WHEN Antonis Mavropoulos arrived two minutes after the departure gate for his flight had closed, staff wouldn’t let him board.
“I watched the last passengers in the tunnel go in. I screamed to put me in but they didn’t allow it,” he says.
Reuters All 157 people on board the Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max 8 died
Their intransigence saved his life. For the plane was the Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max 8 that crashed just a few minutes after take off, killing all 157 on board.
Antonis, from Greece, adds that a security staff member told him gently “not to protest and say thank you to God, because I am the only passenger who did not enter the flight”.
Whether you believe it was a God, a prophet, fate, or just plain old luck that placed him out of harm’s way, these “sliding doors” stories fascinate me.
Take the man strolling along East London’s Stoke Newington High Street on Sunday. A millisecond after he walked past a cafe, the parapet wall above it collapsed and masses of bricks crashed on to the pavement.
An onlooker wrote on social media: “You never realise how death is real until you face it. That guy was a second away from death.” Another suggested his “Guardian angel was looking after him”.
LIFE IS PRECIOUS
You often hear people who have survived crashes or terrorist attacks speak of how it made them re-evaluate their lives. But what of those plucked from the jaws of possible death before the accident or atrocity even happens? Does it make them feel they have been saved for a reason?
On 9/11, Morgan Stanley executive Greer Epstein was on her way down for a cigarette break when she felt the lift jolt. It was the first plane hitting the Twin Towers and it sent a fireball through her office on the 67th floor.
“My life was my job,” she says. “Now I tell people, ‘Don’t put it off. Take your vacation. Take your time with family’.”
Flight attendant Elise O’Kane was supposed to be on United Airlines 175 but a keyboard error meant she was allocated to another plane, a mistake she was “steaming” about at the time.
When UA 175 struck the South Tower, her colleagues hugged her when they heard of her near miss and told her: “God has a plan for you. You were meant to be here.
Facebook Antonis Mavropoulos was two minutes late when he was denied entry on the flight
“That was the hardest part,” she says of feeling the pressure to do something meaningful with her life. She went to nursing school and now specialises in cardiology, seeing life and death situations almost daily.
New Yorker Rob Herzog missed his morning train and arrived to work five minutes after the first plane hit and killed 295 of his colleagues on the 94th floor.
“I had tremendous survivor’s guilt,” he says. “All I could think of when I woke up was I should be dead, especially when I went to 15 different memorial services.” He gave up his corporate job and launched a sports charity.
For every plane crash or terrorist incident, there was someone who was meant to be there but heavy traffic, oversleeping or last minute change of plan meant that the hand of fate plucked them out of harm’s way.
Perhaps “God’s plan” for them is simply that their stories serve to remind the rest of us that life is precious and should be lived to the full while we still have the chance.
Ethiopia plane crash passenger Antonis Mavropoulos hails a fortunate sequence of events that helped save his life
Don’t go con holiday
IF, like me, the blustery weather prompts you to book your summer holiday, a word of warning. Tasked with finding a holiday rental for eight, I booked a beautiful villa in France via Airbnb.
Alamy If that reasonably priced luxury villa on Airbnb looks too good to be true, that’s because it probably is
I paid a hefty deposit via the website and, once we’d received the confirmation email, we booked our flights. The following day, I received an email from Airbnb to say the booking had been cancelled and my deposit would be returned, but with no further explanation.
After tracking down the “owner” in Norway, it turned out she didn’t have a villa in France and it was a scam. While searching for other villas that fitted the dates we’d already booked our flights for, I came across three more that roused my suspicion and alerted Airbnb. They have since been removed.
Given the US-based site’s eye-watering “service fees” you’d think it would be immune to this kind of chicanery, but clearly not. So my advice is to look for properties that have at least five reviews (proof that people have stayed there,) only make a payment via the official site and trust your gut instinct.
If that reasonably priced luxury villa looks too good to be true, that’s because it probably is.
David Cassidy, who?
A SCIENTIFIC study of “cougar” women (aged 30 to 60, apparently) has revealed they’re going after “toy boys” (aka “age-hypogamous intimate relationships”, as you ask) because men their own age are chasing younger women.
Also, they reckon younger chaps are more attentive, not to mention appreciative of their confidence in bed.
It all sounds great, doesn’t it?
Until the inevitable moment when the, ahem, “energetic” sex is over, you have to attempt conversation and, when you casually mention your childhood crush on David Cassidy, right, they look baffled and say: “Who?”
Cindy in the nude
CINDY CRAWFORD, 53, above, has posed nude for a new book by photographer Russell James.
Getty – Contributor Cindy believes you can look great naked at any age
She says: “I thought, at what age is being naked not beautiful any more?”
When you look like Ms Crawford? Never.
For me, about 30 years ago.Preggers Meg marvel
WHEN Meghan Markle first started dating Prince Harry, she was a tiny slip of a thing who looked like the merest whiff of breeze would blow her over.
Getty – Contributor Meghan always turns up to royal events looking radiant, healthy, and still rocking those killer heels
So when she announced her pregnancy, I imagined it would be spent in the style of a Jane Austen character – confined to a darkened room while lackeys fed her pipettes of warm milk and mopped her fevered brow.
But all credit to her; here she is, eight-months pregnant and consistently turning up to royal events looking radiant, healthy, and still rocking those killer heels.
Proof, if needed, that unless you’re one of the unlucky ones who suffer medical problems, pregnancy is a condition, not a disability.
Sex on the National Express
A COUPLE on a National Express bus from Blackpool to Plymouth started having sex in front of other passengers.
The pair, who were arrested, are thought to be strangers who only met on the journey.
Mind you, the trip takes around nine hours.
That’s practically a long-term relationship these days.
Thick as thieves
A DRUG dealer dialled 999 to report that his stash had been stolen. Duh.
The thief who broke into Brendan Rodgers’ home took a selfie of himself as he was leaving
Another was caught after posing for photos with a wad of bank notes, watches and jewellery.
Meanwhile, the thief who broke in to Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers’ home while his terrified wife and step-daughter locked themselves in the bathroom took a selfie of himself as he was leaving.
It gives a whole new meaning to “thick as thieves”.
CommentTHE SUN SAYS This Parliament of pygmies has sold the British people down the river CommentSIR TIM BERNERS-LEE How to save the World Wide Web… by the Brit genius who invented it CommentTREVOR KAVANAGH Flawed Brexit, then dignifed Therexit — price of ‘success’ is PM departure CommentTONY PARSONS Thanks to Rudd, the selfish Ayatollah of Remain, the EU will get their way CommentTREVOR KAVANAGH Theresa May’s Brexit leadership has left the UK grovelling and facing abyss
All the gear… no idea
COMPETITIVE sports are more likely to put couples in the mood for love, says a new survey. Not in our house. In the early days of our relationship, The Bloke turned up on the golf course looking the business in all the high- end clobber.
But when, after much posturing, he eventually hit the ball, it veered sharply to the left and straight in to a pat (ooh, get me with my obscure collective nouns) of flamingos, who started squawking with terror.
Another time, we played tennis doubles with some friends and he spent the entire time running back and forth across the baseline shouting “MINE!” before missing every single shot.
Readers, I married him.
Boeing 737 Max 8 banned from UK airspace following Ethiopian Airlines plane crash that killed all 157 on board