A woman with a baby girl swapped seats right in the front for a seat well at the back, two others missed the flight at Dubai because they did not have the money to pay a fine, and yet other survivors can’t understand why they’re still alive. These are their stories
Seat swap changes fates
Saleekha Nasrin (24) still doesn’t know the identity of the man who accepted her request to sit in her seat in the third row from the front. She and her daughter, Laiba Fathoom
(2), escaped without a scratch. “I asked him to swap seats so that I could sit with Ayisha, the wife of my husband’s friend who was travelling with a child. He happily obliged,” said Saleekha, whose allotted seat was 3C. She saw him after the crash briefly. “I recognised him from his clothes. He seemed to be critically injured,” she said. Saleekha said the third seat in her row had fallen off after the crash.
Missing flight to doom
When the flight started taxiing down for take-off from Dubai, a passenger was pleading with officials to allow him to board. They didn’t as the demand was near impossible. Getting on the flight was important to Afzal PK as he was planning to get married once his quarantine period ended.
But, having already reached 10 minutes late, Afzal learned at the passport counter his visa had expired on June 10 and his exit should have been by July 10, and thus he had to pay a 1,000-dirham fine. Afzal had only 500, and by the time he could arrange the cash, the flight doors had closed. Had he boarded, his seat would have been 18C, towards the front end which bore most of the impact.
Twice lucky
Noufal Vettan of Thirunayaya has a pending fine to thank for his life. It was the reason he was not allowed to board the AIE flight during immigration checks at Dubai airport. Noufal had got his boarding pass, but when he reached airport immigration they said there was a pending fine for overstaying. He didn’t have the money.
Noufal’s luck continued to hold. On hearing about his miraculous escape, his employer in Sharjah has given him back the job he had lost as an office assistant. “That unpaid fine saved me. As I didn’t have the money I missed the flight. But it became my new ticket to life as I also got my job back,” he said.

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