Man Accidentally Gets On 1,400-Mile Flight In Wrong Direction To The Arctic And Takes It In Stride

arctic iceberg

Marjorie Teo / Unsplash


Air travel can be stressful as hell for some people. Being confined to a tiny space for long periods of time without access to normal food. Sharing a bathroom with 150 strangers who treat that toilet like a trucker’s rest stop.

It can be awful.

But we all suck it up because getting on a flight for 5 hours from NYC to LAX is a lot better than spending a week in the car. And we all assume that everyone in the aviation chain of hierarchy knows what they’re doing and will get us safely to our destination.

Our job is to buy the ticket and show up on time, after that we can sit back and relax while the flight crew gets us there…right????

That wasn’t the case for a Canadian man who showed up at the airport to board a flight headed Northwest but was put on a flight headed East in the wrong direction. He ended up flying 2,300 kilometers (1429 miles) in the wrong direction to the Arctic circle.

How did this all happen? It’s 2018. How can someone get on the wrong plane when the airline industry has invested countless money to ensure that stuff like this doesn’t happen?

Here’s the explanation from the CBC:

Paetkau says when he arrived at the airport in Yellowknife the computers at the airline kiosk were down and staff were entering ticket information manually.

“I’m standing at Gate 4 and I see there was three airplanes that are sitting out there on the tarmac, and also three boarding calls happening simultaneously pretty much at Gate 4, and they’re all final calls,” he said.

After being told to wait about 15 minutes while staff sorted things out, Paetkau said he made his way back to the ticket booth where they checked his ID and the flight manifest and sent him out onto the tarmac.

“After the 15 minutes people start moving out, and I’m thinking, is this my flight? People are leaving. I need to get on this flight,” said Paetkau.

“So now I’m following like a lemming, I’m following the rest of the people who are going on this flight.”

Paetkau says he asked a flight attendant as he boarded the plane if he was on the correct plane.

“I have a funny feeling, I’m like, ‘Am I on the right flight?’ I’m not totally sure; there was a bit of chaos happening,” he said.

“Is this flight going to Inuvik? [he asked]. And she says ‘yeah eventually,'” said Paetkau.

“The woman who told me that we’d be arriving in Inuvik eventually, she felt horrible. She was like, ‘Oh my God I didn’t take you seriously, like, I thought you were joking,” he said. (via CBC)

The goddamn computers.

Imagine if we were to get hit with a Fire Sale and all of our electronics were taken down. Nobody anywhere would be getting on the correct flight because everyone would be running around like chickens with their heads cut off.

The man bound for Inuvik, Christopher Paetkau, who ended up flying 2,300 km in the wrong direction to the Arctic took it all in stride:

Paetkau said despite the mix-up, the flight crew were amazing and the airline staff did everything they could to help him.

“If I wanted to be angry at them I could be, but they did everything that they could,” he said.

“[The flight attendant] and I became basically buds. We were in the air for like 14 hours, longest flight of my life, longer than any international flight I’ve ever done,” he said. (via CBC)

I wish we could all be more like Christopher Paetkau and not lose our total shit whenever something went wrong.

I’m guilty of this on a daily basis. When things go wrong I rarely react appropriately. But it sounds like this dude knows how to not let misfortune send his life into a downward spiral and I’d like to absorb a little bit of that into my life.

For more on this story, you can check out the full article and interview over on The CBC.