At 8:38 AM on Sunday, March 10th, Flight 302 took off from Addis Ababa Bole International Airport. Six minutes later, it lost contact with the ground. All 157 people on board were killed when the plane crashed as the result of unforeseen technical difficulties.
There was, however, supposed to be one other person on board. Antonis Mavropoulos arrived just one minute late to the flight and was denied entry. A few hours later, he would find out that running late that day was the luckiest break of his entire life.
Mavropoulos told his story, entitled "my lucky day," on Facebook:
Translated into English, Mavropoulos wrote about everything that had to go "wrong" for him to miss the doomed flight:
"Running to catch flight et 302 Addis Ababa - Nairobi, which crashed 6 minutes after taking off, I had my nerves because there was no one to help me go fast. I lost it for two minutes, when I arrived, the boarding was closed and I watched the last passengers in tunnel go in - I screamed to put me in but they didn't allow it. In fact, the flight lost it because I didn't give a suitcase (otherwise they would expect me for 10-15 minutes or more, because finding a suitcase loaded wants at least 40 minutes). Also, as I learned later, I lost her because I came out first and very quickly from the plane and the connection ambassador who came to receive me didn't find me. Airport people, kind, promoted me to the next flight that would leave at 11:20, they apologized for the inconvenience and transferred me to a nice lounge for the-waiting."
@nytimes Wow... A beautiful luck— Eamon (@Eamon) 1552379670.0
@BuzzFeed whoa! Crazy! Sound very much like final destination right there https://t.co/s8mVaTJ5w0— SilkyC (@SilkyC) 1552354954.0
A few hours later, Mavropoulos was preparing to get on his next flight when he was stopped by two security guards.
"On 10:50, as we joined the next flight, two security officers informed me that for security reasons that a senior officer will explain to me, they will not allow my boarding. In my intense protests they left no margin of discussion and led me to their superior, to the airport police department.
He told me gently not to protest and say thank you to God, because I am the only passenger who did not enter the flight et 302 which is missing. And that this was why they can't let me go, until I determine who I am, because I didn't get on the flight and everything. At First I thought he was lying, but his style left no margin of doubt."
@nytimes Wow...that’s a man who should be humble for the rest of his days 🙏🏽— Nico (@Nico) 1552380177.0
@BuzzFeed Be careful. https://t.co/RCL8qj9vNZ— JR Royal (@JR Royal) 1552358434.0
It was only then that he realized just how lucky his circumstances were:
I felt the ground lost under my feet, but I came back in 1-2 seconds because I thought something else would happen, some communication problem maybe. People were kind, they asked that they had to ask, they my elements and let me wait ...Then I realized that I must immediately contact my own people and tell them that I was not in and that for two small random circumstances I lost the flight - the moment I made that thought i collapsed because then exactly I realized how lucky I stood."
@nytimes He should keep and frame his boarding ticket, let it be a reminder that his journey in this life is not yet over.— Sibusisiwe Malinga (@Sibusisiwe Malinga) 1552379780.0
@nytimes Can't even imagine how he feels.. Damn lucky— Dark Angel 🔥 (@Dark Angel 🔥) 1552379755.0
Mavropoulos wrote the post to help control his emotions, which were understandably running wild over the past couple of days.
"This text I wrote to manage my shock. I'm posting it because I want to tell everyone that the invisible and, nēmatídia of fortune, the out-of-plan circumstances knit the web in which our life is taken. It's millions of small threads we almost never feel - but one to break is enough to feed the whole web instantly.
Really, it's the first time I'm so glad I wrote a post and I'm grateful to live and that I have so many friends that made me feel their love - kisses to all and a warm thank you for your touching support. Special citation reference for early surgery and support to Jeroen Par Dijk Panos Fragiadakis Haris Kamariotakis and a big sorry to my family for the shock you've been looking for."
@nytimesworld Fate. She works in strange ways but life is clearly not done with him yet.— Brainmonkey (@Brainmonkey) 1552342133.0
@nytimesworld @nytimes God bless. Wasn’t your time to go.— Marisa Berlingeri (@Marisa Berlingeri) 1552350919.0
He ended the post by quoting the rock band Jethro Tull:
Maybe not too old to rock n roll - but certainly too young to die...
It seems fate still has things in store for Mavropoulos, but he will likely never forget the day that was almost his last.
This quote, from Antonis Mavropoulos - the man who missed the Ethiopian Airlines plane that crashed by mere minutes… https://t.co/5zsmaCbYwc— Lauren Turner (@Lauren Turner) 1552391814.0