Ben Gurion Airport authorities on Sunday discovered in the departure terminal a 3-year-old girl whose parents had accidentally left her behind when they boarded their flight to Paris.
The parents were identified in a computer check, but they did not respond to calls over the loudspeaker.
Police officers accompanied the girl to the boarding gate, where they realized the plane had already taken off to Paris. Authorities made contact with the pilot and learned that the girl's parents and four siblings were on the plane.
The girl was flown to Paris later Sunday, accompanied by a flight attendant.
Her family did not realize she was missing until the captain of Sun D'Or flight U52872 informed them 45 minutes after takeoff that she had been found. They were the last passengers to board the plane, and it appears that in their haste, they forgot the girl and the stewards did not check that the number of tickets matched up with the number of children.
"I simply don't know how this happened to them," said the girl's grandmother, who took the family to the airport. "We're in shock. They're very responsible and organized, top-notch people. Apparently each one relied on the other and this is what happened."
An airport police officer found the girl - alone, in tears and searching for her parents. She was put on the next El Al flight to Paris about two hours later, accompanied by a stewardess.
"The incident is being examined, and it's still not clear to us either," said Sun D'Or CEO Bezalel Karvat. The airline is an El Al subsidiary.
The policeman who found the girl brought her to the office of Sarit Ben-Eden, the police official in charge of the departure hall.
"The policeman saw the girl wandering around near one of the counters, crying," said Ben-Eden. "In my office too, she was upset, crying, and asked over and over again for daddy and mommy."
After about 10 minutes, the girl calmed down enough to tell Ben-Eden her parents' names. Ben-Eden had them called over the loudspeaker, but they didn't show up. Then she realized the flight had already issued its final boarding call, and she ran with the girl toward the gate. But by they time they arrived, the plane had already taken off without her.
Ben-Eden bought the girl some ice cream, by which time she was calm enough to let her know that she only eats food with a Badatz kashrut certification.
Haaretz last week reported that an 8-year-old boy traveling unaccompanied was flown by El Al Israel Airlines from Ben-Gurion Airport to Brussels instead of to his destination in Munich, Haaretz has learned.
The mistake was only discovered when his relatives, waiting for him in Munich, saw that he did not land and called Israel.
After the incident, which occurred about two weeks ago, El Al investigated and took disciplinary action against those responsible, including the sacking of a ground attendant.
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