Airline’s mistake sends couple to Dhaka instead of Dakar

Claudine Zap

An airport code mix-up sent vacationing travelers to the wrong continent.

Sandy Valdivieso and her husband, Triet Vo, had planned to fly from their home in Los Angeles to the African country of Senegal. Instead, they ended up almost 7,000 miles away, in Bangladesh, because of an error by Turkish Airlines.

According to the Los Angeles Times, which helped the couple resolve the issue once they had returned home, the two travelers thought everything was fine when they received their boarding passes. The passes noted their flight plan from Los Angeles (LAX) to Istanbul (IST) to DAC -- which they assumed to be their final destination, Dakar, Senegal.

It’s not.

Unfortunately for the vacationers, DAC is the code for Dhaka, Bangladesh. The code for their intended destination: DKR.

"I guess we were just going by the flight number on our tickets, and that DAC was printed on them," Valdivieso told the Times. "You just assume that everything is correct," she added.

That small error led to a huge nightmare of a trip. The couple made it to Istanbul as planned. Then things got weird.

On the second flight, they heard the flight attendant announce the destination as Dhaka, but "We believed that this was how you pronounced 'Dakar' with a Turkish accent," Valdivieso told the Times.

The two fell asleep. When Valdivieso woke up, she knew something was wrong when she saw that the travel map on the screen showed the plane over the Middle East, nowhere near the West African country.

Once the travelers arrived in the wrong place, it took them nine hours to convince the airlines that the mistake had been on the part of the company, not the couple.
Finally the wayward vacationers were put back on a flight to Istanbul at no extra charge, where they made the correct transfer to Senegal. Their luggage made it two days later.

Rick Seaney of the website told the Times that horror stories do happen, but he's never heard of an airline sending passengers to the wrong continent.

"This is just brutal," he said. "A lot worse than losing your bag."

The Los Angeles Times helped the travelers secure two free round-trip tickets on the airline as compensation for the mistake.

Meanwhile, the couple has gotten very savvy with airport codes.

"From now on, I'll triple-check everything," Valdivieso said.