Help! JetBlue Let Me Get On The Wrong Plane!

All our lives we’d been walking around with the mistaken impression that when they scanned your boarding pass at the gate, they were making sure you were getting on the right plane. We assumed this for two reasons: 1) Because an airport isn’t like a movie theater, where you can buy a ticket for a G-rated movie and go see “Killer Naked Women From Planet Sex And Violence.” 2) To prevent people from accidentally ending up in New York when they were trying to get to Long Beach, CA.

Our friend, travel expert Christopher Elliott has opened our eyes this morning with the story of Wendy Watkins. She was scheduled to fly from Oakland to Southern California, but accidentally boarded an nearly identical-looking flight to New York. Her flight was scheduled to leave a 1:00 pm from Gate 9, the New York flight left at 1:00 pm from Gate 9a.

How could this happen? How could JetBlue scan Wendy’s boarding pass and not notice that she was on the wrong flight?


I went to what I thought was my gate, and waited for them to call my boarding class. When the line died down I walked up to the ticketing area, gave them my ticket, they ’scanned’ it, and gave me back my half.

I then got on the plane and off we went. About a half hour into the flight I looked down at the landscape and thought it looked a little odd. I took my ticket out and the lady next to me looked at it and said, “That’s not good, this flight it going to New York.”

I couldn’t believe it! How was I able to get on this flight? They took my ticket and supposedly scanned it but still let me on the flight.

I guess where I got confused was the fact that there was a gate 9 and 9a and they were both leaving at 1 p.m. I didn’t even think twice about it. Also, the ladies next to me said that it was weird how they never mentioned that we were taking off to New York, like they usually do. It was a string of unfortunate events.

JetBlue flew her back, but is unwilling to offer additional compensation because it was “human error.” Wendy also says the supervisor she spoke to was condescending and rude. Hey JetBlue, can’t you do a little bit better? Yes, she made a mistake, but in this case, human error was a two-way street.

“The worst travel experience I’ve ever had” [Elliott]