-- A mix-up with airline tickets booked through British Airways landed a Maryland man in a completely different country from his intended destination.
“I had a conference in Lisbon, Portugal, and I saw that as my opportunity to finally get to Spain,” Dr. Edward Gamson, of North Bethesda, Maryland, told ABC News. “I had always wanted to see the Alhambra in Granada, Spain.”
But a major issue held up Gamson and his partner from their dream vacation: spelling.
Granada, Spain, is spelled similarly to Grenada, a small Caribbean island country located nearly 4,000 miles away near the coast of Brazil, which is where Gamson, who works as an endodontist, and his partner found themselves in September.
Gamson and his partner had flown from Washington, D.C., to London. The two thought they were flying to Spain, but instead boarded a flight to St. Lucia, which was then headed to Grenada.
“Within 20 minutes of departing … we look at this little monitor in front of us, and the plane’s heading west, so I go up to the flight attendant and said, ‘Why west? Why not south? We’re going to Spain,’” Gamson recalled. “He said, ‘Spain, what are you talking about? We’re going to Grenada. We’re in the West Indies,’ and my heart just dropped.”
While Grenada was spelled correctly on their tickets, Gamson said he didn’t notice because he was in vacation mode.
“We had just flown across the Atlantic first class and really enjoyed it. I think just my mindset was like, ‘Just lay back, and don’t think about it,’” Gamson said.
So the two flew to St. Lucia, then caught a flight to Miami. From Miami, they flew back to London and finally to Lisbon.
The grueling three-day travel schedule of seven different flights cost a total $2,776.
“When I booked [the trip], with British Air, not only was I specific on city and country, but I even gave airport codes,” he said. “And I certainly had no way of anticipating that there could be a booking agent who didn’t know the difference between the West Indies and Spain.”
Gamson tried to move forward with a $34,000 lawsuit against British Airways for the mix-up, a number he said was based on the cost of his first class flights and lost wages for time he would have been working. The case was dismissed last week. In a statement to ABC News, British Airways officials said they had tried to work with Gamson to compensate him for the error.
“British Airways is focused on providing exceptional service to all its customers,” the statement said. “As a goodwill gesture we offered Mr. Gamson and his companion new flights to Granada, Spain, which they declined. Instead they accepted free-of-charge flights to an alternate destination and enough Avios frequent flyer points for them to book another trip in the future. The customers also continued to pursue a legal case against British Airways, which was dismissed by the court in Washington D.C. last week.”
Gamson is still deciding whether or not he will appeal the dismissal. He claims that these offers were never extended.
He and his partner did eventually make it to Granada in May, but say they paid for the trip themselves.
“Now I’ve waited a long time, but this trip really was worth it,” Gamson said. “It was that beautiful.”