Oops, wrong Sydney

The Daily Mail reports on a Dutch man and his grandson who got a most unpleasant surprise when the travel agency booked him on a flight to Sydney. The only problem was that it was Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada, instead of where they really intended to go, which would of course be Sydney, Australia. From the article:

They flew into Nova Scotia in the east of the country from Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport with Air Canada on Saturday.

They even managed to board to a connecting flight to the wrong Sydney at Halifax on the east coast of Canada without realising their mistake.

Ordinarily, I’d say the first clue something is amiss would be the airline the flight is on. However, Air Canada does fly to and from both Amsterdam and Sydney, Australia. It would appear the flights out of Amsterdam may actually be operated by other airlines (Lufthansa, LH City Line, or BMI when I looked).

To be fair about it, were I not a US native and thus in relatively close proximity to Canada, I may not be completely sure just where Halifax is in relation to Australia. I’ll admit it, I failed world geography the first time I took it, and I usually at least get the continent right (and sometimes even which part of it) when given the name of a country. I don’t think Australia has a Halifax, much less a major city with that name where an airport would be located.

Anyway, after the dust settles, the travel agency is almost certainly on the hook for what can only be described as a first-class foul-up, even if the travelers were booked into coach for their voyage of error.

And they aren’t the only ones: the article mentions two prior known cases of misdirected travelers winding up in the much chillier climate of Canada as opposed to the warmth of Australia when booked on flights to Sydney.

The moral of the story: don’t trust your travel agent to be perfect. Mistakes happen. If you’re headed to Sydney, Australia, check your tickets against the actual IATA airport code for Sydney, Australia (SYD), instead of Sydney, Canada (YQY). Check the details of the trip and the duration for sanity: Houston, Texas, USA, to Sydney, Australia, should be a fairly long flight, definitely more than a little longer than a flight to New York City.

And to travel agents: remember, the only thing worse than lost luggage is lost passengers. Double-check your work. The embarassment you save may be your own.