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Thursday, July 24, 2014, 09:15

Airline worker recalls joyful sendoff for passengers

By Agence France-Presse in The Hague

An airline ground crew member who checked passengers in for Flight MH17 made an emotional post on Facebook, recalling sending off happy travelers, including children and grandparents, with wishes for "a pleasant flight".

Among many details, the crew member, Renuka Manisha Virangna Birbal, mentioned "A loving family of six with their 10 pieces of luggage that I had to put in the system. 'After a long time we're returning home' ".

The post has been shared almost 10,000 times.

Birbal said she asked two soccer fans with business class tickets whether they would like to sit together. After a moment's hesitation, one joked, "No, I want some rest."

"It was busy at the check-in desk, so I went there to help my colleagues," she wrote, remembering "a child smiling and waving at me".

A total of 298 people from 11 countries, 80 of them children, died when the plane exploded over rebel-held Ukraine, apparently blown out of the sky by a missile fired from the ground.

"Mom when do we see our luggage again?" asked one excited child.

"A man who is about to start a new life in Malaysia ... a family get dropped off by their grandparents, kids' first holiday far away", Birbal remembered.

"Grandma makes photos of how her children and grandchildren check in. This time I do not mind that I am in the picture. ... A newly married couple, on the way to their honeymoon ... a beautiful little girl held by her mother, her father behind them pushing the stroller. She's so beautiful, a half-Dutch, half-Malaysian with beautiful big eyes. She kindly smiled at me. ...

"A man who could still join the flight to be on time for the funeral of his mother. Grandchildren traveling with their grandparents.

"Suddenly I see a familiar face, it is our colleague from the MH ticket counter. He proudly shows me his son, wife and daughter. With a big smile, he waved 'See you soon' ".

"A final farewell to the crew, till next time! And then we removed the bridge."

"The last time I saw them ... I wished them a pleasant flight".

"Rest in peace dear passengers and crew," Birbal said in her post, signing off "on behalf of the ground handling agents of Flight MH17 on Thursday, July 17".

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