A Greek man who was booked to fly on the doomed Ethiopian Airlines plane but lived to tell the tale says he missed the flight “by two minutes”.
“I missed it by two minutes, when I arrived, the boarding was closed and I watched the last passengers go in – I screamed to put me in but they didn’t allow it,” Antonis Mavropoulos wrote on Facebook, in a post titled “my lucky day”.
All 157 people on board the Boeing 737 Max 8 were killed when the plane crashed shortly after take-off from Addis Ababa on Sunday.
Mr Mavropoulos, who lives in Athens, missed the Nairobi-bound flight because an attendant who accompanied him to the airport had arrived late.
10 ΜΑΡΤΙΟΥ 2019 – Η ΤΥΧΕΡΗ ΜΟΥ ΜΕΡΑΤρέχοντας να προλάβω την πτήση ΕΤ 302 Αντίς Αμπέμπα – Ναϊρόμπι, που συνετρίβη 6…
He said he was put on the next flight but “intensely protested, because there was enough time for me to board and make my flight”, he wrote.
Then security officers pulled him aside and one “told me gently not to protest and thank God instead”, informing him of the crash.
Officials told Mr Mavropoulos he was the only passenger who had not boarded the doomed Max 8.
“This was why they can’t let me go, until I determine who I am,” he said.
“At first I thought he was lying, but his style left no margin of doubt.”
On Monday, Mr Mavropoulos told Greek broadcaster Skai that he was coming to terms with his narrow escape.
“I should see it as a second chance,” he said.
“On the other hand, I’m also very upset — I’m shattered — for those who were lost.
“To be honest, I didn’t get much sleep last night.”
After learning about the tragedy, Mr Mavropoulos scrambled to inform friends and family that he was not on the plane. He wrote his emotional Facebook post to “bring my feelings under control”.
“I realised that I must immediately contact my own people and tell them that I was not in and that, for two small random circumstances, I lost the flight,” he said.
“The moment I made that thought, I collapsed because then exactly I realised how lucky I stood.
Later he said, he was grateful to be alive.
“Maybe not too old to rock’n’roll – but certainly too young to die.”