United Messes Up Again: Flies Customer to San Francisco Instead of France

United Airlines planes sit on the tarmac at San Francisco International Airport on January 23, 2014 in San Francisco, California
Getty/AFP/File Justin Sullivan

Apologizing once again, this time for accidentally flying a customer to San Francisco instead of to her actual destination of France, United Airlines cannot seem to get out from under an avalanche of public relations disasters.

United customer Lucie Bahetoukilae had purchased a ticket to fly from Newark, New Jersey, to Paris, France, but instead, found herself landing in San Francisco, California, after she was allowed to board the wrong plane, according to Fox News.

The woman, who only speaks French, told the media through a relative that the airline changed her flight’s gate at the last minute but did not inform customers via email or text, so she did not understand the announcement made over the loudspeaker system. She also said the gate change was announced only in English and not French, so she stayed at her original gate and boarded the plane that eventually arrived in California.

Though her ticket said her final destination was Paris, attendants allowed her to board the plane for San Francisco, Bahetoukilae said.

“If they would have made the announcement in French, she would have moved gates,” Bahetoukilae’s niece, Diane Miantsoko, told New York’s ABC 7.

Even more vexing for the French-speaking woman, when she boarded the California-bound plane, she found someone already sitting in the seat marked on her ticket. And when she showed her boarding pass to a flight attendant, she was simply put in an open seat, instead of being told she boarded the wrong plane.

The mixup angered Bahetoukilae’s niece. “With everything going on this country people have to be more careful. They didn’t pay attention. My aunt could have been anyone. She could have been a terrorist and killed people on that flight,” she said.

For its part, United issued an apology to the customer:

“We deeply apologize to Ms. Bahetoukilae for this unacceptable experience,” United said in an emailed statement to Fox News. “When she arrived in San Francisco, we ensured she got on the next flight to Paris and refunded her ticket. Our customer care team has reached out to her directly to ensure we make this right. We are also working with our team in Newark to prevent this from happening again.”

United offered the customer a free flight and a full refund.

The airline’s practices exploded in controversy in April after its treatment of passenger Dr. David Dao when police bodily dragged the man off a flight when he refused to give up his seat in an overbooking incident. The airline later settled with the passenger and made changes to its overbooking practices.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at igcolonel@hotmail.com.


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