Man accidentally flies to Sidney, Montana instead of Sidney, Australia

‘I knew I was in trouble when I saw mountains covered in snow’: New Yorker sets off on dream trip Down Under only to realise he has booked his ticket to Sidney, Montana instead of Sydney, Australia

  • Kingsley Burnett, 62, accidentally flew to Sidney, Montana instead of Australia
  • He was due to have a once-in-a-lifetime trip with a cruise and seeing the sights

A New Yorker set off for a dream trip Down Under – only to realize he had booked a ticket for Sidney, Montana instead of Sydney, Australia. 

Kingsley Burnett, 62, was hoping he would escape the state’s freezing winter and instead enjoy sunny weather and a cruise in Sydney. 

However the flight was shorter than he expected and he realized something was wrong when he couldn’t see beaches, the Harbour Bridge or Sydney Opera House. 

‘I saw a mountaintop covered in white snow. At that point, I knew I was in trouble,’ Mr Burnett told local TV station KTVQ. 

He had booked and caught a flight to the tiny town of Sidney in the US state of Montana – population 6,346 – rather than the Australian city of Sydney, which has a population of 5.3million. 

A New Yorker set off for a dream trip Down Under – only to realize he had booked a ticket for Sidney, Montana instead of Sydney, Australia

Kingsley Burnett (left), 62, was hoping he would escape the state’s freezing winter and instead enjoy sunny weather and a cruise in Sydney (pictured with Carol from American Airlines)

He added that he hadn’t noticed the price difference – which typically cost $500 to Sidney but $2,000 to Sydney – as he was travelling on a tight budget and thought he had landed a bargain ticket to the other side of the world. 

‘It’s a matter of acronyms. The S-Y-D as opposed to S-D-Y. Somebody has to fix that,’ Mr Burnett said.

He was referring to the codes used by the respective airports that led to the error which saw him land in Billings, Montana to board a connecting flight to Sidney.

Flights to Sidney, Montana from New York still require a connection and can take between nine and 25 hours – which helps to explain how Mr Burnett didn’t realise the mistake until he arrived.

Instead of travelling almost 10,000 miles to his dream vacation, Mr Burnett had only made a 1,800 mile trip to another US state.  

The holidaymaker added that he should have focused on making sure his final destination was correct, rather than on the best value method of travel. 

Mr Burnett had expected to step off the plane into the Australian heat – which has winter highs of 26C – but was instead faced with tepid Montana weather of around 2C. 

He stayed in a Boothill Inn while he waited for a flight home, where the manager Shelli Mann said the Sidney/Sydney mix-up had happened before. 

Mr Burnett had hoped to travel to Sydney for the trip of a lifetime (pictured, file image)

Sydney, Australia is famed for its beaches and beauty. Sidney, Montana (pictured) is famed for its wheat fields and oil wells

‘This is the second time we’ve had a guest that was trying to get to Sydney, Australia,’ she said. 

Mr Burnett was very grateful to Carol Castellano of American Airlines who helped him get a flight back to New York.

‘Montana didn’t have kangaroos. It had Carol. And that was good enough for me,’ he said.

He has now rescheduled his once-in-a-lifetime trip for June – where he will hopefully meet with more success.  

Kingsley Burnett (pictured), thought he was getting a flight to Sydney, Australia. Instead, he was headed for Sidney, Montana

There is also a Sydney – spelt the same way as its more famous namesake – in Nova Scotia, Canada.

In March, 2017 Dutch teenager Milan Schipper ended up on the east coast of Canada rather than the east coast of Australia.

When he was booking the flight, the then 18-year-old found one ticket that was almost $300 cheaper than the rest.

‘So I thought, “Well, let’s book that one,”‘ he told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation at the time.

He first realised something was wrong when he landed in Toronto for a stopover and saw the Air Canada plane that would take him to Sydney.

‘The plane was really small and so I figured, would that make it to Australia?’ he said.

He boarded 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 said.

Mr Schipper was far from alone. An American woman on the same flight as him had made the same error, he said.

In 2002, two British teenagers ended up in Sydney, Nova Scotia while trying to get to Australia, as did an Argentinian tourist in 2008, a Dutch man and his grandson in 2009 and an Italian couple in 2010.

There is also a Sydney Parade in Dublin, Ireland. It has a cricket ground and a train station, but no airport, so there have been no reported attempts of people mixing it up with Sydney, Australia, Sydney, Canada or Sidney, America.

Sidney vs Sydney!









KNOWN FOR                           

NAMED AFTER                                                                                                                           




-13C to 7C (average)

Elk, birds, antelope, mule deer 

Semi-arid climate (long, cold winter, hot summer)

Approx $500

9 to 25 hours

1,800 miles

Farming, oil production, fishing and trade  

Sidney Walters, a young boy at the home of JP Hiram Otis

Florrie Fisher, Chuck Stevenson, Roger Markle 


 5.3 million

17C to 26C (average)

Possums, gliders, kangaroos, wallabies

Humid subtropical – warm and hot

Approx $2,000 

Between 1 and 2 days

9,900 miles

Opera House, Harbour Bridge

Home Secretary Thomas Townshend, 1st Viscount Sydney 

Hugh Jackman, Iggy Azalea, Mel Gibson, Rebel Wilson

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