Ryanair passenger boards Leeds to Paris flight and wakes up in Alicante 

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An investigation has begun after a Ryanair passenger intending to fly to Paris inadvertently boarded the wrong flight and ended up in Alicante, Spain. The passenger involved claims she was not challenged at any stage which allowed her to board the wrong flight and end up over 1,000 miles (1,600km) from her ticketed destination. 

The passenger, Jem Maybank, a 30-year-old property worker from West Yorkshire in the UK, arrived at Leeds-Bradford Airport (LBA) on June 22, 2024, for a short weekend break in Paris, France. She was booked to fly on Ryanair flight FR3579 to Paris-Beauvais Airport (BVA) which was due to depart from LBA at 06:00 local time.  

However, due to a series of mishaps, the passenger reportedly found her way onto FR9079 heading to Alicante Airport (ALC) in Spain, departing at 06:10, with both Boeing 737 aircraft parked alongside each other on the apron at LBA.    

Investigating how the unfortunate event unfolded, Maybank told the airline that she had arrived at the airport early on the day of departure and had proceeded through security at the airport without any issues. Maybank did however later tell reporters that she felt “in a disoriented headspace at the airport” due to the early start.  

“I had a bit of a mad holiday rush,” said Maybank. “I was looking for the gate to Paris-Beauvais. I saw it was Gate 6 or something, but this was from a distance away,” she added. 


Ryanair expects that even if there is an economic downturn, its low-cost model will protect it from financial strain
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She then proceeded to what she believed to be the correct departure gate where her boarding card was checked by Ryanair ground staff. This is despite her being at the gate for the Alicante flight (Gate 8).  

“The staff scanned my boarding pass and the QR code, and they did read it. They just let me straight through the gate,” Maybank said.  

The first indication that should have warned her that something was not quite right was when she first boarded the plane and discovered that her assigned seat (34A) did not exist in the plane’s cabin. While the Alicante flight was to be operated by a 737-800, the Paris flight was to be flown by a longer 737 Max 8 which does feature a row 34.    

“I had seat 34A and this didn’t exist. I showed it to a member of the cabin crew, and I said, ‘Can you help me because I don’t have a seat’,” Maybank said. 

According to the passenger, having raised the issue with the cabin crew on the flight, she was assured that “sometimes that happens when we switch the aircraft around, but luckily there’s a no-show today.” 

With Maybank assigned another seat instead and the problem seemingly resolved, she settled into her seat for her short flight to Paris. Maybank later told the airline that she had not paid attention to any of the onboard announcements at the start of the flight, which may have also alerted her to the fact she was on the wrong plane.  

“I couldn’t really hear the announcements. They must have done one saying, ‘this flight goes to Alicante’ but I didn’t hear it,” she said. 

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Maybank said that she found the flight twice as long as expected but attributed it to inflight turbulence and fell asleep shortly after take-off. It wasn’t until she woke up to the sight of palm trees, sea, and mountains out her window that she realized that Paris looked rather different from what she was expecting and that she might be somewhere else.  

Upon landing, Maybank waited until all other passengers had disembarked before notifying the Ryanair crew that there had been some sort of error.   

“I waited until everyone got off the plane and was like ‘Hey, so, I’m not meant to be here, I’m meant to be in Paris,” she stated. 

Ryanair staff, who were also confused by the whole incident, reportedly took pity on Maybank’s plight and swiftly arranged for her to catch the next available flight to Paris from Alicante free of charge later that same day.  

Maybank is still unsure how everything happened, though she speculated she might have misread Gate 6 as Gate 8 back at LBA where her European odyssey first started.  

“I don’t know how it happened. Maybe the gate number changed while I was waiting,” she recalled. “The number 6 looks quite similar to the number 8 from a distance too, so I think that’s what happened.” 

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