Ooops! Have You Ever Wound Up in Asia Instead of Africa By Mistake?

One couple did, getting ticketed to Dhaka (Bangladesh) instead of Dakar (Senegal).

It turns out the mishap all came down to the three-letter airport code airlines routinely use when making bookings or entering information on baggage tags. Instead of entering DKR (for Dakar) in the computer system, the airline representative entered DAC (for Dhaka), sparking the intercontinental travel nightmare.
The couple, flying on Turkish Airlines, transited in Istanbul before joining their connecting flight to what they thought would be Dakar. They told the LA Times they didn’t notice anything was wrong, because they went by the flight number on their tickets. And the similarity in city names didn’t help matters. “When the flight attendant said we were heading to Dhaka, we believed that this was how you pronounced ‘Dakar’ with a Turkish accent,” Valdivieso said.

It was only after seeing a route map several hours into the flight showing their plane hovering over the Middle East that the pair realized something was wrong.

Usually when this happens, travelers find themselves on a flight to Sydney, Nova Scotia.. realizing something must be wrong when they board a Dash-8 aircraft from Halifax and start to wonder how it could possibly make it all the way across the Pacific?

(HT: uggboy on Milepoint)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. your link to this story comes up as a malicious phishing website and is blocked by my anti-virus. You may be directing readers to a bad website.

  2. I heard of a similar story ages ago. Seeme this young man boarded a flight at MIA for Melbourne (FL). After takeoff he realized he had used his credit card and signed for last minute tickets to Melbourne, Australia.

  3. In January I was transferring at ADD and boarded what I thought was my flight to DEL, had my boarding pass torn and took my seat. Just before the door was about to close, a gate agent boarded and asked me to get my bag and come with him. I was confused, was something wrong? Turned out the plane was actually about to take off for LHR; the delayed ADD-LHR flight had still been boarding at the gate designate for the (also delayed) ADD-DEL flight. If the agent had been a minute or two slower I would have ended up far out of my way indeed.

  4. I heard of a guy who inadvertently got on a Madrid-Santiago (Chile) flight, having meant to buy a ticket to Santiago de Compostela, Spain. It was a walk up ticket, he used his passport as ID, and he carelessly didn’t pay attention to the charge on the credit card transaction. He fell asleep before takeoff and didn’t realize the problem until well into the flight.

  5. I mit be travelling to both this year and can definately see how thst might happen. Very different routes to get thtere thou. I have had an agent book me to Viena (VEN) ranher than Venice (VCE) by mistake.

  6. The geek in me knows my codes… I wonder what this is like for those folks who don’t understand them.

  7. I’ve had to deal with a Bangladeshi passenger trying to check-in at Gatwick for a flight home that was actually routing him to Senegal via Ghana. So from personal experience, I can vouch that Dakar vs Dhaka is not a unique situation!

  8. Happened to my lugage few years ago. On a Swiss air flight from LOS my checked bags were tagged ATH instead of ATL. Had to wait 5 days for it to be rerouted from Athens, Greece to Atlanta.

  9. Must have been on an award booking through (insert name here) airways made by a reservation agent over the phone 🙂

  10. They made it sound like the error happened at check-in. That seems improbable to me. How do you know it didn’t happen at ticketing? Seems far more likely to me. The check-in process is set up to check you in for your reservation, so if you have a reservation and ticket for DKR, it’s not going to issue bag tags and boarding passes for DAC. Seems to me they were probably ticketed for DAC and that’s where they went.

  11. Was flying from SYR to LAX once. As I boarded a flight to LAX something seemed odd to me (e.g. tiny plane). Started talking to FA and found out I was on a flight to JFK! Apparently I ended up making a wrong turn at the gate. Luckily neither flight took off and I ended up in LA without further adventures.

  12. Do people really not read the signs at the gate listing destination before they queue to board?

  13. @Ken – Apparently there are some people who don’t. Hopefully, these people don’t reproduce and pass their “stupid” genes on.

  14. I can’t believe that no one has asked the obvious question yet, given this is a frequent flier blog- did they get credit for the miles to Dhaka?

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