Ryanair Passenger Boards Wrong Flight – Lands Hundreds of Miles From Destination

May 23, 2019

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An Italian passenger flying European ultra low-cost carrier Ryanair with a ticket to Cagliari, Italy somehow managed to board a flight to Bari Italy, landing hundreds of miles from his ticketed destination.

The incident began during boarding at Pisa airport, also in Italy. It is unclear exactly how the mishap happened though as both flights required passengers to walk across the tarmac from the terminal to the aircraft, the man may have simply walked to the wrong plane.

The passenger has launched an online tirade against the airline claiming he should not have been able to board the wrong plane in the first place. Numerous crew announcements would have been made about the flight and its destination during both the boarding and taxi process but the passenger may not have heard or been listening to them.

Had the plane been full as many Ryanair flights are (they have one of the highest average passenger loads of any European airline) there would have already been another passenger allocated to his seat and any crew member comparing the two boarding passes would have immediately realised one of the passengers was on the wrong flight.

According to CNN the passenger only realised he was on the wrong flight upon seeing the scenery on descent and noticing it was different to his intended destination. He then became angry to the crew for allowing him to board and fly the wrong flight.

Ryanair has apologised for the incident saying “We have asked the operator in charge of ground assistance services for Ryanair planes and passengers at the Pisa airport to shed light on this case and make sure it does not happen again.”

Is it possible to board the wrong plane?

In theory and with today’s technology, no. There are numerous checks of passengers tickets and the number of passengers on board during the boarding process. While it may have been possible to walk to the wrong plane across a tarmac, many airlines check boarding passes of each passenger when they board the plane itself, both to direct them to their seat, especially for planes with more than one aisle, and to check passengers are on the correct plane.

You may also see crew walking through the plane once boarding is complete (but before the plane takes off) counting the number of passengers onboard, sometimes using a hand operated tally counter. It is essential the number of passengers onboard match the number of passengers on the flight manifest for several reasons:

  • The weights and balances calculated must be correct in order for the pilot to safely take off
  • If anything were to happen to the plane, the airline must have an accurate list of the passengers onboard
  • The airline must ensure each passenger gets to their correct destination

In reality however, any process involving human interaction, there is the chance that mistakes can be made and in this case a number of human errors on both the passenger and crews sides appears to have led to this incident occurring.

Featured image by Shutterstock

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