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Couple distraught after booking dream vacation from the wrong Birmingham

Technically Incorrect: Online booking is easy, right? Not for the couple that mixed up the middle of England with Alabama.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


heekin.jpg

The distraught couple.

Daily Mail screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

One of the great business sleights-of-hand was when airlines and hotel groups got us to book online.

It seemed so simple and convenient. Until you realized how much time it was taking you, that is.

Still, we're all used to it now. We all know how to book flights and spot cheap hotel deals.

Perhaps not everyone.

As the BBC reports, Richella Heekin, from Sutton Coldfield, England, booked a surprise trip to Las Vegas for her boyfriend Ben Marlow's 30th birthday. She had saved for two years. That's true love.

They wandered into their local Birmingham airport, only to see that there was no one at the American Airlines desk.

Why might this be? Well, it seems that Heekin had booked flights to Vegas via Dallas (the Texas one) from Birmingham, Alabama, rather than Birmingham, England.


The latter Birmingham (disclosure: I was born and grew up there) is England's second city and a gritty place with two terrible soccer teams. It's around five times bigger than its Alabama cousin. It's also not tried to ban gay marriage recently.

How, though, could Heekin have not realized that she'd booked flights from airport code BHM, rather than BHX?

She told the Birmingham Mail that Lastminute.com -- the site on which she booked -- should have made the distinction clearer.

In an interview with the Daily Mail, Heekin said the site was very unhelpful when she called it from the airport.

Lastminute.com didn't respond to a request for comment. However, a spokeswoman told the Mail that the company had tried to do everything to help, but unfortunately the 1,200 British pounds (around $1,750) wasn't refundable.

The couple decided there was nothing to do but to whip out their credit cards at the airport and book a different vacation -- to Amsterdam.

It seems that mistakes such as this aren't so rare.

A couple of years ago, a Ghanaian student thought he was flying to Guyana, but ended up in Goiania, Brazil.

Even my hometown has gotten confused.

In 2008, the city council sent out 720,000 leaflets featuring a majestic picture of, yes, the Alabama Birmingham. And in 2014, it encouraged everyone on its website to go to a wedding fair -- in Birmingham, Alabama.

The Web makes us click quickly. This means we make mistakes quickly.

Sadly, we're slow to notice these mistakes, because we're too busy thinking about the next thing we have to do.

Of course, when we book online and make an error, we can't blame anyone else.

I have a feeling that airlines and hotel groups like that.