Flight mix-up puts elderly couple in the wrong city but not bad mood

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A 96-year-old woman and her 89-year-old husband are back safe and sound in Grand Rapids after an airline mix-up sent them from Florida to New York and back to Florida before finally taking them home.

It’s been quite a ride for these two snowbirds based in Jenison.

But despite the hassle and the worried kids and grandkids, Helen and George say this incident shows you’re never too old for a new experience.

“I call this our most exciting adventure,” said 96-year-old Helen Wheeker.

Relatives dropped off Helen and George at the Fort Lauderdale airport on Wednesday just as they always do as the couple goes back and forth between homes in Jenison and Florida.

But instead, the couple ended up on a flight that took them to someplace called Ogdensburg, New York, 520 miles from Grand Rapids — on the border of Canada.

“If it was New York City, Well, that’d be cool,” said Helen.

Officials with Allegiant Airlines blame the mix-up on a bad ticket scanner that rerouted the couple to the wrong flight.

The tiny upstate airport goes two places — Albany and Florida. That meant Helen and George had to go back to Fort Lauderdale in order to get back to Grand Rapids

Allegiant gave Helen and George a few days and housing accommodation and tonight they flew home.

Of course their flight was late. Helen said she couldn’t believe it at first.

“The captain came and looked at us over the back of the chair and he says ‘something terrible has happened” and I said what? And he said you’re on the wrong plane and I laughed,” said Helen.

George, her 89-year-old husband said it was hard to believe.

“When you get on and you know you’re going to Grand Rapids and you end up in New York,” George says through a hardy laugh.

But Helen is not at all angry at the airline, instead singing their praises, saying the airline treated them well.

“How many people very close to 100 get to do this stuff?” she said.

But before any more adventures…

“Before we do this again, a couple naps,” Helen said

George is done for now.

“But I think we’re gonna stay in Jenison from now on, our travel days are over,” George said.

As this story has gone around the world, Helen says she is enjoying the notoriety and is ready to sign autographs.

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