Dutch teen winds up in wrong Sydney after bagging cheap air ticket

Milan Schipper in a photo from his Facebook page.
Milan Schipper in a photo from his Facebook page.PHOTO: FACEBOOK

TORONTO - A Dutch student looking forward to a sunny holiday in Sydney, Australia, ended up instead in freezing-cold Sydney, Canada.

Milan Schipper, 18, bought his flight because the ticket was C$300 (S$315) cheaper than all the other tickets, he told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) on Thursday (March 30).

"So I thought, 'Well, let's book that one,'" he told the broadcaster.

The teen was planning on spending some time in Australia before starting college — backpacking along the lush coastal landscapes, and maybe working a little.

But instead of heading straight to the beach, as he had planned, he found himself in near-blizzard conditions.

Airline employees helped him book a return ticket home to Amsterdam.

Schipper told CBC he knew something was amiss when he had a layover in Toronto, and his connecting flight was in a small Air Canada plane.

"The plane was really small and so I figured, would that make it to Australia?" He boarded it anyway. Then he saw the map on the screen on the seat in front of him.

"I saw the flight plan was going to go right, not left. It was about the time that I realised there was another Sydney," he told the broadcaster.

"I felt terrible. I think I (swore) in my head for like 10 minutes. But there was nothing I could do about it because I was already up in the air."

He landed in snow-covered Sydney, Nova Scotia, with a blizzard on the horizon, sporting nothing but a T-shirt, sweatpants and a thin jacket, said CBC.

"I was not dressed for the occasion," he said. 

Schipper ruled out heading straight to Australia – which would have cost him another US$1,600 (S$2,200) and more than 30 hours of travel. Instead, he found some airport employees and explained the situation. They booked a flight straight back to Toronto, and from there, home, where his very amused father picked him up at the airport.

"He felt really sorry for me, but he thought... only I could do such a thing," Schipper said. "He also laughed an awful lot - just like everyone else."

It's not the first time hapless travellers have made that mistake, however, said Britain's BBC.

In 2002, a young British couple also landed in the Sydney more famous for its lobster boats than its opera house.

In 2009, the Daily Mail reported that a Dutch grandfather travelling with his son also wound up there by accident. Italian tourists made a similar error in 2010.