Malaysian Airlines Flight 17: Last-Minute Booking Changes Save Dutch Cyclist from 2 MH Tragedies

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By Vittorio Hernandez | July 20, 2014 7:34 PM EST

The two Malaysian Airlines tragedies have produced heartbreaking as stories of pain and grieving over the loss of loved ones spread around the world. It has also spawned heartwarming stories of travelers having cheated death because of a last-minute change in flight or overbooked flight that resulted in lack of seats.


Residents ride a bicycle in Old Aleppo April 5, 2014. REUTERS/Aref Haj Youssef (SYRIA - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST CONFLICT SOCIETY) April 5, 2014

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Those whose lives were spared are so thankful for a second chance in life. However, for a Dutch cyclist, the gratitude is double because he was prevented from boarding two Malaysian Airlines planes - Flights 370 and 17.

Maarten de Jonge, however, was hesitant to share his story because he wants the focus be on the victims who perished instead of those who survived. In both instances on March 8 and July 17, the 29-year-old athlete changed his flight at the last minute.

He opted on Thursday for a cheaper flight on Sunday, reported RTV Oost, a Dutch TV station. Beyond those details, he declined to give any more information because his cheating death "is ultimately nothing compared to the misery" of the victims.

De Jonge's Web site, however, provided some more information about the lucky cyclist. It said he was planning to go to Kuala Lumpur to join in the national championships, but he opted to change flights to save some money.

On the first time his life was spared, de Jonge said, "I could have taken that one just as easily. It's inconceivable. I am very sorry for the passengers and their families, yet I am very pleased I'm unharmed."

He finished 35th in the Dutch cycling competition on June 30 and initially planned to return to Malaysia on July 20. The cyclist apparently believes luck the third time because he plans to still travel via Malaysian Airlines.

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Residents ride a bicycle in Old Aleppo April 5, 2014. REUTERS/Aref Haj Youssef (SYRIA - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST CONFLICT SOCIETY) April 5, 2014
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