United Airlines is back in the news, but not for dragging a person off or accidentally killing a rabbit. This time they managed to send a woman to San Francisco when she was supposed to be going to Paris, according to ABC7.
Because the passenger, a woman named Lucie Bahetoukilae, doesn't speak English, Bahetoukilae's niece, Diane Miantsoko, translated for her. Here's the whole story.
Apparently, Bahetoukilae's boarding pass read: "Newark to Charles de Gaulle." When she went to the gate stamped on her pass, a United representative scanned it and allowed her to board the plane. Someone was already in her seat, but the flight attendant who looked at her boarding pass failed to notice the destination and just sat Bahetoukilae in another seat.
It turns out that United had made a last minute gate change, but Bahetoukilae didn't realize it, because the announcement wasn't made in French and she didn't receive email notification.
So this poor woman flew 3,000 miles in the wrong direction from Newark, ending up in San Francisco after a 7.5-hour flight. Then, after an 11-hour layover in the airport, she got back on a plane, this time heading in the right direction. All in all, Bahetoukilae had been traveling more than 28 hours by the time she reached France.
Miantsoko contacted ABC7, looking for answers. She claimed the family wasn't looking for a refund, but was concerned with United's failure to notice the error, which points to an obvious slip-up in security procedures.
"With everything going on this country people have to be more careful," Miantsoko explained. "They didn't pay attention. My aunt could have been anyone. She could have been a terrorist and killed people on that flight and they didn't know, they didn't catch it." Yikes.
ABC7 contacted United Airlines, who did admit it was at fault, and called the whole incident "a horrible failure." Although Bahetoukilae wasn't looking for a refund, United gave her one (which, come on, of course they should), along with a voucher for another trip. It also apparently paid for accommodations it hadn't offered her during her layover in San Francisco. A representative for the airline said United is working with their Newark team to ensure this sort of thing doesn't happen again.
Is there an airplane coach? Maybe United should take the bench for a while.