Last year, I needed to catch a Pearl Jam concert in St. John's, Newfoundland, for a story I was writing. I reserved a room at a B&B near the venue and then booked a flight through my company's travel agent. When the date came, I boarded a plane to Montreal, went through customs, and caught my connecting flight. On the ground, I hopped in a taxi and told the driver the B&B's address. "That doesn't sound familiar," he said. "Wait. Are you supposed to be in Newfoundland? 'Cause you're in New Brunswick."
What I did
Besides freak out? The driver walked me to the Air Canada counter--in Saint John, New Brunswick. "She's supposed to be in Newfoundland," he said. The desk agent sighed and said, "Another one, eh?" I went into Amazing Race mode, asking if there was another flight. "Sure," the nice agent told me. "Tomorrow. Connects through Halifax." Maybe I could rent a car? "Sure. It's about 1,000 miles." I was soon heading back to Montreal (but I didn't make it home that night because a flight was canceled).
After pleading my case with several layers of management at the travel agency, I eventually received a refund.
What experts say
As we all know, everybody makes mistakes, and I should have double-checked the itinerary beforehand. The obvious advice is to be sure you have the correct airport codes and city names, request e-mail confirmations, and look over the details carefully.
My experience could have been worse, I suppose. The folks at St. John's Tourism told me about several other airport mix-ups, including a British couple who wanted to go to Australia but ended up in Sydney, Nova Scotia.