El Al Passenger Buys Ticket to L.A., but Ends Up in New York

Security concerns after incident exposes series of errors at national carrier.

A passenger with a ticket for an El Al flight to Los Angeles mistakenly boarded a flight to New York at Ben-Gurion International Airport, and neither he nor the crew discovered the mix-up until the plane had landed in the United States.

The incident, which occurred two weeks ago, exposed several errors: Neither ground crew checking in passengers nor ground crew at the gate noticed that the man's ticket and boarding pass were not for the New York flight. The routine comparison between the number of passengers present and the number of tickets collected on the Los Angeles and the New York flights before take-off also did not alert them to the error.

An El Al airplane in flight.

Since the passenger did not board the Los Angeles-bound flight, his luggage was removed from that plane as security regulations require, but El Al did not realize he had boarded another flight instead.

Flights are frequently delayed when passengers are late or do not show up for their flight, and their luggage must be taken off the plane.

El Al said: "A preliminary investigation reveals that due to the strike at the airport that day, there was a gate change a short time before take-off, which apparently was the reason for the error. The passenger's luggage was removed in keeping with security regulations."

This is not the first time such a mishap has taken place on an El Al flight. In July 2008, an 8-year-old boy who was to have flown to Munich as an unaccompanied minor was put on a flight to Brussels by mistake. The error was revealed only when his grandparents, who were waiting for him in Munich, reported that he had not disembarked. El Al investigated the incident and found shortcomings, and fired the ground attendant who had put him on the wrong plane.