Lonely Planet Writer

A Dutch student took a flight to Canada thinking he was on a cheap route to Australia

As life lessons go, one Dutch student learnt that ‘if something looks too good to be true, it probably is’ in one of the toughest, most time consuming ways possible: by mistakenly booking an aeroplane ticket to the wrong Sydney.

The Sydney he expected to see.
The Sydney Milan Schipper expected to see. Image by Shutterstock

When Milan Schipper from Vaassen in the Netherlands sat down and put his seatbelt on at Amsterdam airport Schiphol, he was excited to be jetting off to Sydney, Australia for a backpacking holiday. However, by the time he had landed in Toronto, Canada and he had spotted the size of the aeroplane making his connecting flight, he knew something was wrong.

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‘I saw the plane the plane and the plane was really small,’ Schipper told CBC in Canada. ‘So I figured would that make it to Australia? But afterwards, I checked the screen on the seat in front of me and I checked the flight plan and everything and then I saw all the flight plan was going to go right and up left. Yeah, that was about the time that I realised there was another Sydney.

Schipper had actually booked a flight to Sydney, Nova Scotia, over 17,000 km away from where he wanted to be. The error had occurred after the student had spotted a flight to Sydney for €800, some €200 cheaper than any of the other trips to Australia. What he hadn’t noticed was that the inexpensive route was actually headed for Sydney in Canada.

In the end, airport staff helped the 18-year-old get back to Amsterdam where he was reunited with his father. Schipper even met a traveller from the US who had made the same mistake. The airline has since offered Schipper free tickets to Sydney, Australia, but he is yet to take them as he returns to school in September.

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