Flight changes save Dutch cyclist - twice
DUTCH cyclist Maarten de Jonge, who rides for the Terengganu team in Malaysia, cheated death twice after he made last-minute changes to his flight tickets for Malaysia Airlines flights MH370 and MH17.
The 29-year-old cyclist told Dutch television station RTV Oost that he had to change his MH17 flight to another date because he wanted to save money on airfare. He changed to a flight that travelled via Frankfurt.
The decision meant he was not among 298 people, the majority Dutch citizens, killed as the jetliner was downed over Ukraine.
De Jonge, who comes from Oldenzaal, also said he was supposed to board MH370 on March 8 for a competition in Taiwan, but changed to another flight to avoid transit.
MH370 - with 239 people on board - was on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing when it vanished.
"I could have taken that one just as easily... It's hard to believe. I grieve for the passengers and their families, but I'm grateful that I escaped the flight," according to his website.
He said he was overwhelmed by the number of responses that he got after news broke that he had had changed his flight.
"What happened is terrible, so many victims, that's a horrible thing.
"I am happy for myself and my family after these two incidents. However, my story is ultimately nothing compared to the misery faced by the families in this tragic incident.
"Attention should be paid to these families. I wish everyone affected by this disaster to be strong," he added.
De Jonge finished 35th in the Dutch cycling championship on June 30, according to his website.
He is planning to fly back to Malaysia today, on a Malaysia Airlines flight via Frankfurt, he said.
"You should try not to worry too much because, then, you won't get anywhere," he told RTV Oost.
BLOOMBERG, THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK