Elderly couple accidentally wheeled onto wrong flight in Fort Lauderdale

Allegiant Air apologizes for mistake that sent Michigan-bound couple to New York

George Nobel and Helen Wheeker were wheeled onto the wrong flight at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. (Family Photo)

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – An elderly couple in wheelchairs received a free flight from Fort Lauderdale to New York and back after they were mistakenly wheeled onto the wrong plane.

Helen Wheeker, 97, and her husband, George Nobel, were traveling alone Wednesday, waiting to board a flight at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport to visit relatives in Michigan.

But instead of flying to Grand Rapids, Michigan, they wound up in Ogdensburg, New York.

"We didn't know what happened," grandson Dustin Meyers told WOOD-TV in Michigan. "It was a big mystery."

Allegiant Air spokeswoman Hilarie Grey told the station that there was "a glitch with our boarding pass scanner" that led to them getting on the wrong flight. Grey said the gate for the Grand Rapids flight was next to the gate for the flight to Ogdensburg.

Because the airport in Ogdensburg is so small, there wasn't a flight to take Wheeker and her husband to Grand Rapids, so Allegiant Air flew them back to South Florida.

"So imagine two elderly people in wheelchairs getting wheeled on the wrong plane, sent across the United States and then sent back," Meyers said.

Grey said Allegiant Air apologizes for the mistake and has refunded the couple. They're now anticipating flying to Michigan this weekend.

"I really didn't want to go right back where I came from," she said.

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