Lost in Translation: Maryland Man Suing British Airways for Sending Him to Grenada, Caribbean, Not Granada, Spain
The legendary Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong sang "You say to-may-toe, I say to-mah-toe, you say po-tay-toe and I say po-tah-toe." But miscommunication isn't always cute like in the song however — even if it's a difference of only one letter. It's especially not so funny when it involves landing in the wrong destination after a long flight.
A dentist from North Bethesda, Maryland, is suing British Airways for flying him to Grenada in the Caribbean (northwest of Trinidad and Tobago and northeast of Venezuela), instead of his planned destination of Granada, Spain.
Why on earth would this happen?
That's the million dollar question that dentist Edward Gamson and his partner, who were anxiously awaiting their trip to the historical Spanish city of Granada — spelled with an A, not Grenada with an E. Needless to say, the baffled duo most likely didn't have their swimsuits packed for a Caribbean vacation.
According to NBC News, Gamson, who "clearly told the British Airways agent over the phone "Granada, Spain," didn't notice the mistake because his e-tickets did not contain the airport code or the duration of the trip."
Gamson realized just 20 minutes after departure from a stop-over in London that they were off-course after looking at the in-flight map. Then his fear was confirmed by the flight attendant that they were headed to Grenada, not Granada.
The end result? Gamson reportedly lost over 375,000 frequent-flier miles that he used to book his first-class tickets. While he said the flight crew was "accommodating and helpful," he claims the airline was "less than helpful."
According to Gamson, British Airways offered him and his partner $376 each and 50,000 miles, but he figured the pre-booked hotels, trains and other tours they had planned cost upward of $34,000. He sued the airline and is representing himself.
"I have no legal background; I'm a dentist, but I know right from wrong — I don't know if that does you any good in this world," Gamson told NBC News. "I really thought they would just want to settle with me, because it's so apparent that it's just a stupid mistake," he said.
Reportedly, British Airways tried to get the lawsuit moved to a federal court, where international aviation rules apply, and then tried to get it dismissed completely.
Due to this incident evolving into "active litigation," a spokeswoman for British Airways said they were "unable to comment at this time."
Coincidentally, the same Grenada vs. Granada debacle happened a week before, CNN reports.
After being diagnosed with cancer, Lamenda Kingdon from Plymouth, United Kingdom, planned a trip to Granada, Spain and booked the trip through British Airways. Like Gamson, Kingdon found herself on a flight bound for Grenada in the Caribbean.
When notified of the mistake, the BA crew reportedly 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."
This isn't the first time that there has been miscommunication with similar words or across languages. The South American country Colombia is commonly misspelled like Columbia University or the U.S. capital of Washington, D.C. — the District of Columbia, where the "u" makes all the difference.
Colombians have started a social media campaign urging Facebook, Twitter and Instagram users to correct big companies, celebrities and athletes using the hashtag #itscolombianotcolumbia, encouraging them to fix the mistake. It's not meant to be malicious but to prove a point that public figures should be more aware of the difference.
I have flown to Bogotá, Colombia several times, and if any airline tried to fly me to Washington, D.C., there would be a major problem. Hopefully it would be obvious, considering it's an international flight, but who knows?
I have visited the stunning city of Granada, Spain and its Andalusian Islamic history while studying abroad. One of the highlights of my stay was visiting the enchanting Alhambra. A sight not to be missed — take note British Airways.
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