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Family booked on MH17 were told: 'Sorry, there are no seats'

On being told that there was not enough room for them on their flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, Barry and Izzy Sim were understandably angry.

Little did they know that the airline staff at whom they were complaining had just saved their lives.

The couple, from Scotland, were booked on Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 but were told at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport at the last minute that there were not enough seats for them and their baby on the aircraft.

The couple spoke of the "sick feeling" they experienced on hearing the news that MH17 had crashed in Ukraine, killing all 295 people on board.

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A still taken from amateur video hows a fireball shortly after the Malaysia Airlines passenger plane carrying 295 people was shot down over Ukraine. Photo: AP

A still taken from amateur video hows a fireball shortly after the Malaysia Airlines passenger plane carrying 295 people was shot down over Ukraine. Photo: AP

People walk amongst the debris at the crash site of a passenger plane near the village of Grabovo, Ukraine. Photo: AP

People walk amongst the debris at the crash site of a passenger plane near the village of Grabovo, Ukraine. Photo: AP

Emergencies Ministry members walk at the site of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash in the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region. Reuters

Emergencies Ministry members walk at the site of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash in the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region. Reuters

An armed pro-Russian separatist stands on part of the wreckage of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane after it crashed near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region. Reuters

An armed pro-Russian separatist stands on part of the wreckage of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane after it crashed near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region. Reuters

An Emergencies Ministry member works at putting out a fire at the site of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash in the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region. Reuters

An Emergencies Ministry member works at putting out a fire at the site of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash in the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region. Reuters

US President Barack Obama looks down as he speaks about the Malaysian airliner flight MH-17 that was brought down over eastern Ukraine on Thursday, killing all 295 people aboard. Reuters

US President Barack Obama looks down as he speaks about the Malaysian airliner flight MH-17 that was brought down over eastern Ukraine on Thursday, killing all 295 people aboard. Reuters

An Emergencies Ministry member walks at the site of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region. Reuters

An Emergencies Ministry member walks at the site of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region. Reuters

Malaysia Airlines Flight MH-17 is seen at the G3 gate of Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, before it took off, heading to Kuala Lumpur, July 17, 2014. Reuters

Malaysia Airlines Flight MH-17 is seen at the G3 gate of Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, before it took off, heading to Kuala Lumpur, July 17, 2014. Reuters

Smoke rises above the site of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region. Reuters

Smoke rises above the site of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region. Reuters

Emergencies Ministry members walk at the site of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region. Reuters

Emergencies Ministry members walk at the site of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region. Reuters

An armed pro-Russian separatist stands at a site of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash in the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region. Reuters

An armed pro-Russian separatist stands at a site of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash in the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region. Reuters

Cor Pan and Neeltje Tol - believed to be on board MH17

Cor Pan and Neeltje Tol - believed to be on board MH17

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A still taken from amateur video hows a fireball shortly after the Malaysia Airlines passenger plane carrying 295 people was shot down over Ukraine. Photo: AP

"You get this sick feeling in the pit of your stomach," said Mr Sim. "We started getting butterflies. Your heartbeat starts going."

Mrs Sim added: "There must have been someone watching over us and saying, 'You must not get on that flight.'" Up to 10 British passengers were last night feared to be among the dead, as well as a reported 23 American passengers and at least four French nationals.

The upper floor of Schiphol airport was closed off to give privacy to family and friends of MH17 passengers.

At Kuala Lumpur International Airport, where flight MH17 had been due to land shortly after 6am local time today, women wept into tissues as they waited for information.

Only 131 days ago, Mohd Salleh Samsudin, 54, whose stewardess daughter Nur Shazana was also believed to have been on MH17, had found out that his friend's brother, Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, was piloting MH370 which vanished on March 8.

"We are not over that tragedy yet, and this happens," he said at his home in Persiaran Mayang Pasir, Penang.

 

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