United Airlines has been in the hot seat after security dragged a man off it’s flight, after the man refused to give us his seat. Now, United is apologizing again, saying one United passenger’s 28-hour nightmare in the air was unacceptable.
The airline called the incident which it just settled in a confidential lawsuit, “a horrible failure.”
Lucie Bahetoukilae doesn’t speak a word of English, that’s why her niece had to translate, taking 7 On Your Side step-by-step how United Airlines allowed her onto the wrong flight.
Her Aunt Lucie’s boarding pass read “Newark to Charles de Gaulle.” She went to the gate stamped on it and, Lucie says, a United representative scanned it. So she boarded the plane and headed for her seat 22C.
“When she went to sit someone was sitting there already,” said Diane Miantsoko, her niece. But she says the flight attendant looked at her boarding pass and instead of questioning it, sat her somewhere else.
Lucie never realized United Airlines made a last minute gate change. And Lucie says United never made the gate announcement in French or notified her by email.
“If they would have made the announcement in French she would she have moved gates,” said Diane. “Of course because she speaks French she would’ve moved to another gate.”
So instead of flying from Newark to Paris, a 7 and a half hour flight, Lucie flew nearly 3,000 miles, in the wrong direction, to San Francisco. There she endured an 11-hour layover in the airport. By the time United got her rerouted home to France, she had been traveling for more than 28 hours.
But more than the inconvenience, the family’s main concern is the apparent security lapse by United.
“With everything going on this country people have to be more careful,” Diane said. “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.”
Diane contacted 7 On Your Side not seeking a refund, only wanting answers.
“This is not about money, this is about United getting serious with their employees,” Diane said.
7 On Your Side contacted United and the airline admitted fault, saying it: “mistakenly put her on the wrong flight.” And even though Lucie wasn’t seeking a refund, she got one along with a voucher for another trip to visit her beloved God children in the future.
United Airlines apologized and also paid for accommodations it hadn’t offered Lucie, when she was waiting for her return flight in San Francisco. Also an airline representative said United’s working with their team in Newark to prevent this from happening again.