French-speaking woman passenger headed for Paris aboard United airlines flies 4,800-km in wrong direction into US airspace
NEW YORK,May8: A French-speaking woman flew more than 4,800-km in the wrong direction in the US after United Airlines failed to notify her of her flight’s last-minute gate change, according to media reports.
Lucie Bahetoukilae, who does not speak English, was supposed to go to Paris from Newark on April 24 but was horrified when she landed in San Francisco. Three thousand miles (4,828 km) later, Bahetoukilae disembarked at San Francisco International Airport, where she waited an additional 11 hours before boarding a flight back to Paris. In total, she claims to have been travelling for 28 hours, WABC TV reported.
The airline called the incident, which it just settled in a confidential lawsuit, “a horrible failure,” it said.
“When she went to sit someone was sitting there already,” her niece Diane Miantsoko said.
She said the flight attendant looked at her boarding pass and instead of questioning it, sat her somewhere else. Bahetoukilae never realised United Airlines made a last-minute gate change. She said United never made the gate announcement in French or notified her by email, the report said.
“This is not about money, this is about United getting serious with their employees,” Miantsoko said. United Airlines later apologised and also paid for accommodations it had not offered Bahetoukilae, when she was waiting for her return flight in San Francisco.
An airline representative said United is working with their team in Newark to prevent this from happening again.