United Airlines sent a woman 3,000 miles in the wrong direction

How could this happen? Don't ask how.

Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.

Some stories are unbelievable.

Thankfully, though, if a story involves an airline, we're all too ready to believe it. However unbelievable it might be.

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Hark, then, at the tale of Lucie Bahetoukilae.

All she wanted to do was fly from New Jersey to Paris. If you are in New Jersey right now, you might want to fly to Paris too.

So she bought a ticket and was given a boarding pass.

She went to the gate number printed on the boarding pass. She got on the plane, only to discover someone sitting in her seat.

A kind United Airlines flight attendant helped her out and put her in another seat.

Ah, you might think. Now Bahetoukilae could sit back, relax and enjoy her flight to La Belle France.

Then she got off the plane and discovered she was in San Francisco.

You're there already, aren't you? San Francisco isn't even on the way from New Jersey to Paris. What on earth happened?

Well, Bahetoukilae is French and doesn't speak a word of English. She relies on human kindness when abroad.

But, as the New York Daily News reports, even though her boarding pass clearly said "Charles de Gaulle," it was scanned and accepted on a flight to San Francisco which happened to leave from the gate number that she had on her boarding pass.

Her niece, Diane Miantsoko, told ABC 7: "With everything going on this country people have to be more careful. They didn't pay attention. My aunt could have been anyone. She could have been a terrorist and killed people on that flight and they didn't know they didn't catch it."

Equally, United could have decided to bump her, drag her off the flight while bloodying her face and claim she had been disruptive -- all of which happened in the now infamous case of Dr. David Dao.

For its part, United admitted to its mistake. It even paid for the accommodation Bahetoukilae enjoyed while waiting for a flight back from San Francisco in the right direction. This was accommodation that the airline didn't offer to pay for at the time it all happened.

It's odd how attitudes can change when the media comes along.

Still, sending a passenger 3,000 miles in the wrong direction is a touch careless.

It's also yet another example, perhaps, of staff who are under pressure, overweighed by rules, regulations and passengers who aren't often happy to be getting on a cramped plane and having to tolerate other passengers, as well as ever-narrower seats.

These days, airlines are under enormous scrutiny because they've put themselves in that position.

They've focused on profits and ignored basics such as humanity, service, comfort and staff training.

Doesn't it make you think that too many airlines are simply flying in the wrong direction?