A Greek man has told how he was saved from the Ethiopian Airlines jet disaster because he was running just two minutes late – and demanded to be let on board.
Antonis Mavropoulos would have been the 150th passenger on board the doomed jet – which crashed and killed all 157 on board, including seven Britons – but he ended up missing flight ET302.
The dad had spent about 40 minutes looking for a suitcase that was missing after an earlier leg of his journey.
In a Facebook post entitled “My lucky day”, Mr Mavropoulos said he was “mad” and “screaming” after no-one helped him reach the departure gate before the plane’s door closed.
But he soon learned that the Boeing 737 Max 8 plane had crashed just minutes after taking off from the airport in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and the police took him in for questioning.
Like many of the victims, Mr Mavropoulos was en route to Nairobi, Kenya, to attend the annual assembly of the UN Environment Programme.
Mr Mavropoulos, president of the not-for-profit International Solid Waste Association, said he missed the plane because he was running late, and the gate closed just two minutes after he arrived.
He protested and looked through the window as passengers settled into their seats in the cabin, where he was meant to be sitting in seat 2L in business class at the front of the aircraft.
“I was screaming to put me on but they did not allow it.”
The plane took off without him on what was meant to be a two-hour journey from Addis Ababa to Nairobi, and he booked a seat on a later flight, but airport staff prevented him from boarding.
He added: “They said they couldn’t let me go before cross-checking my identity, the reason I hadn’t boarded the plane etc.”
Mr Mavropoulos said he was in a state of shock after learning he had narrowly avoided death, and realised how “lucky” he was.
He then began contacting family, including his wife and daughter, and friends to let them know that he wasn’t on board and he was still alive.