Rich Thomaselli | August 05, 2016 3:30 PM ET
Whose Fault Is It That Teenager Got On Wrong Flight?
An interesting debate is playing out in the online versions of some overseas newspapers over the curious case of a teenage girl, traveling alone, who boarded the wrong flight and ended up in the wrong destination.
Whose fault is it?
Is it 16-year-old Alexandra Burt, who was returning from Copenhagen to her home in England but apparently misread the display screens and instead got on a Ryanair flight to Dublin by mistake?
Or is it Ryanair’s fault, for either misreading Burt’s boarding pass or, worse, not scanning or reading it at all and allowing her to board a flight for which she technically had no ticket?
London’s Daily Mail first reported the story of every parent’s nightmare for a child traveling alone. Burt arrived early to the Copenhagen airport for her flight to Luton, England, but when she saw the Ryanair name and symbol on a screen at her gate, assumed it was her flight. It was actually a flight traveling to Ireland.
As chance would have it, nobody disputed her seat on the low-budget European carrier and she fell asleep, waking up just before landing and realizing that when she saw water she wasn’t close to Luton.
“No one checked her pass at the gate in Copenhagen, they gave it a cursory glance probably to check the seat number on the plane, and clearly didn’t do a passenger count,” the teen’s mother, Ellie Renshaw, told the Daily Mall. “I am gobsmacked and absolutely fuming (and) can’t believe given the ‘heightened sense of security’ that they let this happen. I thought this was only for Hollywood movies.”
When she complained to Ryanair, Renshaw received a reply that noted “each customer's boarding card clearly states their flight number and destination,” and it is “the responsibility of every passenger to ensure they follow the correct procedure.”
That has left commenters to the Daily Mail story and New Zealand’s Stuff, which also picked up the story, split, with some blaming the girl and others blaming Ryanair.
“Customer makes the mistake and then plays the victim. Typical,” wrote one commenter.
“So only her daughter is excused from making mistakes. Hypocrite,” wrote another.
Echoed another: “The girl has to take some responsibility. She should have asked some questions. Can't always blame the airline.”
But some pointed out the obvious, regardless of who was at fault.
“Surely the point at the end of the day here, regardless of the daughters (sic) age or intent, is that RYR actually let someone board an incorrect plane,” wrote one person. “You can blame the girl all you want, and maybe you have a point, but that does not negate the fact there was a HUGE security breach on behalf of RYR.”
Added another: “An absolute key component of security is knowing who is getting on what aircraft. There is ZERO excuse for Ryanair allowing passenger (sic) on aircraft xyz to board aircraft abc. This is an inexcusable breach by this airline.”
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