A lost suitcase ended up saving a man’s life as it prevented him from boarding a flight which crashed and killed everyone on board.
Antonis Mavropoulos was set to board flight ET302 yesterday (March 10), travelling from Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, to Nairobi in Kenya.
Just six minutes after taking off, the flight crashed near the town of Bishoftu, killing 149 passengers and eight crew members in the deadliest aviation disaster in Ethiopia’s history.
Antonis would have been the 150th passenger to board, but he was running late after spending 40 minutes looking for a suitcase which had gone missing on an earlier leg of his journey.
The Greek man took to Facebook to share his story, where he explained boarding had finished when he arrived at the gate, though he could still see the last of the passengers getting on the plane.
He wrote (translated)
I was mad because there was no one to help me go fast.
When I arrived [at the gate], the boarding was closed and I watched the last passengers in the tunnel go in – I screamed to put me on but they didn’t allow it.
Antonis was booked on a later flight and transferred to a lounge while he waited. However, when he went to board the second flight, two security officers informed him that he had to remain at the airport.
The father protested, but he was then led to the airport police department where an officer told him ‘not to protest and say thank you to God’, because he had narrowly avoided boarding the doomed flight.
Officials had to question Antonis to check his identity and find out why he hadn’t boarded the flight. He described how at first he thought the officer was lying, but it soon became clear he had made an incredible escape.
Antonis learned from friends that flight ET302, which was expected to travel for two hours, had never landed in Nairobi and had crashed minutes after takeoff.
Accident Bulletin no. 3
Issued on March 10, 2019 at 4:59 PM pic.twitter.com/5UOxsbl24f
— Ethiopian Airlines (@flyethiopian) March 10, 2019
Another man, Ahmed Khalid, was traveling to the Kenyan capital to visit family members. He was coming in from the United Emirates when he missed his connecting flight in Addis Ababa because of a delay, according to Dubai-based newspaper The National.
“Everyone was asking the cabin crew what was happening, but no one was saying anything, Khalid told The National. “They were just going up and down until one of the passengers saw on his mobile that the first plane which had just flew, like six minutes after it flew, it just crashed.”
For now, Ethiopian Airlines has temporarily grounded its fleet of Boeing 737 Max 8 planes. Other airline operators have followed suit since theoperated by Lion Air crashed off Indonesia in October 2018.
Ethiopian Airlines confirmed in a tweet that both of thethe flight data and cockpit voice recorders, had been found as officials determine what caused the crash.