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Guyana, not Goiania: Destination mix-up leaves yet another traveler stranded

Frances Cha, CNNUpdated 25th February 2015
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(CNN) — It was the opportunity of a lifetime for a young Ghanaian boy -- a scholarship to study medicine in Guyana.
But his journey didn't go quite as expected.
Emmanuel Akomanyi couldn't get a direct flight to Guyana so he boarded a plane in Ghana to Guarulhos International Airport in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
There, he bought a ticket to his final destination in Guyana -- a South American country on the Caribbean coast bordering Surinam, Venezuela and Brazil.
But when he got off the plane, he was not in Guyana -- he was in the city of Goiania, Brazil -- almost 3,000 kilometers away from where he needed to go.
Akomanyi spent a week in Brazil, supported by strangers as he had no money.
The airline that sold him the original ticket eventually helped him out with a new flight to Guyana's Cheddi Jagan International Airport, near the capital Georgetown.

The latest in a long line of mix-ups

You'd think with all the technology at our disposal, destination mix-ups like what Akomanyi experienced would be a rarity.
Not so.
They're surprisingly common.
In June of 2014, a couple boarded a plane to the southern Caribbean island of Grenada, instead of their desired destination -- the ancient city of Granada, Spain.
U.S. dentist Edward Gamson thought he'd bought tickets from London's Gatwick Airport to Granada, Spain, for himself and his partner via a British Airways booking agent, but only realized he was actually headed to Grenada in the Caribbean once on board, reported The Independent.
The destination country and flight duration hadn't been listed on his e-tickets, which instead displayed only the city name.
"It's just so sad," Gamson told The Independent. "A trip we had been really looking forward to was ruined and ... BA won't do the decent thing."
Gamson claimed the airline refused to reimburse his first-class tickets and didn't reroute the travelers to Granada from Grenada.
He ended up suing British Airways for the cost of the trip, including planned tours in Spain that he and his partner didn't get to take, but the case was reportedly dismissed.
British Airways made the Grenada/Granada mix-up twice in two weeks.
British Airways made the Grenada/Granada mix-up twice in two weeks.
JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Images File Photo

Grenada, Granada

Remarkably, the same mix-up happened earlier that same month.
Lamenda Kingdon from Plymouth, UK, had also booked a British Airways flight to Granada, Spain, but found herself on a flight bound for Grenada in the Caribbean.
She'd planned the trip after being diagnosed with cancer.
When notified of the mistake, the BA crew moved Kingdon to first class and sent her back to Gatwick when the flight made a scheduled stop in St. Lucia, reported the Daily Mail.
"I genuinely don't blame anyone," she told the Daily Mail. "The person on the other end of the phone probably just misheard me. I honestly didn't notice the spelling difference."

Wrong continent

In May 2013, Sandy Valdivieso and her husband, Triet Vo, boarded a Turkish Airlines flight in Los Angeles, intending to travel to Dakar, Senegal, in western Africa, but ended up in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
The mix-up was due to the similar sounding destinations and airport codes.
The couple didn't realize the error until they were already on their connecting flight from Istanbul.
"When the flight attendant said we were heading to Dhaka, we believed that this was how you pronounced 'Dakar' with a Turkish accent," Valdivieso told the LA Times.
Southwest Airlines flew the same woman to wrong destinations twice.
Southwest Airlines flew the same woman to wrong destinations twice.
KAREN BLEIER/AFP/GettyImages File Photo

Wrong state

In December 2013, 85-year-old Maria Nieves ended up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, after she'd booked a Southwest Airlines flight to Fort Myers, Florida.
It was the second time such a mix-up had happened to her -- two years ago, the airline flew Nieves to Tampa, Florida, instead of New Orleans, Louisiana.
According to Louisiana's WAFB, Nieves had requested wheelchair assistance, which meant airline staff were responsible for assisting her from gate to gate.
"I can see it happening once, but twice to the same person, it's kind of like lightning striking twice in the same place," her son Robert Ortiz told WAFB.
A VietJet Air flight landed at the wrong airport in 2014.
A VietJet Air flight landed at the wrong airport in 2014.
Blue Stahli Luân/Flickr File Photo

Wrong airport

Last June, a VietJet Air plane that took off from Hanoi landed at the wrong airport.
Instead of arriving in Cam Ranh Airport near Nha Trang, the aircraft landed 140 kilometers away in Da Lat.
The airline flew the misdirected passengers to their original destination via another flight, reported local news outlet Thanh Nien News.
In January earlier that year, another Southwest Airlines plane landed at a small airport in Taney County, Missouri, approximately seven miles from where it was meant to land at Branson Airport.
Due to the difference in airport runway lengths -- Taney County airport's runway is 3,738 feet compared with Branson Airport's 7,140 feet -- pilots were forced to brake hard when the plane touched down.
No one was hurt and the airline refunded all tickets and provided future travel credit for passengers.