It’s my birthday today and for it TPOL gave me the gift of a huge headache at Chinese Immigration. I’ve written about how I’ve written about my visa problems. I thought I had this problem under control but disaster struck again today.
Enthusiastic about flying Air New Zealand from AKL-PVG, I initially neglected to notice that my flight going into Shanghai and leaving from Shanghai connected in Japan. This is a violation of the Visa-Free transit rule because technically I am going from Japan to China and back to Japan. To comply, I needed a flight from China to somewhere else before Japan.
Spotting this error, I booked a day trip to Hong Kong and presented this information to the agent. He passed this on to his superior and, twelve hours later, I am finally going to Hong Kong. The first few hours of my birthday were not spent in Shanghai as planned. Instead, I was in a detention room being grilled about my itinerary. The agent did not believe I had a real itinerary and insisted that my only way out of the mess was to take the 10AM flight back to Tokyo. Hours of arguing, joking, calling the airline to explain to her my ticket did nothing.
Exhausted and broken, I considered booking a direct flight to the US in coach so I could be done with the drama. While rationalizing how a 13 hour would be a mental challenge, a new agent approached me with a much warmer demeanor.
He asked to see my ticket and offered to help me. Perhaps it was my stellar Mandarin skills or my nonsensical babbling but I’m happy and exhausted to say that I’m at the gate bound for HKG.
The takeaway of the story is that I am still awful with visas. The lesson of the story is to forget the transit visa nonsense and buy the ten year multientry solution. That would’ve saved me time and money, though I wouldn’t have this great story to tell.