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United Airlines apologizes after sending woman to San Francisco instead of Paris

Business Insider Australia logo Business Insider Australia 8/05/2017 Cadie Thompson
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Video provided by Wochit news

A United Airlines passenger thought she was going to Paris, but instead ended up flying about 3,000 miles in the wrong direction.

The passenger, Lucie Bahetoukilae, was travelling from Newark, New Jersey, to Paris on April 24, but she ended up in San Francisco even though her ticket clearly stated "Newark to Charles de Gaulle."

Bahetoukilae, who only speaks French, went to the gate number that was on her boarding pass, had her ticket scanned by the agent, and then proceeded to board the plane, according to a report from WABC-TV. However, because Bahetoukilae does not speak English, she did not know that the gate for her flight to Paris had changed.

United Passenger Lucie Bahetoukilae © Provided by Business Insider Inc United Passenger Lucie Bahetoukilae

After Bahetoukilae boarded the plane, she noticed someone in her seat, so she handed her ticket to a flight attendant who directed her to a new seat.

Once in San Francisco, Bahetoukilae had to endure an 11-hour layover before boarding a new flight back to Paris, according to the report. Altogether, she ended up spending about 28 hours in transit.

"We deeply apologise to Ms. Bahetoukilae for this unacceptable experience. When she arrived in San Francisco we ensured she got on the next flight to Paris and refunded her ticket," the airline said in a statement to Business Insider. "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 has come under fire following the forcible removal of passenger David Dao, a 69-year-old doctor.

On April 9, Dao was dragged off flight 3411 by Chicago Aviation police officers after refusing to give up his seat on the plane. A fellow passenger recorded the incident and the video quickly went viral.

The video sparked public outrage, not only against United, but against the airline industry in general for its practice of overbooking seats and its treatment of passengers.

Last week, congressmen on the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee grilled United CEO Oscar Munoz and other airline leaders about how they plan to improve their customer service policies in the wake of the United incident.

United and Delta vowed to offer passengers as much as $US10,000 to give up their seat on an overbooked flight, and Southwest Airlines pledged to end the practice of overbooking completely.

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