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Luke Pell Found Out About ‘Bachelor’ Switch-Up 11 Hours Before Flight to L.A: ‘I Had My Bags Packed’

The most dramatic phone call ever! Hours before fan-favorite Luke Pell was set to board his L.A.-bound flight to begin filming The Bachelor as the series’ leading man, the ABC dating show pulled the plug.

Luke Pell
Luke Pell Craig Sjodin/ABC

“We were all satisfied, had agreed to the contracts and everything was moving forward,” Pell, who vied for JoJo Fletcher’s heart on season 12 of The Bachelorette, exclusively reveals to Us Weekly. “I was checked in to my flight to come to L.A. I got a call from producers Sunday night at about 10 p.m. They said ABC had decided to quote-unquote go in a different direction. I was supposed to fly out Monday morning at 9 a.m. I had my bags packed and everything. Most dramatic Monday ever!”

Related: PHOTOS: 10 Times 'The Bachelor' Made Our Heads Explode!

As Us previously reported, in a last-minute decision, producers chose Nick Viall — who appeared on seasons 10 and 11 of The Bachelorette with Andi Dorfman and Kaitlyn Bristowe, and season 3 of Bachelor in Paradise — to star on season 21 of the hit show.

Nick Viall
Nick Viall Craig Sjodin/ABC

Indeed, for Pell, more than just an airline ticket had already been arranged. “We had planned for intro filming and had planned to have my sister come on for a date and give advice as part of the show,” the aspiring country singer, 31, reveals to Us. “I met with the wardrobe guys. Everything was moving forward. Everyone on the production level was expecting it to be me, as well.”

Related: PHOTOS: The Bachelor: Where Are They Now?

Still, the genetically blessed Nashville resident has no thorny feelings. “I’ve come to accept the decision,” the West Point alum and war veteran says. “From all my years in the military, I’ve learned that some things are out of my control. I put it in the past, and I’m moving forward. It was a huge surprise, but the element of surprise and unexpected decisions is what the show thrives off of.”

Luke Pell and JoJo Fletcher
Luke Pell and JoJo Fletcher during ‘The Bachelorette.’ Felicia Graham/ABC

With his calendar clear for the next few months — he was set to film through Thanksgiving — Pell is looking forward to getting his life back on track. “I was emotionally and mentally all prepared. My family was happy about it. So I’m recalculating what I’m going to be doing,” he says. “I’m just happy to get back to my life in Nashville as an entrepreneur and a songwriter. Those are two passions of mine. I put them on hold for the TV show, and now I can return to that.”

Don’t expect Pell to dole out roses in the future, either. If producers approached him again to do The Bachelor, “I probably wouldn’t do it,” he admits. “I don’t want to wait in the wings for what decisions they can make for my life. I want to head back into taking control of my own destiny.”

Related: PHOTOS: The Bachelorette After the Final Rose: Broken Engagements, Weddings, Babies, and More!

The single stud’s journey for love will have to continue off air. “I love somebody that is excited about life and has goals and dreams,” Pell tells Us. “I love independence. I love confidence. I love somebody that loves family and loves to have fun and who is completely comfortable in their own skin.”

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