The Time I Boarded the Wrong Plane

With airports supposedly a model of organisation, checking in, passing through security, reaching your gate and being cleared to board the correct plane is a walk in the park, right? Um, well actually…

Flying over Africa
Whoops, wrong plane.

I was travelling with Roberto, my boss in Portland Oregon, to Burbank California, where our other company office was. We’d collected our boarding passes and passed through security, and now it was time to board our flight.

Now, there is a section of Portland airport for smaller jets. It’s basically one big gate, and the way it works is that you actually have to walk outside onto the tarmac to board your flight. There are several planes all sitting there waiting in bays, and when you show your boarding pass at the gate, they tell you which bay your plane is waiting at. I think they told us to walk to Bay C.

So, Roberto and I were chit-chatting about business, about the weather, about this-and-that, and a smiling member of cabin crew greeted us at the steps leading up to our plane. We clambered aboard and Roberto found his seat towards the front of the plane, while my seat was at the rear of the plane.

However there was just one problem- my seat had somebody else in it. “Excuse me, I think you’re in my seat,” I said, showing my boarding stub. But the man showed me his boarding stub, and it had the same seat number on it. “No problem,” I said, “they must have double-booked the seat. I’ll get the stewardess.”

But when the stewardess arrived, she looked worried. “Where are you travelling to?” she asked.
“Burbank,” I replied.
“Burbank? This plane is going to Ottawa.”

Too taken aback to be embarrassed, I realised that we were about to fly to the WRONG FREAKING COUNTRY. (Not that there’s anything wrong with Canada, of course…)

“Roberto!” I yelled from the rear of the plane. “Get up mate, we’re on the wrong bloody plane!”

I’m not sure if it was my Australian accent or what I actually said, but for some reason at that moment the whole plane erupted with raucous laughter. Embarrassment now setting in, Roberto and I gave a little bow at the front of the plane before hastily disembarking and finding the correct plane just across the tarmac in the adjacent bay. The planes must have radioed each other, because when we went up the steps into our actual plane, the stewardesses said something like “Welcome to the right plane!” and the whole plane gave us a round of applause as we boarded.

Flying over New Zealand's South Island
“Hang on a second- where are we?”

Arriving in Burbank an hour later, we remarked how lucky we’d been that somebody was actually in the seat I tried to sit in, because if not, my boss and I would have taken an unexpected vacation. Whoops.

Has anything like this ever happened to you? Or am I just a prize buffoon?


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Matt Edwards

Australian solar power scientist travels the world for 15 years, takes photos, writes stuff, has toothpaste confiscated. I like adventures that involve art, history, science, music, technology and partying. Sometimes all at once...


One thought on “The Time I Boarded the Wrong Plane” :: Leave yours →

  • June 30, 2014 at 9:15 pm

    I did see a story couple weeks back about a guy flying to Grenada in the Carribean instead of Granada Spain…

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