After mistaken journey, Allegiant Air great-grandparents to return on Saturday

Great-grandparents gets wheeled onto wrong flight in Fort Lauderdale

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The great-grandparents who planned to fly from Fort Lauderdale to see family in Michigan and instead found themselves at a tiny airport on the New York-Ontario border, were set to come back on Saturday. 

"We were looking forward to a 5 o'clock arrival," Helen Wheeker, 96, said.

Wheeker and her husband, George Nobel, 89, said they were booked on a Wednesday afternoon flight on Allegiant Air to Grand Rapids, Michigan. They live part-time in Davie and part-time near Grand Rapids.

When they were pushed in wheelchairs through Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International airport, they ended up at a neighboring gate. And ended up on the wrong flight.

Wheeker and Nobel would instead fly to Ogdensburg, New York.

"We were all upset," Nobel's son, Mark Nobel, told Local 10 News. "Where [are] they at? I mean, they're flying around the country somewhere."

Wheeker said she initially didn't think much of the flight since it was about the same length as their usual flight to Michigan.

"We had a typical day on the plane, reading, snacking and dozing," she said.

Allegiant Air spokeswoman Hilarie Grey said there was a boarding pass scanner malfunction, which did not pick up that the couple was boarding the wrong flight.

"They sounded like they were in good spirits," Mark Nobel said. "They were a little upset that they wanted to go home."

The pair decided to take a flight right back to Fort Lauderdale and plan to head to Michigan on another flight.

Grey said Allegiant Air apologized for the mistake. Wheeker and Nobel have been re-booked on a Saturday flight and have been given a full refund.

About the Authors:

Janine Stanwood joined Local 10 News in February 2004 as an assignment editor. She is now a general assignment reporter. Before moving to South Florida from her Washington home, Janine was the senior legislative correspondent for a United States senator on Capitol Hill.