A man says he narrowly missed the Ethiopian Airlines flight that crashed en route to Nairobi on Sunday, killing all 157 people on board, because of a series of coincidences.
Antonis Mavropoulos shared an image of his boarding pass along with an emotional post on Facebook titled “My Lucky Day,” which detailed the events he said led to him missing Flight 302.
The Nairobi-bound jet took off at 8:38 a.m. from Addis Ababa Bole International Airport and lost contact six minutes later, Ethiopian Airlines said Sunday. Those on board the Boeing 737 MAX 8 airplane included 149 passengers and eight crew members.
Mavropoulos, who lives in Greece and runs a recycling company, was traveling to Nairobi for an environmental conference and had a connecting flight in Addis Ababa.
When his first flight arrived in Ethiopia, Mavropoulos told Greek news channel Skai TV he had less than 30 minutes to get to the gate for the next leg of his trip.
“When I arrived, boarding had closed and I saw the last passengers in the tunnel going in [to the airplane],” he wrote in his now-viral Facebook post. “I yelled for them to let me in but I wasn’t allowed.”
Mavropoulos and a representative from Ethiopian Airlines did not immediately respond to BuzzFeed News’ request for comment.
Mavropoulos told Skai TV he was annoyed, but that airport employees apologized for the inconvenience and were helpful in booking him on a flight that departed later in the morning.
After about a three-hour wait, Mavropoulos said he was getting ready for the next flight when he was stopped by two security guards who told him he couldn’t board for security reasons.
He wrote that he complained “intensely,” but the guards brought him to their supervisor, who “politely told me not to protest and say I should thank God, because I was the only passenger who did not board Flight 302, which was still missing.”
“At first I thought he was lying, but his manner left no room for doubt,” Mavropoulos said.
Airport security staffers had Mavropoulos wait while they verified who he was and why he didn’t board the flight, he wrote. While waiting, he came across the news about Flight 302 and immediately called his family to tell them he was not on the plane.
“At that moment I collapsed because I realized exactly just how lucky I am,” he wrote.
Mavropoulos added that he believes he missed the flight because of the short connection and the fact that he only had carry-on luggage.
“I didn’t check my suitcase, because I knew the gap between connecting flights was tight. If I had checked the bag in, they would have waited for me,” he told Skai TV.
Mavropoulos, who is still in Nairobi, added that he did not sleep all night because “it is difficult to comprehend exactly what happened.”
He said he posted about his experience on Facebook as a way of handling the shock of the past two days.
“I’m posting because I want to tell everyone that the invisible threads of luck — the unplanned circumstances — knit the web of which our life is caught on,” he wrote. “There are millions of small threads that we usually never feel — but if one breaks that whole web unwinds instantaneously.”
Mavropoulos ended his post with a nod to British rock band Jethro Tull, writing, “Maybe not too old to rock n roll — but certainly too young to die.”