Passenger reveals he missed doomed Ethiopian Airlines flight by two minutes
Antonis Mavropoulos says he argued with staff after being turned away from boarding gate
A Greek man has described how he narrowly missed the Ethiopian Airlines plane that crashed near Addis Ababa on Sunday, in a Facebook post titled “My lucky day”.
Antonis Mavropoulos, who lives in Athens, was turned away from the boarding gate for the flight to Kenyan capital Nairobi after arriving two minutes late. He says he was delayed after an airport employee who was meant to guide him from a connecting flight failed to show up in time.
The plane, a new Boeing 737 Max 8, crashed six minutes after taking off, killing all 157 people on board. The victims are from more than 30 countries, including 32 Kenyans and 18 Canadians, reports the BBC. At least nine Britons are confirmed to have died.
Mavropoulos, president of the non-profit International Solid Waste Association, was due to catch the flight to Kenya to attend an environmental conference, after changing planes in the Ethiopian capital.
Following his lucky escape, he told Greek media: “I didn’t check my suitcase, because I knew the gap between connecting flights was tight.
“If I had checked the bag in, they would have waited for me. This is a very difficult moment - one that can change your life.”
However, he admits he was very angry at the time.
In his Facebook post, which has been viewed thousands of times, Mavropoulos wrote: “When I arrived, boarding was closed and I watched the last passengers in (the) tunnel go in. I screamed to put me in but they didn’t allow it.”
CNN reports that he was transferred to the next flight to Nairobi, but was later blocked from boarding because security “wanted to talk with him after discovering the plane had lost contact”.
A security staff member “told me gently not to protest and say thank you to God, because I am the only passenger who did not enter the flight”, Mavropoulos wrote.
He said that he was “slowly coming to terms with what happened” and was “very upset” about those who lost their lives in the crash.
“To be honest, I didn’t get much sleep last night,” he said, adding that a number of his colleagues travelling to the conference were on board.
Another man, Dubai resident Ahmed Khalid, has told how he also missed the flight, owing to a delay on the first leg of his trip, reports the BBC.
His father, Khalid Ali Abdulrahman, had gone to greet him at the airport in Nairobi, and was asked by a security guard which flight he was waiting for, reports Abu Dhabi-based news site The National.
“I told him Ethiopia, and then he said, ‘Sorry, that one has crashed’,” he said.
His misery was ended when his son phoned to reassure him.