Airport gate error leads to woman landing at wrong location

Diane Saffer has a travel nightmare after she lands at the wrong airport. (Photo: WJLA)

Diane Saffer's trip across the country unexpectedly took as long as a trip to the other side of the world.

On a tight connecting flight into Newark Airport, Saffer made a mad dash to her Reagan National gate. She says she ran from one end of the airport to the other. She says when she got to the gates, one said “Reagan” while the other said “Syracuse, N.Y.”

Saffer says she handed her ticket to a United gate agent, who waived her on without scanning her ticket. They looked at it and said go.

But when she got to her seat, it was taken. She gave the attendant her ticket and asked if she was on the right plane. She was told she was.

It wasn't until Saffer's plane was about to land that she looked out her plane's window and experienced a moment she will never forget.

“I don't see the monuments. I don't see anything. All of a sudden I started shaking,” she says. “(I) said to myself, ‘there's something wrong.’ That's when the pilot said welcome to Syracuse. And then I went Bonkers.“

And that got the flight attendant's attention.

“They said, ‘Oh My God. Just sit here we'll get security to get you off,’" she says.

But there were no more connecting flights to D.C. that night and surrounding hotels were all booked.

“They gave me a $10 voucher but no restaurants were open,” she says. “I slept in an airport all by myself all night with cleaning people.”

After 7 On Your Side became involved, the airline provided Saffer with a $250 voucher.

In a statement, United says it has apologized to Saffer.

United Statement: Walking down a jet-bridge that serves two different United Express partner aircraft, Ms. Saffer mistakenly boarded a flight to Syracuse, and apparently did not hear the three separate flight-verification announcements that confirm the flight’s destination. We have reached out to Ms. Saffer to apologize for the confusion and offered a gesture of goodwill.

Back home now, Saffer says she wants United to apologize and learn a lesson from her switch-up snafu. She says the staff should be focused on ensuring that passengers are put on the correct plane.

“After coming home from vacation I felt I needed another vacation for my ordeal,” she says.

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