This may seem like a funny story to some, but I had to beg, borrow and steal just to board a flight that I had already paid for.
The story goes like this:
Even though I know Taiwan is sticky about letting you into the country without an onward ticket if you don’t have and ARC/multiple-entry visa or any other visa, I figured I’d probably be okay because, in the past, all I had to do if they questioned me at the airport was provide proof of residence and/or provide a bank or visa card that proved I could indeed buy another ticket out of the country when and if I had to.
With me so far? I’ve been through this before, and last two times it was Korea and once before with Taiwan…never a problem at Taiwan or Korea immigration…ever!
So these guys in the Philippines tell me no way are we letting you on the flight without an onward ticket. After about an hour of screwing around, they finally send me upstairs where a China Airlines staffer places a personal call to CA in Taiwan, explaining my situation, behaving as if it’s the first time they have ever seen this kind of thing.
Anyway, after producing my now expired ARC and my bank card AND my cell-phone number AND…my girlfriend’s cell number…AND…promising to pay for an onward ticket to Hong Kong that they had booked for me as soon as I touched down in Taiwan (they would “intercept” me before immigration :loco: ). They finally agreed to let me board the flight.
So I arrive in Taiwan, a little nervous about the whole thing because I had to do all this running around before I even went throught customs. I look around for the interceptor people, assuming they would be CA staff, and nobody is there.
So I go to the counter between the two rows of immigration booths and tell them my story. The woman says “Aha!” And patches me through to China Airlines. And get this; This is what they tell me after all of that B.S. “Why don’t you just try to go through immigration, and if they stop you. come back and phone us and we’ll issue you the HK ticket.”
Well! Off I go to immigration now. By this time the whole flight had already passed though and there was just little ‘ole me and some weird looking chick. So now it’s my turn and I chose my immigration officer carefully; young, kinda’ casual and looking basically disinterested (him, not me).
I get there and he’s checking out my passport, ticket, and that little paper that you have to fill out, disembarkation card or whatever. Then he says “No visa?” I said “No. They told me at China Air to just try to go through and see waht happens. But I’ll buy an onward ticket if I have to.”
Then the guy just looks at me and grins, stamps my passport for a 30-day visa and tells me to have a nice day. I’m Canadian BTW.
The real message here? Even though I know there are problems with the above situation, why then do the airlines, and for that matter immigration, sell you roundtrip tickets and approve your exit from the country without once mentioning that I’ll need an onward ticket in order to get back into the country without any hassles? Basically, they expect everyone just to know all the rules. Things like that aren’t exacty common knowledge.
The way I finally convinced the guy in the Philippines to let me use the second half of my roundtrip ticket was to say; I paid for this ticket and I’m going to use it. NOBODY actually told me at anytime that I needed another ticket just to use this one.
I’m not naive. I am a frequent flyer who’s had his share of ups and downs. But even the most ardent opponents of what I have just reported have to agree that my last statement does hold some water.