Pick and Mix : When places get mixed up
UK’s Independent – a man is suing BA for taking him to Granada in the Caribbean instead of Granada in Spain.
“After two years without a holiday and a lifetime of longing to see the architectural treasures of Granada, Edward Gamson felt he could at last relax as he sat back on a British Airways flight en route to the capital of Moorish Spain. It was only when the American dentist and his partner glanced at the electronic map on the in-flight entertainment system and noticed their plane was heading due west out of London that they became concerned something was not right.
Some nine hours later, the pair found themselves not among the arabesques of the Alhambra Palace but a full 4,000 miles from their intended destination, on the Caribbean holiday island of Grenada.
The mix-up initially resulted in apologies from BA staff on board the flight, and a promise that the couple would be put on the plane’s return trip to Gatwick en route to Granada. Instead, they were subjected to a further three-day ordeal which resulted in them never reaching Spain, and a refusal by BA to reimburse their £2,650 first-class tickets, and which is now the subject of a damages claim before the US courts.”
Having been to Southern Spain a few times on business, we don’t recall Granada Spain being a big airport. Everytime we have flown there, it has been via connections in Madrid or Barcelona with regional flights to smaller airports such as Jerez de La Frontier. We do recall also flying to Seville direct from Munich, but that was a small plane.
Out of curiosity, we looked up Granada Spain airport GRX. What surprised us was the number of destinations that fly to GRX – only 5 ! Barcelona, London City airport (a BA flight !), Madrid, Melilia, and Palma De Mallorca. Still, when we plugged London -> Granada into google/flights, GRX came up as the default whereas GND is the code for Granada Caribbean. To get there from London, you’d have to change (It could also be google second guessing as I had just looked it up but to get to GND from main London airport requires a change.)
Unable to see the e-ticket to validate the airport – it is claimed it just said “Granada” – from our side if the Dentist never stated Granada SPAIN, then he may be on sticky grounds but the lawsuit is being tried in the US and the judge isn’t necessarily agreeing.
Earlier this month, a US judge rejected the airline’s attempt to have part of his lawsuit struck out, and the claim will now head for a full hearing.
In his ruling, Judge James Boasberg wrote: “This case proves the truth of Mark Twain’s aphorism that ‘the difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug’. Except here only a single letter’s difference is involved.”
Most Americans would think the Caribbean version especially if you were a Marine who went there on a little vacation back in 1983. Not only that, but Granada is known as a place for it’s medical schools for US students to study and Mr Gamson is afterall, a Dentist.
We are even surprised that someone uses a travel agent these days. We would only consider using a booking agent in very complex travel but since he booked first class, we must assume it is a time issue or he is too rich to be bothered. It will be interesting to see how this gets resolved as he is suing for $34,000 damages. It would be cheaper for BA to settle.
Speaking of geographic embarrassment. We remember reading some time back, a viral list of stories about similar geographic mix ups. The one were remembered was the person wanting to go to Hippopotamus when the really wanted Buffalo instead. We tracked them down for your amusement. Here was the list from Travel Agents funny stories:
- A client called in inquiring about a package to Hawaii. After going over all the cost info, she asked, “Would it be cheaper to fly to California and then take the train to Hawaii?”
- I got a call from a woman who wanted to go to Capetown. I started to explain the length of the flight and the passport information when she interrupted me with “I’m not trying to make you look stupid, but Capetown is in Massachusetts. “Without trying to make her look like the stupid one, I calmly explained, “Capecod is in Massachusetts, Capetown is in Africa.” Her response … click.
- A man called, furious about a Florida package we did. I asked what was wrong with the vacation in Orlando. He said he was expecting an ocean-view room. I tried to explain that is not possible, since Orlando is in the middle of the state. He replied, “Don’t lie to me. I looked on the map and Florida is a very thin state.”
- I got a call from a man who asked, “Is it possible to see England from Canada?” I said, “No.” He said “But they look so close on the map.”
- Another man called and asked if he could rent a car in Dallas. When I pulled up the reservation, I noticed he had a 1-hour lay-over in Dallas. When I asked him why he wanted to rent a car, he said, “I heard Dallas was a big airport, and I need a car to drive between the gates to save time.”
- A nice lady just called. She needed to know how it was possible that her flight from Detroit left at 8:20am and got into Chicago at 8:33am. I tried to explain that Michigan was an hour ahead of llinois, but she could not understand the concept of time zones. Finally I told her the plane went very fast, and she bought that!
- A woman called and asked, “Do airlines put your physical description on your bag so they know who’s luggage belongs to who?” I said, “No, why do you ask?” She replied, “Well, when I checked in with the airline, they put a tag on my luggage that said FAT, and I’m overweight, is there any connection?” After putting her on hold for a minute while I “looked into it” ( I was actually laughing) I came back and explained the city code for Fresno is FAT, and that the airline was just putting a destination tag on her luggage.
- I just got off the phone with a man who asked, “How do I know which plane to get on?” I asked him what exactly he meant, which he replied, “I was told my flight number is 823, but none of these darn planes have numbers on them.
- “A woman called and said, “I need to fly to Pepsi-cola on one of those computer planes.” I asked if she meant to fly to Pensacola on a commuter plane. She said, “Yeah, whatever.”
- A business man called and had a question about the documents he needed in order to fly to China. After a lengthy discussion about passports, I reminded him he needed a visa. “Oh no I don’t, I’ve been to China many times and never had to have one of those.” I double checked and sure enough, his stay required a visa. When I told him this he said, “Look, I’ve been to China four times and every time they have accepted my American Express.”
Last but not least…
- A woman called to make reservations, “I want to go from Chicago to Hippopotamus, New York” The agent was at a loss for words. Finally, the agent: “Are you sure that’s the name of the town?” “Yes, what flights do you have?” replied the customer. After some searching, the agent came back with, “I’m sorry, ma’am, I’ve looked up every airport code in the country and can’t find a Hippopotamus anywhere.” The customer retorted, “Oh don’t be silly. Everyone knows where it is. Check your map!” The agent scoured a map of the state of New York and finally offered, “You don’t mean Buffalo, do you?” “That’s it! I knew it was a big animal!”