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Woman flew 900 miles in wrong direction on Frontier Airlines flight due to last-minute gate change

A woman who had booked a flight to Florida accidentally ended up 900 miles away in Jamaica without her passport after boarding the wrong plane.

Beverly Ellis-Hebard is no stranger to her intended route between Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Jacksonville Florida. She regularly travels back and forth between her homes in the two cities, flying “once every six weeks”, she told ABC 7.

She doesn’t bring her passport as it’s not required to travel internally in the US.

On 6 November, she arrived at the gate for her Frontier Airlines flight to Jacksonville International Airport and saw that it read “PHL to JAX”. Ms Ellis-Hebard, who was recovering from back surgery and unable to move as fast as usual, asked staff if she had time to use the toilet before boarding.

She was told that she had “about 20 minutes”, but on returning she found the flight was almost boarded and the gate about to close.

As Ms Ellis-Hebard went to board, a staff member at the gate questioned the size of her bag, so she put it in the baggage sizer.

“I put it in and when I went to take it out my arm right here got all scrapped up. I was bleeding,” she said.

She added that the gate agent then rushed her to board.

“She said ‘come on, come on. Give me your boarding pass’. I would say I took about 10 steps, and she said ‘are you Beverly Ellis-Hebard?’. I said ‘you just had my boarding pass. You just checked me in. Yes’. She said ‘All right, go. Go’.”

After the rush to board the plane, crew tending to her scrape told her she’d be able to relax once they landed – in Jamaica.

She recalled laughing when told this: “I said, ‘I would love to be going there but I have a beach where I live’. She said, ‘look at me, this plane is going to Jamaica’. And I knew by the look on her face she wasn’t joking.”

Ms Ellis-Hebard was told there had been a last-minute gate change, and realised it took place while she was in the bathroom. She said she was told: “You’re entering a different country without a passport. That’s bad.”

Jamaican authorities allowed Ms Ellis-Hebard to remain in the air bridge, and the crew stayed with her until the next flight to Philadelphia took off several hours later.

She said: “It should never have happened because I did not have a passport. The woman at the gate did not do her job.”

A spokesperson for Frontier Airlines told The Independent: “We sincerely regret that the customer was able to board the wrong flight and have extended our apologies. We have provided her with a refund and compensation as well as addressed the matter with airport personnel.”

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