Recently, I wrote about the Wisconsin man who sued Southwest Airlines for exactly $74,999.99 after his plane landed at the wrong airport in Branson, Missouri–about seven miles away from where they were supposed to be.
I thought it was a smart legal strategy (because suing for that amount meant the case will be heard in state court, not federal), and a good example of how a little guy can negotiate effectively against a much larger adversary.
But some readers seized on it all as an example of a frivolous lawsuit–something that can keep business leaders awake at night.
So, I wonder how they’ll feel about this story–involving not just one, but 34 airline passengers, who were accidentally put on the wrong plane and sent 600 miles away from their intended definition.
It happened Monday in Sweden, where bad weather caused an airline called Nextjet canceled a flight from Sundsvall, which is in central Sweden, to Gothenburg, which is on the west coast of the country.
Flight cancelations happen all the time, But here, Nextjet apparently never told the passengers who were waiting for their flight to Gothenburg, according to the English language Swedish news site, The Local.
The last they’d heard was that their flight was delayed. So when a 50-seat plane rolled up, the boarded–and were flown, by mistake, to the city of Lulea, which is in the far north of Sweden and about 600 miles away from Gothenburg.
In terms of distance, that’s kind of like boarding a plane to Atlanta, only to land and find out you’ve been brought to Washington, D.C. instead. (Map embedded at the end of this article.
Some passengers who were actually booked on the flight and supposed to go to Lulea were told that their flight had been canceled, and wound up stuck in the airport in Sundsvall. A man who was on the mixed-up flight said that none of his fellow passengers who flew to Lulea actually intended to go there.
“What seems to have happened is a serious communication error between the airport in Sundsvall and us,” a Nextjets spokesperson told the Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet (in Swedish, but Google Translate works pretty well).
He said the passengers were put up in a hotel and flown on to Gothenburg the next day. Meantime, airport officials in Sundsvall were unamused.
“We had not learned anything about this before the plane lifted. Something has gone wrong when you failed to provide airport information,” the airport operations manager said. “During my 16 years, I’ve never [seen] like something like that.”
Readers might be struck by the reaction of the passengers, however–especially in contrast to the story we just saw about the man who sued Southwest.
Granted, it’s only one day after the mishap, and granted the Swedish newspaper didn’t interview everyone on board the plane. Maybe some passengers are really upset.
But not passenger Roger Leirvik, who apparently lives in Gothenburg and was in Sundsvall for a one-day business trip. And so far, there’s no mention in any of the coverage of anybody suing anyone.
“I just laughed. What can you do?” Leirvik told Aftonbladet.
Is it a matter of Sweden versus America? Is the Southwest passenger in the other story just radically out of step? Let us know what you think in the comments.