Elderly Michigan couple returns home after boarding wrong flight at FLL

FORT LAUDERDALE-HOLLYWOOD INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, FLA. (WSVN) - A Michigan couple in their late 90s finally made it to their final destination after an airline put them on the wrong flight in Fort Lauderdale.

It’s been a long, strange trip for Helen Wheeker and her husband George Nobel. They arrived home in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Saturday night, but not before dealing with a nightmare airline story for the ages.

“We didn’t necessarily want to do all that traveling,” said Nobel.

Wheeker, 97, and Nobel went to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on Thursday and booked a flight home after visiting relatives in Davie.

But Michigan would have to wait. They boarded an Allegiant flight that took them to upstate New York instead.

“The man on the plane said, ‘Somehow you got on the wrong plane,'” said Nobel.

The airline is taking the blame. “An employee went and got them, and at the same time, there was a glitch with the scanning device that they used to scan boarding passes,” said Allegiant Airlines spokesperson Hilarie Grey. “There was obviously some human error there as well. Obviously, we can’t apologize enough.”

“The captain or whoever it was said, ‘Something terrible has happened. You’re on the wrong plane. You’re in New York.’ And I laughed,'” said Wheeker.

The couple said they were bored out of their minds, sitting on that plane for hours — first to Ogdensburg, N.Y., then back to Lauderdale with just some crackers to eat.

Wheeker said she got a consolation prize from the cockpit. “The pilot was drop dead handsome, and I remember when I was young enough to be excited about that, so that woke me up a little bit,” she said.

They had to stay an extra in night in South Florida but finally got on a flight home on Saturday — the right flight — to Grand Rapids. “We’ve enjoyed being there, and we’ve enjoyed being here,” said Nobel, “but I think we’re gonna stay in Michigan from now on. Our travel days are over.”

Wheeker and Nobel’s relatives said the couple spent their winters in Broward County. That is, until now. The snow birds told 7News they had already decided this was going to be their last South Florida winter.

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