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Passenger who thought she was traveling to Paris, lands in San Francisco

San Francisco Chronicle logo San Francisco Chronicle 5/05/2017 Hearst Newspapers
United Airlines plane at Boeing on Kelly Field, photographed Wednesday May 8, 2013. © Helen L. Montoya, San Antonio Express-News United Airlines plane at Boeing on Kelly Field, photographed Wednesday May 8, 2013.

A United Airlines passenger boarded a plane in Newark believing that she was headed to Paris. Hours later, the plane touched down at San Francisco International Airport (SFO). 

Lucie Bahetoukilae, a French woman who does not speak English, carried a boarding pass that read, "Newark to Charles de Gaulle," reports ABC 7. She approached the gate listed on the pass, where a flight attendant scanned her ticket before she boarded the plane.

With her niece acting as translator, Bahetoukilae recalled approaching her seat – 22C – only to find it already occupied. Bahetoukilae said the flight attendant came over to look at her boarding pass before assigning her a new seat. 

Three thousand miles later, Bahetoukilae disembarked at SFO, where she reportedly waited an additional 11 hours before boarding a flight back to Paris. In total, she claims to have been traveling for 28 hours.

Bahetoukilae said she did not realize that the airline had changed her flight's boarding gate. She told ABC that United did not make a gate announcement in French or notify her by email. 

United gave Bahetoukilae a flight voucher and said they were "working with their team in Newark to prevent this from happening again."

The airline has repeatedly made headlines in past weeks, most notably for an incident in which a passenger was dragged from a flight.

"This is not about money," Bahetoukilae's told ABC, "This is about United getting serious with their employees."

Read Michelle Robertson’s latest stories and send her news tips at mrobertson@sfchronicle.com

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