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75-year-old dad accidentally boards wrong plane and flies 1,400 miles to Malta

Talk about a detour!

Pawel Lawreniuk, 75, accidentally got on the wrong flight on Jan. 6 while he was returning to his home in Poland after spending the Christmas holidays with his daughter in the U.K.

Lawreniuk boarded a plane at the Leeds Bradford Airport in West Yorkshire thinking he would arrive at Gdansk, Poland, according to local West Yorkshire paper The Telegraph & Argus.

Instead, he ended up on the Mediterranean island of Malta, south of Italy. He didn’t know he had arrived in the wrong place until a woman at the airport’s information desk told him, “I’m sorry sir, but I don’t speak Polish.”

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The father of five traveled a distance of just over 1,400 miles from the English city to the island nation, and ended up over 1,000 miles away from Gdansk.

Luckily for Lawreniuk, a Polish-speaking woman, Kamilla Nikolas, overheard their conversation, contacted Lawreniuk’s daughter and helped him book a new flight to Poland.

“I’m just happy I overheard the conversation and I could help. There’s not many Polish in Malta — I was in the right place at the right time,” Nikolas told the Telegraph & Argus.

His daughter, Lucyna Lawreniuk, 34, said that she had double-checked the ticket information when she printed it out and that she had dropped off her father in plenty of time for the flight.

“I cried, I was scared — he was in a different country, a different place,” she told the Telegraph & Argus.

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“My father told me he doesn’t want to come to me next year. He doesn’t want to fly anymore,” she continued. “Today I spoke with him about everything and he’s had bad dreams. I’m worried about him, but hopefully everything will be okay.”

It is unclear how Lawreniuk was allowed to get on the incorrect flight.

A spokesperson for Swissport, the handling agency for Ryanair at Leeds Bradford Airport, said in a statement obtained by the outlet that they were aware of the incident.

“The passenger had undergone all airport security screening before boarding the flight and had a valid passport which had been checked,” the statement read. “We are investigating how this occurred and we are re-briefing all staff on procedure. We would like to apologize to Mr. Lawreniuk for the inconvenience caused.”

Ryanair did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

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