A 4-year-old girl from Afula was left alone at Ben-Gurion International Airport yesterday while her parents and five siblings moved to Paris without her.
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 incident comes a few days after an 8-year-old boy traveling alone got on an El Al flight to Brussels instead of Munich, where his grandparents were waiting for him. Two weeks before that, a 10-year-old boy was left at Ben-Gurion airport while the rest of his group got on a Turkish Airline flight to Copenhagen.
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.