How a man made $1 million out of a United Airlines flight cancellation


It could happen to you. It could.

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

You know that sinking feeling. The one that comes immediately after you see or hear the word canceled associated with your flight.

You go through stages of anger, then hope, and then finally resignation.

Perhaps that's what happened to Paul Kuharevicz. He was booked on a SkyWest United Express flight from Chicago's O'Hare airport to Muskegon in Michigan.

You might think the plane Muskegon without him. But no. It was simply canceled, leaving him with a decision to make.

He chose to rent a car and drive the more than 200 miles home. As Fox 17 reports, when he got home, he remembered that he'd left his bike at work. So he drove there.

But on the way, he made one stop. At the Ladd's and Company convenience store. There, he bought a Mega Millions lottery ticket.

No, he didn't win mega millions. Just a simple, cool $1 million.

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Airline horror stories

United Bans Leggings
Two passengers were denied boarding because they were wearing leggings in March. According to United, the airline had a right to deny boarding based on dress code because the girls were using “buddy passes” and were, therefore, representing the airline when they fly, similar to employees.

Photo Credit: Getty 

David Dao
Definitely not an employee, David Dao was forcibly removed from a United flight in April after he refused to give up his seat on an "overbooked flight," resulting in a serious concussion, a broken nose, and two lost teeth. Video of the incident went viral, causing United to change their policy and get slapped with a lawsuit that was quickly settled.

Photo Credit: Youtube

Giant Rabbit Dies
United also faced another controversy when a giant rabbit being transported on one of its planes died in the cargo during a flight. According to The Sun newspaper, the animal, named Simon, was the son of the world’s largest rabbit -- a four-foot long continental rabbit called Darius --and was expected to have grown larger than his father.

“Something very strange has happened and I want to know what. I’ve sent rabbits all around the world and nothing like this has happened before," said owner Annette Edwards.

Photo Credit: Twitter 

Bride and Groom Booted From Flight 
A bride and groom traveling to Costa Rica for their wedding in April were escorted off a United Airlines flight after they noticed a man sleeping in their seats and decided to move up three rows as to not wake the passenger. However, it was an "Economy Plus" seat and although the passengers said they complied to return to the seats, a U.S. Marshal removed them.

Photo Credit: Getty 

Altercation Between American Airlines and Mother
American Airlines suspended a flight attendant while investigating a scuffle between him, a mom and two babies. In a viral video, a woman is seen hysterically crying while holding a toddler, with a male flight attending yanking away the stroller for her second child.g a scuffle between him, a mom and two babies. In a viral video, a woman is seen hysterically crying while holding a toddler, with a male flight attending yanking away the stroller for her second child.

Photo Credit: Youtube

Delta Removes Passenger After He Used the Bathroom
At the end of April, a man was removed from a Delta flight after he used the bathroom while the plane awaited takeoff on the tarmac. 

Photo Credit: Getty 

Delta Worker Threatens Passengers With Jail Time
Early May, a Southern California family said they were kicked off an overbooked Delta flight because they refused to give up a seat they had bought for their young son sitting in a car seat. They were asked to have their son sit on their lap for the duration of the flight. They refused, saying they paid for the seat, to which the airline staff threatened the family with jail time.

Photo Credit: Getty 

Spirit Airlines Riot
In May, Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport descended into total chaos after nine Spirit Airlines flights were canceled, leaving hundreds of passengers stranded and increasingly irate in the terminal. The cancellations were the result of a legal dispute between the budget airline and the Air Line Pilots Association International. 

 Courtesy of Jary Romero/Handout via REUTERS

Teen Trapped in Airport Alone Overnight
According to CBC News, a 15-year-old boy was "trapped" overnight in an airport alone when Air Canada rebooked him on another flight after he missed his original one. However, the flight was almost 24 hours later and the airline did not offer him any accommodation or vouchers for food. Because he is a minor, he could not get a hotel room, he says.

(Photo by Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Passenger Forced to Pee in a Cup
Also in May, a passenger claimed she was forced to pee in a cup aboard a United flight after flight attendants told her she wasn’t allowed to use the lavatory until the pilot had turned off the fasten seatbelt sign.

The woman, who had an overactive bladder, was told the flight attendant would be filing a report about the incident.

Photo Credit: Getty 

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Yes, it's surely less than Dr. David Dao got for being dragged, bloody-faced off a United flight earlier this year. Still, it's not a bad sum for his trouble.

If the flight had been on time, he'd likely have got home sooner. Perhaps he wouldn't have gone to work to pick up his bike.

Even if he had, it likely wouldn't have been at the same moment that he bought his ticket.

Pity turned to serendipity.

I contacted United to ask how it felt about being the unwitting impetus to good fortune. I will update, should I hear.

There's a touching lesson here, though.

Sometimes, a difficulty or a failure can seem all-encompassingly painful.

It can ruin your morning, your day, your week. Nay, your life.

Sometimes, though, it can lead to an unexpected joy--in this case, something that can change a life.

Kuharevicz said that thanks to the windfall, his wife can now happily retire.

Oh, I won't stretch to offering a vacuous message of don't despair.

Instead, please just consider how utterly random and absurd life can be.

Hey, a flight cancellation could happen to you. It very likely will.

But then good things could happen too. Usually, when you least expect them.

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