Elderly Couple Sent on Wrong Flight — Land 575 Miles From Intended Destination

Mar 27, 2017

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With the technology we have these days, it’s pretty hard to end up on the wrong flight, bound for completely different destination from what you originally intended. But that’s exactly what happened to one Florida couple when they were departing Fort Lauderdale (FLL) for Grand Rapids, MI (GRR), but ended up in… Ogdensburg, NY (OGS)?

Helen Wheeker, 96, and George Nobel, 89, who split their time between Davie, Florida, and the Grand Rapids, Michigan area, were dropped off at FLL by family members last week. From there, they were transported through the airport via wheelchairs by staff, who dropped them off at the gate next to the one designated for their flight. The couple’s boarding passes for GRR scanned on the OGS-bound flight and away they went.

As reported by Local 10 News in Miami, the couple didn’t think anything of their flight — it was about the same length as their usual trip to Grand Rapids. “We had a typical day on the plane, reading, snacking and dozing,” Wheeker said of their nearly 3.5-hour Allegiant Air flight to Ogdensburg.

When they arrived about 575 miles away from their scheduled destination of Grand Rapids, the couple was confused — as were their relatives who were waiting at GRR to pick them up. “We were all upset,” Nobel’s son, Mark Nobel, told Local 10 News.”Where [are] they at? I mean, they’re flying around the country somewhere.”

Once it was established that the couple had indeed boarded the wrong flight and ended up in the small town near the border with Ontario, Canada, the couple flew back down to FLL to take another flight — this time, hopefully to their desired destination. An Allegiant spokeswoman blamed the mix-up on a malfunctioning boarding pass scanner, which didn’t recognize that the couple was boarding the wrong flight.

Allegiant apologized for the mistake, gave the couple a full refund and rebooked them on another flight correctly bound for Grand Rapids.

Featured image courtesy of Pgiam via Getty Images.

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