Sick Grandfather Cancels Vacation, Saves Family of Five from Missing AirAsia Flight

Flickr/ Peter Russell

As Indonesian officials continue to search for missing AirAsia Flight  QZ8501, the human toll this mystery is taking on those directly involved is coming to the fore, as families await eagerly news of their loved ones’ fate. Not all who could have taken the flight out of Indonesia were on board, however– and one family of five escaped being on board entirely thanks to a sick grandfather.

The Malay Mail Online reports that Inge Goreti Ferdiningsih and her husband, Chandra Susanto, had canceled a vacation to Singapore that would have placed them on the ill-fated plane. Their three children– a ten-year-old, a seven-year-old, and a five-year-old– would have been on board.

“The kids were still on holidays and Christopher was very upset when we said that we couldn’t go after all,” Ferdiningsih said of her ten-year-old son, explaining that they had to cancel the trip due to an illness on the part of the children’s grandfather. Opting to stay with an ill relative may have saved their lives. Christopher, his mother said, refused to believe that the plane they would have taken was missing upon being told, and had to be shown their tickets to believe it.

The Malay Mail adds that the Susanto family were not the only ones who did not board. Three infants are listed on the fight manifest as having tickets for the flight, but never boarding. 26 total people failed to board the plane before it began its 2-hour flight towards Singapore and disappeared in the early morning hours of Sunday, local time.

Indonesian authorities said today at a press briefing that they believe the plane is “at the bottom of the sea,” after flying through rough weather and asking for an “unusual route,” apparently to avoid bad weather. “Based on the co-ordinates given to us and evaluation that the estimated crash position is in the sea, the hypothesis is the plane is at the bottom of the sea,” said Bambang Soelistyo, the head of Indonesia’s search and rescue operations.

The search so far has found “suspicious” objects in the general area where the plane is believed to have crashed, but nothing has been confirmed as being related to that flight yet. The New Straits Times reports that 30 ships and 15 aircraft have been deployed as part of an international effort to find the plane.

The plane had been flying amid storm clouds, but officials noted that no distress signal came from the cockpit before it disappeared. There were 162 passengers on board.