By ERIC JOHNSON, JASMINE BROWN and ALEXA VALIENTE
A Maryland man is suing British Airways because of a mix-up that landed him 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.
Gamson is now suing British Airways, through which he booked the vacation, for the error.
“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.”
In a statement to ABC News, British Airways officials said they have been trying to work with Gamson to correct the error.
“We have been in regular contact with the couple since the incident took place and have offered extensive assistance,” the statement said. “They declined the airline’s offer of new flights to Granada, Spain, and at the request of the customers, British Airways provided flights, at no additional charge, to an alternate destination.” As a “good will gesture,” the airline also gave Gamson and his partner enough frequent flier miles to book another trip in the future.”
But Gamson said he declined their offer and is moving forward with a $34,000 lawsuit.
“It sounds like a lot, but it’s a composition of the pre-paid expenses that were in Spain that we never were able to use, the cost of the flights -- and this is a first-class flight -- and the fact that the two of us for a number of days obviously did not have a vacation,” he said. “Blunders happen, and we realize that. And we’re reasonable, but then settle it.”
Gamson and his partner finally made it to Granada in May.
“Now I’ve waited a long time, but this trip really was worth it,” Gamson said. “It was that beautiful.”