How was Lucie Bahetoukilae allowed to board a United Airlines flight in Newark and fly to San Francisco, even though she thought she was supposed to be going to France? That’s the question that has the traveler’s family questioning an apparent airline security lapse that resulted in a 3,000-mile, wrong-way plane trip.
Bahetoukilae’s unexpected voyage began at Newark Liberty International Airport on April 24, when she arrived at a United Airline boarding gate en route from Newark to Charles de Gaulle Airport, ABC New York reported.
If United made an announcement about the gate change, it was no help to Bahetoukilae, who doesn’t speak a word of English, according to her niece, Diane Miantsoko.
Instead, Bahetoukilae proceeded toward her original gate, where a United employee allegedly scanned her boarding pass and allowed her to continue toward her designated seat. But after making her way down the aisle, Bahetoukilae had a surprise waiting: there was someone else in her seat.
Miantsoko said the mix-up could have been recognized at that point. But she told a reporter that a flight attendant simply moved her aunt to another empty seat on the plane.
The result? A 3,000-mile flight for Bahetoukilae and an 11-hour layover when she landed in San Francisco.