Airline Flight Mix-Up Sends Couple To The Wrong Continent

Imagine hopping on a plane to go on vacation in Africa, taking a nap and waking up to find yourself in Bangladesh. That’s exactly what happened to one couple after an airline mixed up their flight bookings and flew them 7,000 miles away from their intended destination.

Sandy Valdivieso and her Husband Triet Vo had wanted to fly from LA to the African city of Dakar, Senegal, but mistakenly ended up on a flight to Dhaka, Bangladesh. 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. Upon landing, Turkish Airlines actually tracked down the voice recording of the couple booking their flight to Senegal to confirm the bungle was in fact the airline’s fault, before finally putting the couple on a flight to the right city.

Photo Of The Day: Bangladesh Street Scene

This Bangladesh street scene, taken in 2008 by Flickr user m24instudio, jumped out at me on the Gadling Group Pool page on Flickr. Currently, next to it on the page are photos of flowers, animals, skylines, an island and snowy panoramas. None of these popped off the page quite so intensely as the above image. The colors, the signage, the handbills, the greenery in the background and the advertisements are all terribly vibrant.

Upload your favorite images of colorful street scenes (or absentminded cyclists, for that matter) to the Gadling Group Pool on Flickr. We choose our favorites from the pool to be Photos of the Day.

Bengal Tigers to get special protection

The Royal Bengal Tiger and other animals are to get special protection from the government of Bangladesh.

The government is setting up a 300-member force to patrol the areas where the endangered tigers live. This is in reaction to recent poaching incidents targeting the tigers and well as other animals such as turtles and crocodiles. The poaching and smuggling of animals is a major international problem. There’s a huge demand for rare animals as pets, decoration, food, and as ingredients in traditional medicine. Many of the animals most in demand, like tigers and rhinos, are endangered.

Most of the Bengal tigers in Bangladesh live in the Sundarbans, a huge mangrove forest straddling the India-Bangladesh border. It’s designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its incredible variety of wildlife and is an important tourist draw for both countries.

[Photo courtesy Paul Mannix]

Five unusual destinations from London

London is incredibly well served as a transit hub. Collectively, London airports see more traffic than any other cluster of city airports in Europe. An impressively broad network of routes connects the city’s airports to destinations across Europe, the Americas, Asia, and Africa. For anyone predisposed to travel, this range of destinations is inspiring.

Many of the world’s most visited destinations are served from London, some along multiple routes. Many others are less well known. Among these are the following five truly unusual destinations.

1. Ascension Island. This Atlantic Ocean island, hundreds of miles south of the Equator and well over one thousand miles from the African and South American coasts, hosts a joint US/UK air force military base and a European Space Agency tracking station. It is also home to one of the world’s very few GPS ground antennas. To fly to Ascension Island, hop aboard a military plane bound for the Falkland Islands at Brize Norton Royal Air Force base in Oxfordshire, west of London. Upon arrival, laze about on the knockout beach above.

2. Hassi Messaoud, Algeria. Monarch flies to the inland oil town of Hassi Messaoud in Ouargla Province from London-Gatwick, though you have to book your ticket through Jet Air. This route is designed to ferry oil company workers to and fro, and you can expect to shell out just over £1050 for a round trip ticket. While this is most definitely not standard tourist territory, it might just be the ticket for oil industry hobbyists, of which there are no doubt a handful. Somewhere.

3. Tórshavn, Faroe Islands. Atlantic Airways, the Faroese national carrier, flies between London Stansted and the Faroe Islands from early June through early September. The Faroes, which lie north of Scotland, are a truly glorious (if extremely expensive) summer destination for whale watching, hiking, fishing, and birdwatching.

4. Sylhet, Bangladesh. Most of the UK’s Bangladeshi population has ancestral ties to Bangladesh’s Sylhet region. It’s not surprising then that there are links between London and the region’s biggest city, also named Sylhet. Connections are provided by United Airways (BD) (not to be confused with US carrier United) and Biman Bangladesh. United’s route stops in Dubai and Dhaka along the way; the Biman Bangladesh link is flown via Dubai. The region, known as Sylhet Division, is verdant and lush and full of tea plantations.

5. Sion, Switzerland. This tiny airport in the canton of Valais is served by just two airlines. From mid-December through April, an airline called Snowjet operated by Titan Airways connects Sion and London Stansted. Sion is 45 minutes by road from Verbier, the most stylish of Switzerland’s Four Valleys ski towns.

[Image of Ascension Island: Drew Avery | Flickr]

Two climbers paraglide from the summit of Everest

There is a well known adage amongst mountaineers that says “getting to the summit is only halfway to the finish,” as obviously they have to safely come back down the mountain after they’ve completed their ascent. There are few places where this is more apparent than Mt. Everest, where climbers not only have to make a long, grueling trek to the top, they also have to negotiate a tricky descent as well. Over the weekend, two climbers found a way to avoid that descent however, by paragliding off the summit, bypassing all the challenges of a traditional return to Base Camp.

On Saturday, 29-year old Babu Sunuwar and his partner Lakpa Tshering Sherpa, 35, climbed to the summit of Everest. Once there, they assembled their tandem paraglider, and starting it up, both men stepped out into the nothingness that surrounds the highest point on the planet. Rather than plummeting a thousand feet to their deaths however, they took off on what must have been a spectacular flight through one of the most scenic places in the world.

Sailing through the air, Babu and Lakpa passed snow capped mountains on their 42-minute flight, which eventually deposited them at Namche Bazaar, a village in the Khumbu Valley region. Reaching that point would normally take climbers returning from the summit a minimum of three days, but these two avoided a long hike and were soon resting in a comfortable teahouse I’m sure.

Their adventure is far from over however. Having reached the highest point on Earth, they are now headed toward sea level by kayak and bike. Their eco-friendly journey will eventually end in Bangladesh in a few weeks time.

At the moment, there have been no photos released from this epic flight through the Himalaya. I’m hoping that at some point we might see some video footage though, as I’m sure the view was amazing. I’m also guessing that there were more than few other climbers who were jealous of their method of descent after seeing them take off from the summit as well.

[Photo Credit: Babu Sunuwar]