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Monday, 5 August, 2002, 14:03 GMT 15:03 UK
Britons fly to 'wrong' Sydney
An internet booking mix-up has left a young English couple holidaying in chilly Sydney, Nova Scotia, instead of on the sun-kissed beaches of the Australian city of the same name.
Emma Nunn, of Sidcup, Kent, and Raoul Christian, of Charlton, south east London, both 19, bought their tickets from an online travel agent for £740 each.
Realising they were in eastern Canada, the couple assumed they were "going the long way" because they had booked at the last minute and would soon be arriving in Sydney, Australia.
Mr Christian described the experience as "really, really confusing".
"We thought 'OK, we are going to wait here and a big plane is going to turn up and take us to Australia'.
"But it did not quite happen that way."
The passengers were asked to board a 25-seater plane.
And after just more than an hour they landed in sleepy Sydney, Cape Breton Island, off the north eastern coast of Canada.
Airline officials are arranging for the couple to return to London.
But, in true British fashion, the pair are not ready to write off their summer holiday just yet.
"But after it sank in we both said 'let's make the most of what we've got around us'."
They said they were enjoying looking at the pick-up trucks, and eating the local lobster.
Airport officials said they had sometimes received luggage destined for Sydney, Australia before - but never people.
Andrea Batten, an employee of Air Canada in Sydney, Nova Scotia, told the Reuters news agency she was dropping off a friend at the airport when a colleague asked: "Can somebody go to the counter and help these people? They think they're in Sydney, Australia."
"They were obviously very surprised," said Ms Batten, who said she had never heard of such an incident in her 13 years of working there.
"They decided they might as well stay for a few days, having come all this way.
"It's going to be a trip to remember."
I booked a trek and flight to Antigua, Guatemala, on Friday - reiterating the country at least five times. Paranoia led me to check with BA and I have just found out that my flight is actually going to the West Indies. The moral of the story is don't trust your travel agent! I'm on my way back to the travel agent at lunchtime to try and sort it out, so fingers crossed they will accept their mistake and give a full refund! Gah!
David Hardisty, Canada
I was incredibly close to making the exactly the same mistake last week. Happy to have found a flight to Sydney for £500, I was inputting my card details as quickly as possible, when I suddenly realised the second leg of the trip only took one hour from Halifax. My family and I are now flying via Singapore.
This didn't happen to me but friends of mine who used to live in Bangladesh told me how they had invited a friend to visit them in Dhaka.
The woman didn't turn up on the appointed day and they didn't hear a word from her for months.
When they finally caught up with her she confessed that she had bought a ticket for Dakkar in West Africa by mistake and had gone all the way there before realising her mistake. She was simply too embarrassed to own up.
Last year I booked a trip to Sydney, Nova Scotia, and ended up in Australia. Can you imagine how aggrieved I was? Couldn't get a decent lobster anywhere - the pick-up trucks were a waste of time and the bears were no bigger than a pillow.
I remember when serving in the Army in the 1980s, based in Lisburn, Northern Ireland. A new recruit was due to fly out to join us and ended up in Lisbon, Portugal! Who says the military are experts! They kept that one quiet.
I heard a story once about a Japanese tourist at London Paddington station on her way to Heathrow who wanted to go to Turkey... so the staff put her on a train to Torquay.
The first time I arrived in the United States, I was in Miami trying to buy a plane ticket to Newark, New Jersey. Lacking confidence in my ability to pronounce and understand the quaint dialect of English spoken by American airline personnel, I repeated that I was going to "Newark, not New York" until I was blue in the face. The sales girl was very polite and helpful, processed my request, and, after a reasonable wait and pleasant chat, triumphantly produced a ticket to... New Orleans, Louisiana.
Having since been to both Newark and New Orleans, I think I should have taken her original advice.
When I was younger, I heard of friends of my parents who were towing a caravan, with the aim of going to Stratford (-upon-Avon) on hols. They ended up in Stratford, east London. Honest.
Have you ever had a similar experience? Tell us your stories of holiday nightmares using the form below.
09 May 02 | Asia-Pacific
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