Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, tragically shot down over Ukraine Thursday with 298 people on board, could have been carrying three more — a Scottish couple and their new baby. But the family remains alive and well today thanks to what at first looked like another instance of a common problem with airlines these days: overbooking.
Barry Sim, his wife Izzy, and their young baby were supposed to fly from Amsterdam, the Netherlands, to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on the ill-fated flight Thursday. But when it came time to get on the plane, they were told that the flight had run out of room. There were not enough seats left to accommodate the small family.
So the Sim family switched their flight to the Dutch airline KLM and took off a few hours later for what turned out to be a thankfully uneventful journey.
“There must have been someone watching over us and saying ‘You must not get on that flight,’” said Izzy Sim, interviewed after learning of the disastrous fate that befell the flight she could easily have taken, had it not been for the often annoying airline habit of selling too many tickets for individual flights. “We are very loyal to Malaysia Airlines and we always want to fly with Malaysia Airlines.”
Izzy went on to say that in normal circumstances, her husband is not a fan of flying on KLM.
“But do you know what? At this moment we are so glad to be on that KLM flight rather than that Malaysia Airlines flight,” she said.
Barry Sim said he felt queasy upon hearing that his original flight, Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, had been shot down, killing everyone on board.
“You get this sick feeling in the pit of your stomach. We started getting butterflies. Your heartbeat starts going,” he said.
So far nine citizens of Great Britain are known to have been flying on Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17. There were also 28 Australians, according to reports. But an Australian couple also said that they, by chance, opted out of the doomed flight.
“We flew into Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam on the MH17 flight, the day before, so it’s a bit surreal to think that, you know, one day later and I wouldn’t be standing here talking to you right now,” said Simone LaPosta, who with her husband Juan Jovel chose to leave Holland a day ahead of schedule, to avoid jet lag when they returned to work.
She said the showed up at the airport with standby tickets, and came just minutes away from being shut out of their early flight — which would have forced the newlyweds to take their original Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17.