The struggles started right from the moment I hit the airport to check in to my flight on Tuesday night. (PS This is definitely a semi-continuation to last week’s Behind The Cast, but not crucial in the catch-up scheme of things).
See I had come home right from writing my WSET Advanced Wine Knowledge exam to chill for an hour, grab my bags, and go to the airport, so I was already a little on edge to say the least. Well Tim checked in, no problemo. Then it was my turn. See my passport was being denied and they weren’t getting an okay from the Australian government to let me through from Vancouver. I was wracking my brain. Did I stay past my visa last time? What’s going on? The lady said it happened sometimes, don’t worry, and come back in a half hour. I did. Nothing. Another half hour. Nothing. Finally I decided just to talk to the “management” if you could even call him that. He said that they weren’t getting a proper response because the Australian government was having a hard time finding my visa.
“What visa?” I asked.
“This one,” he said, and pointed to a visa in my passport.
Yeah he was pointing to the visitors visa I had from Australia in 2005! I asked him if he had been trying to swipe that all along, and he was. At this point it was half hour until boarding and if I was on edge before, I was a bird popping out of a clock by now. I tried to explain that that was an old visa but couldn’t seem to get through to him. He just kept asking me where my visa was then, and I kept trying to explain that I was only going as a visitor. He kept INSISTING I needed a visa.
“Listen buddy, I’ve been to the country twice and not once have I needed a visa to visit there as a tourist.”
This is when Tim tapped me on the shoulder. See he had taken my iPhone from me and googled Australian visas. Apparently the law changed in April 2008 and you now needed to pay a $20 fee (just like the US, and don’t even get me started on countries that make you pay to get into their country to visit it makes me livid), to get a tourist visa. Well by now I’m fuming that all this could have been solved if this guy at the airline, who not only was trying to get me through on a clearly expired visa from 2005, but has a job that should involve knowing things like this, had told me anything resembling a solution. So I say:
“Okay so what can we do then?” *trying to compose myself and suppress my very natural urges to tell him what I really thought*
To this he replies, now nearly 30 minutes before my flight leaves:
“Oh you’re not flying out today.”
The colour of crimson I must have turned after waiting around in the airport for 2 hours only to hear that I wasn’t flying, presented with little or no information of why or who or what, must have been inhuman. This is when, knowing me well, Tim took over. Tim says something along the lines of explaining that an ETA (Electronic Travel Authority) is usually issued with the ticket. Now the guy says:
“Oh yeah if you have an ETA you’re fine.”
If I was crimson before I was a beautiful violet flower by now, one with plumes of black smoke shooting out of it’s petals/ears. I knew if I said anything I would get kicked out of the airport. Little did I know, Tim had also stopped talking to the “manager”, who had just told me, without presenting solutions, that I wasn’t going on holidays that night, and was currently on the ETA website on my phone. He gave it to me where I sat down, hands SHAKING, now 25 minutes until take off, filling out the form on my iPhone screen, typing in birthdates, credit card numbers, personal information, only to get a screen that said:
You have been approved.
We ran back to the desk highfiving each other with delight, pocketed my iPhone mid run, my face only dropping momentarily when I saw the guy who almost ruined Christmas, threw my passport at the ticket lady who was running to her desk, acknowledged that we were now the only people without tickets onto the flight, heard her say “here’s your tickets”, telling us to hurry, and ran through customs only to board the plane LITERALLY…..LITERALLY in the nick of time. We both told each other, that despite what we may have thought in the past, we now agree we could be on the Amazing Race together.
Never. Fly. China. Airlines.
To Be Continued! Next? Adventures in Taipei.