Monday, April 3, 2017

A Tale Of Two Sydney's

Screen grab from The Guardian

Ouch! Look at that headline from The Guardian online this past Saturday, April 1st. For a moment or two I thought it might be an April Fool’s Day joke, but no, a young Dutch man, Milan Schipper, thought he had grabbed the bargain of lifetime when he scored a cheap flight from Amsterdam to Sydney, Australia.

Schipper’s plan was to backpack through Australia, taking in its lush coastal landscapes and white sand beaches before heading to college after the Northern summer. Since he knew it was late summer in Australia, he came dressed for the occasion—in a T-shirt, sweatpants and a thin jacket.
Instead, the Dutch teenager found himself 10,000 miles away from Sydney, Australia – staring out at a snow-covered, frozen landscape – as he realised that he had accidentally booked a flight to Sydney, Nova Scotia, a municipality of 32,000 people on Canada’s east coast.
“I thought I was going to Australia, but that turned out a little different,” the 18-year-old told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation on Thursday.
During a stopover in Toronto, Schipper began to have doubts about his destination after he noticed that the plane lined up on the tarmac was a lot smaller than he thought it should be.
His suspicions were confirmed after he boarded and checked the flight map on his seat screen. “I saw the flight plan was going to go right, not left. It was about the time that I realized there was another Sydney,” he said. “I felt terrible. I think I swore in my head for like 10 minutes. But there was nothing I could do about it because I was already up in the air.”
Sydney, Australia.                             Sydney, Nova Scotia
(Images: Jason Reed, Steve Wadden/Reuters)
On landing in Sydney, Nova Scotia, he discovered the locals were bracing for a snowstorm expected to bring strong winds and 10 to 15 cm (four to six inches) of snow. After Schipper spoke to airline representatives and explained what had happened, he ruled out heading straight to Australia—which would have cost him another €1,500 ($1,600), and another 30 hours of air travel—and decided to fly back to Amsterdam instead.

Incredibly (or so it seems to me), an American woman on the same flight as Milan Schipper made the same mistake! And this incident is not the first time travellers have confused the two Sydney’s. In 2002 two British teenagers ended up in Sydney, Nova Scotia, while trying to visit Australia, as did an Argentine tourist in 2008, another Dutch man and his grandson in 2009, and an Italian couple in 2010.

Clearly, it helps to have more than a passing knowledge of world geography. It also helps to pay a lot more attention to the booking process.

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