate at the last minute. She says the announcement was not made in French, and she didn’t receive a notification email about the switch.
Because of the mixup, she ended up flying almost 3,000 miles in the wrong direction, and had to endure an 11-hour layover once she landed in San Francisco. By the time United finally got her to France, she had been traveling for more than 28 hours.
Beyond the inconvenience factor, this kind of mistake could be a security issue, her niece tells that station.
“With everything going on this country people have to be more careful,” she said. “They didn’t pay attention. My aunt could have been anyone.”
When United contacted the airline, the carrier apologized and admitted it had “mistakenly put her on the wrong flight.” The passenger didn’t ask for refund, but United is offering one anyway, along with a voucher for another trip. The airline also paid for accommodations it hadn’t offered the traveler when she was stuck in San Francisco.