Dubai flight delay saves resident from boarding fatal Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET302

A missed connection stopped Ahmed Khalid from being on board Flight ET302

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Dubai resident Ahmed Khalid would have been on board Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302 from Addis Ababa had the first leg of his journey not been delayed.

Flying home to Nairobi from Dubai, Ahmed was changing planes in Addis Ababa but he arrived too late to make his planned connection.

The unexpected delay saved his life.

Just six minutes after take off from Addis Ababa’s Bole International Airport, flight ET302 crashed, killing all 157 on board.

Among the passengers, from 33 nations, were local travellers, aid workers, UN staff and government officials.

Passenger Ahmed Khalid (L), who missed his Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 while connecting from Dubai, is received by his father Khalid Bzambur (R) at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in Nairobi, Kenya March 10, 2019. REUTERS/Baz Ratner     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Ahmed Khalid with his father after arriving at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi. Reuters

“When I reached Addis Ababa they told me to take the second flight, which is at 11 o'clock, and I said it's fine,” Ahmed said.

But when the passengers realised something had gone wrong with the earlier departure, he said they asked airline employees.

“Everyone was asking the cabin crew what was happening but no one was saying anything," Ahmed said.

"They were just going up and down until one of the passengers saw on his mobile that the first plane that had just flown, like six minutes after it flew, it just crashed."

Ahmed’s father was waiting at Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta airport, unaware that his son had missed the ill-fated flight.

"I arrived here shortly after 10am and as I waited, a security person approached me and asked me which flight I was waiting for,” Khalid Ali Abdulrahman said.

“I answered him quickly because I wanted him to direct me to the arrivals. So I told him Ethiopia, and then he said, 'Sorry, that one has crashed’.”

Khalid said he feared the worst.

"I was shocked but shortly after, my son contacted me and told me he is still in Addis and did not board that flight," he said.

"He was waiting for the second one, which had been delayed."

For others at Nairobi airport, the story was very different.

The nearby Sheraton Hotel became a reception space for the grieving.

Officials and airline employees gave out the latest news and offered counselling.