You’ve booked your flight. You’re pumped. The dream vacation to Costa Rica is all you could think about lately. You’ve arrived at the airport, but, wait there is something wrong, your flight is headed for California and not the San Jose you had been planning to visit.

Plam trees in San Jose, California

Another common confusion is San Juan, Puerto Rico with San Jose, Costa Rica.

If you are among the lucky, you discover the mistake before you board your flight.

San Jose, Costa Rica and San Jose, California are the easily confused airports, a world apart sharing the same city name and in their case a one letter difference in the IATA code.

The mistake is more common than you may think. Worse, the mistake not only made by those booking their own flights online but also by travel agents, who are supposed to be experts in travel.

Other easily confused airports include the Ontario International (ONT), an airport near Los Angeles, California and not Toronto, Canada.

Genoa (GOA), Genoa Cristoforo Colombo Airport and Goa International Airport (GOI) are surprisingly easily confused. The former is in Italy, the latter, located in the city of Dabolim in Goa, India.

Auckland, New Zealand and Oakland, California or Birmingham, Alabama and Birmingham, England; Valparaiso Indiana (VPZ), and Valparaiso, Chile (VAP); and, Santiago de Chile (SCL) in Chile and Santiago de Compostela (SCQ) in Spain are a few more.

When booking pay close attention to the city, airport and country. If you are using a travel agent, review your confirmation closely, check to ensure your destination is the intended one.

While anyone can book a flight to or from the wrong destination, there’s a way around it. European and U.S. laws can help you get a refund within 24 hours of the time of booking, but the error can be costly if, let’s say you are at the airport, at the airline counter.


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