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Tourists’ costly holiday blunder

The couple were booking a trip of a lifetime to Las Vegas when they made the ‘common’ mistake.

Amanda DevlinThe Sun

A COUPLE failed to play their cards right when they booked a dream trip to Las Vegas — from the wrong Birmingham.

British pair Richella Heekin and Ben Marlow were devastated to be told their flights were departing from Birmingham, Alabama, instead of its West Midlands, UK namesake when they turned up at the airport ready for take off.

Unlucky Richella, from Sutton Coldfield in the UK’s Birmingham, booked the trip through lastminute.com as a 30th birthday surprise for boyfriend Ben, The Sun reports.

But the stakes were high as the couple lost all $2300 they had paid towards the trip.

Ben said: “When we turned up at the airport we couldn’t find the flight details anywhere.

“We approached one of the desks and they told us our holiday was booked from Alabama.

“I was gutted — more for my partner than for me.

“She had told everyone and she was really upset.

“She was distraught and we didn’t know what to do.”

Birmingham US, the largest city in Alabama, is a former steelworks powerhouse now famous for its craft beers, outdoor sports culture and being the birthplace of the civil rights movement. Picture: James Willamor

Birmingham US, the largest city in Alabama, is a former steelworks powerhouse now famous for its craft beers, outdoor sports culture and being the birthplace of the civil rights movement. Picture: James WillamorSource:Flickr

Richella had kept it secret from Ben for more than a year before finally revealing the present at a bash in front of all their family and friends.

They flew off to Amsterdam instead after lastminute.com said no refund was available.

“It’s a common mistake apparently,” said Ben.

“But if that’s the case the company’s website should make it more clear.

“It’s embarrassing because everyone was really happy for us.

“We are just going to have to start saving from scratch again.”

Birmingham UK, a major city in England’s West Midlands, is a former manufacturing powerhouse now famous for its canals, dining and night-life scene, and being the birthplace of chocolate company Cadbury.

Birmingham UK, a major city in England’s West Midlands, is a former manufacturing powerhouse now famous for its canals, dining and night-life scene, and being the birthplace of chocolate company Cadbury.Source:Supplied

Lastminute.com said the drop down menu on its website made a clear distinction between the two airports.

A spokeswoman said: “While not an error on our behalf, we do feel very sorry that Richella and Ben only realised this choice of departure was incorrect once at the airport.

“This is when they contacted our customer service team, who did their best to assist on the day of travel.

“However there were no other flights available which could have been booked as an alternative.”

The spokeswoman added: “We take customer satisfaction very seriously and are committed to always finding the best possible solution.

“We have since contacted the airline and the hotel to ask whether any refund would be available.

“Unfortunately, as per the terms of conditions of the booking, this is not something that can be provided.

“Such cases are extremely rare.

“However we would like to take this opportunity to advise that customers check all details when making a booking, in particular departure and arrival airports (including airport codes) along with dates and times of travel.”

It’s not the first time the two Birminghams have caused confusion.

In 2008, Birmingham City Council admitted sending out thousands of leaflets bearing the US city’s skyline.

Around 720,000 pamphlets praising residents for their recycling were sent out at a cost of $28,700.

And in 2014 the authority plugged a bridal fair in Birmingham, Alabama, on the events section of its website.

This article originally appeared in The Sun and was reproduced with permission.

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